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Seemab Gul
Pakistani filmmaker Seemab Gul’s Haven of Hope has been selected for the International Film Festival’s (IFFR) Huberts Bal Fund. The film was earlier selected for the Institut Français’ La Fabrique Cinéma program. Each year La Fabrique Cinéma picks ten filmmakers across the world and helps them develop their project while connecting them with financiers.

As part of the program, these filmmakers are given the opportunity to attend the Cannes Film Festival and present their projects in the Les Cinéma du Monde pavilion. Having been selected for La Fabrique Cinéma, Seemab got to pitch her film at Cannes this year and subsequently secured 10,000 Euros from the IFFR along with nine other filmmaker selected from 308 submissions.

Seemab Gul

Seemab (second in top row) is one of ten female filmmakers to have secured the fund this year

Seemab is based in London and has previously released multiple documentary films. Her short documentary Zahida, about a female taxi driver in Pakistan, was broadcast on Al Jazeera. She is no stranger to film festivals, having screened her work at the Venice International Film Festival and Sundance, amongst others.

Haven of Hope will be Seemab’s first feature length film. It tells the story of three women in a Pakistani panah khana (safe house) who venture out into the world for a day but eventually return after being rejected by their families for being “lunatics”. The film has been inspired by what Seemab observed while making a documentary for the Edhi Foundation a few years ago. The Edhi Foundation runs multiple panah ghar for people who are homeless and/or contending with mental illness. “I came across many heart-broken, rejected yet resilient women in those safe houses,” says Seemab. With Haven of Hope she aims to raise awareness about their lives and the problems they face in a patriarchal society.

Haven of Hope will be shot in Pakistan. It’s estimated production budget is 300,000 Euros, while the team has so far managed to raise 60,000 Euros.

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