Personal Note :- I have always loathed as how our society tries to aggressively protect what it falsely assumes as an "embarrassment". It is downright wrong to try to block a documentary on the struggle of Mukhtaran Mai. This decision emanates from the very opinion that originates in the public and is a sad reflection on how our society tries to hide social evils by denying their very existence. We should have been proud for in the end (after international pressure), Mukhataran got justice through the courts and the whole civil society came to her rescue.
Oscar-nominated director denied Pak visa
Monday, April 26, 2010
By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: A world renowned film director Katia Lund
— whose Hollywood movie “City of God” was nominated for five Oscars — has been denied Pakistani visa after the Foreign Office came to know she wanted to shoot a world class movie on the struggle of rape victim Mukhtaran Mai.
Katia was working on a Hollywood movie project to make a film to tell the heroic tale of Mukhtaran Mai to international audience as how a rural Pakistani woman, despite heavy odds, rose up to bring her tormentors to book.
The film was said to focus on positive side of the Pakistani society to highlight the gallant struggle of a rural girl living in a society bound by shackles of tradition, who, with the help of Pakistani media, civil society and the Supreme Court, got the accused punished for the evil.
Katia, 44, has withdrawn her application for visa from the Pakistani mission in Brazil, after it was dumped at the Pakistan Foreign Office in Islamabad.
Talking to The News, an FO official explained that FO cannot issue such a visa on its own and as per procedure laid down, such an application is sent to the Ministry of Information and that of Interior for clearance.
Following is the e-mail by Katia Lund sent to Pakistani Embassy official to get her passport back: “Re: Susan Lund - Pakistan Visa Mr Raheel and Mr Maroof: As the Embassy of Pakistan has shown itself in the last three months to be unable or unwilling to answer to my visa request, any of my emails and requests for dialogue, I will be withdrawing my American passport from your hands. I am very disappointed with the way your embassy has handled my case. I wasted money buying a ticket at your request, changing the date several times and making long distance calls.
“You can be assured that although you may withhold a visa, you have not delayed my research or work on Mukhtar’s story. I have successfully accomplished all my research objectives via skype, while you denied my visa. Thanks to the modern world, your power to withhold visas has failed to deprive people of the right to tell their story. You managed to keep nothing but your own silence. I am sorry that you are so backward in your worldview. Please deliver my American passport to Ludimilla, as DHL will be collecting it on Thursday morning. Good luck in your attempt to shape the image of your government. Thank you for your help: Susan Kate Lund.”
Meanwhile, according to investigation conducted by The News, Katia Lund applied to the Pakistani mission in Brasilia, Brazil. She had been to Pakistan before in March 2007 and stayed at Meerwala with Mukhtaran Mai. In her introduction/reference letter to the embassy, she even informed them about her ongoing film projects. And there’s no secret that she’s been writing/directing the movie on the life and struggle of Mukhtaran Mai.
Although, she informed the Pakistani mission about her illustrious film career but was asked to submit reference letters from a couple of ‘prominent’ Pakistanis. She did this and tendered several references that included one from MQM’s Farooq Sattar but to no avail. She booked her seat initially for Feb 14, 2010 on the embassy’s advice, then for Feb 21 but the visa didn’t come. While anticipating Pakistan trip, she sent her two-year-old son Max to her brother in America as she was told by the embassy officials that the visa could be issued anytime.
The embassy people told Katia that the phone number of her host in Multan was wrong but an IB (Intelligence Bureau) official had already paid visit to her host, to get all the required information from him.
Musharraf regime was lately hostile to Mukhtaran Mai and took all the measures, including placing her on the ECL to deny her the fame she’s enjoying internationally since she started a struggle for justice and bringing social reforms in a backward part of the country.
The situation Katia faced seemed to be continuity of Musharraf’s regime’s policy of hushing up Mukhtaran’s story.
Katia Lund is an American-Brazilian film director and screenwriter. Her most notable work was as co-director of the film “City of God”, which was nominated for five Oscars. Having grown up in a middle-class family, she had little knowledge of the plight of those living in Rio de Janeiro’s shantytowns (favelas). Then, she was hired to work on the Spike Lee-directed music video for Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” which was filmed in a favela. The experience opened her eyes and she was determined to make films about the dwellers of these poor neighbourhoods to help raise social consciousness in Brazil.
In 1996, she began work on the documentary NotÌcias de uma Guerra Particular (News of a Private War), an exploration of ongoing battle between favelas’ armed drug dealers (many of whom are small children) and Rio de Janeiro’s police. It was released in 1999 to critical acclaim and was nominated for an Emmy Award after airing on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). She won numerous MTV Video Music Awards Latin America.
In 2001, Lund was invited by Fernando Meirelles to co-direct Golden Gate (Palace II), a short film about two young boys in a favela. The film won several awards in film festivals all over the world. Lund and Meirelles continued their collaboration with the film “City of God” which received international acclaim and was nominated for five Academy Awards. The success of that film was the springboard for the television series ‘City of Men’, a continuation of the story told in ‘Golden Gate’. Lund produced the show with Meirelles and directed four episodes. The show was a major hit in Brazil.