It was just last year when filmmaker, writer and theatre practitioner, Hamza Bangash, who has award winning short film Dia to his credit, attended the Asian Film Academy (AFA) as part of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) 2019.
Not only did Bangash represent Pakistan at BIFF, but also received the first prize, Award of Excellence, from the Asian Film Academy (AFA) and Motion Picture Association (MPA) for his debut feature film-in-development, titled Mariam.
Directed and co-written by the filmmaker himself along with his long-term collaborator, Mohammad Ali Hashmi, the film has made it to the Berlin International Film Festival 2020.
According to Bangash, Mariam has been selected for the Berlinale Talent Project Market, where the team aims to raise international support for the upcoming project.
The young filmmaker took to social media to share the good news. “Over the moon to finally be able to announce this... Our baby has been selected for the Berlinale Talent Project Market and is finally taking strides into becoming a reality!” he wrote on his Instagram handle. “It’s been a long journey...but so stoked to finally getting moving. Wish us luck!” he added.
Talking about the project, Bangash revealed that Mariam, produced by Anam Abbas, is one of the 10 feature-film projects from across the globe that has been selected for the Berlinale Talent Project Market 2020.
The 10 selected projects will be presented to experienced international co-producers and financiers attending the Berlinale Co-Production Market. The films will also compete for a prize and three will be nominated for the VFF Talent Highlight Award, worth €10,000. The winner will be announced during a Pitch and Award Ceremony at the Berlin House of Representatives.
In an earlier interview with Instep, Bangash shared, “Mariam is inspired by my short film Dia (2018), which sheds light on mental illness, and this film will also have theme(s) of mental illness.” He added, “We are trying to broaden the scope of the film; it will speak to the burgeoning women’s rights movement in Pakistan (Aurat March). It will also highlight sexuality, fear and desire. It goes deep into the psychology of being young and in love in Pakistan. It is, and can be, terrifying.”
Slated to release in 2021, the film is an art-house horror/thriller, which is described as the story of “a young woman’s grief that becomes a nightmarish reality”.
This is not the first time a Pakistani film has been chosen for the Berlin International Festival. In 2004, Mo Naqvi’s documentary film, titled Shame, featured as an official selection at the festival. However, Hamza Bangash’s Mariam is the first Pakistani fiction film to be selected as part of the Berlinale Talent Project Market.