Filmmaker Seemab Gul’s short film Sandstorm (Mulaqat) was among the top three films at the HollyShorts Film Festival 2022, which ran from August 11 to August 20. The festival presented its prizes on Saturday in Hollywood.
HollyShorts is an Oscar-qualifying festival for short-film categories, and the winners of those three awards are automatically entered in the Oscar race. According to The Wrap, Hallelujah won the Grand Prix for the festival’s best short, Sandstorm (Mulaqat) took the honours as the best live-action short and Scale won for animation.
“Mulaqat, directed by Seemab Gul, won at two Academy Award qualifying festivals HollyShorts and Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival in August 2022 which coincidentally is also the month we celebrate the 75th Independence Day of Pakistan,“ one of the producers, Abid Aziz Merchant, captioned his Instagram post announcing the news.
The film has been produced by Gul and Merchant in collaboration with Sanat Initiative and Instinct Productions. Starring Hamza Mushtaq, Parizae Fatima, Ayesha Shoaib Ahmed and Nabila Khan, it is the story of a teenage girl named Zara whose life turns tumultuous after she shares a sensual dance video with her virtual boyfriend. He starts to blackmail her into meeting him in person. “Will Zara give in to this stranger’s increasing demands or will she set herself free?” questioned the teaser.
The short has made its way to several notable film festivals, including Sundance, Vaughan and Short Shorts. Ischia Film Festival included it in the Honourable Mentions category and described it as, “A portrait of a teenage girl who, in her naivety, is confronted with cultural stigmas and lack of freedom. Sandstorm is a powerful, elegant and well-acted film that succeeds in depicting how such longing often is caused by the balance between coercion and outright blackmail.”
It has bagged several awards as well.
Congratulations to the team!