Banned documentary Among the Believers wins big at New Zealand film fest

Banned documentary Among the Believers wins big at New Zealand film fest

Directors Mo Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi won the Best International Director award at Doc Edge film fest
Updated 13 May, 2016

A ban on Among the Believers, a documentary on the Lal Masjid network of madarassahs across Pakistan, may have prevented the film from getting an audience in the country, but the film continues to travel to and be feted at film festivals around the world.

Also read: Pakistan's banning spree continues as two documentaries axed for 'negative portrayals'

The documentary just won two awards at Doc Edge, an international documentary film festival in New Zealand.

Directors Mohammed Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi (who also produced and edited the film) won Best International Director and earned a special mention in the Best International Documentary category, Naqvi revealed in an Instagram post today.

This is the documentary 11th award, according to its website.

Directed by Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Naqvi, Among the Believers follows the lives of two children, Zarina and Talha, who have attended madrassahs run by infamous Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz. During the film, their paths diverge: Talha detaches from his moderate Muslim family and decides to become a jihadi preacher while Zarina escapes her madrassah and joins a regular school. Over the next few years, Zarina's education is threatened by frequent Taliban attacks on schools like her own.

The documentary also follows Abdul Aziz closely, chronicling his quest to create his own version of an Islamic utopia. The documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

"It's a very nuanced story," Mo Naqvi said of the film. "In fact, I see it as a coming-of-age tale, one where you can see how the ideological divide in Pakistan is fostered and grows in childhood. We've devoted 5 years to this project, and it's very representative of Pakistan."

The documentary was banned by Central Board of Film Censors for containing "dialogues which projects (sic) the negative image of Pakistan in the context of ongoing fighting against extremism and terrorism" on April 25. It has since been showcased once at a private screening in Karachi.


Satt May 13, 2016 11:15am
Celebration for winning award for this film is celebration of ordinary people which is the celebration of real Pakistan and it shows whats makes common people happy in Pakistan saddens the ruling class of Pakistan and it further proves that how the goals of ruling class differs from common people.
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ali May 13, 2016 11:28am
We wait when Pakistanies like these act courageously and will make a documentary on thousands of children made orphan due to US drone attacks. Sure no one. And even if one makes, will see if such documentary will even be allowed to air in our world controlled by so called champions of human rights.
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Khanm May 13, 2016 11:33am
I have not seen the documentary as yet but the topic is tempting..whether it's good or bad remains to be seen. The thought of bringing the prime issue is indeed worth appreciating ..Folks. .. one should always write something worth reading or do something worth writing indeed they have achieved both...
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Thoroughthinker May 13, 2016 11:49am
Waiting since long to see anything positive about Pakistan to emerge in the international media!
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Bravo May 13, 2016 12:03pm
Keep it up and please stay safe we have already lost people like Sabeen Mehmood, Parveen Rehman and recently Khurram Zaki for highlighting the cruel face of some elements present in our society.
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Giri May 13, 2016 12:08pm
Pakistan government cannot suppress the truth. The truth will come out. These tactics look very immature. Stop banning so many movies.
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sss May 13, 2016 12:22pm
Would it be correct to assume our censors are as idiotic as the rest of bearucracy....the very purpose of the ban was that it project5s a negative image of Pakistan...well its going around the world and projecting an image that resonates with the audience and keeps winning who are the idiots? Banning a book, or a film or any publication has never proved to be a successes.
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Qamar Valliani May 13, 2016 12:57pm
This documentary has tarnished the image of religious parties.
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Karma Dorji May 13, 2016 01:10pm
The trailer is spine chilling.
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Sher khan May 13, 2016 01:53pm
Yeah speaking the truth is giving Pakistan a bad name ... Yeh let's stay in its better...
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PHILOSOPHER (FROM JAPAN) May 13, 2016 01:55pm
Yet its ban won't be lifted i guess.
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Rehman ali May 13, 2016 02:56pm
Either don't ban a movie or ban it internationally... What's the point in having bad image go outside of country and we live in ostrich like situation.
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New Distric Hunza May 13, 2016 03:09pm
Great Work.
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Parvez May 13, 2016 03:15pm
Someone should explain to Abdul Aziz and those that mollycoddle him that this is a serious indictment against him and those of his ilk.
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Saqib May 13, 2016 04:33pm
Himal Trivedi is an Indian Hindu from Mumbai and has made a number of documentaries about negative social issues in Pakistan before. This may be the reason for its ban in Pakistan.
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Awesome Lyrics May 13, 2016 09:27pm
How is special mention in the Best International Documentary category an award?
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Sri May 13, 2016 10:21pm
It's heartening to see that no one is blaming hemant trivedi for showing Pakistan in a bad light on purpose...
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Ravi Vancouver May 14, 2016 01:57am
Banning such documantries is damaging to people as they are not aware what is wrong or right. You keep people in denial and chance for them to make right choices regarding religion. This denial mode by state will affect negatively its fight with militancy and help militants to continue misguiding people to extremist path. It is state's responsibility to stop people taking extremist path as they believe the person like Abdul Aziz are right and follow his extremist ideology.
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illawarrior May 14, 2016 07:03am
The minute such a show is banned, it goes from being an obscure movie nobody ever heard of, to a "must see", to find out what all the fuss is about.
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