Sitara: Let Girls Dream: Streaming on Netflix Globally
Fifteen minutes is a short span of time to deliver a story about a complicated and disturbing subject. When there are religious and cultural connotations to a story, it requires delicate handling. To add to this, the decision-makers opting to tell the story with visuals-only can make this an uphill battle. Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy decides to take this tricky route and … succeeds!
Sitara: Let Girls Dream is a silent film. Does it leave you with hope for the future or is it a damming indictment of our present? Each viewer will decide this on their own.
The film opens with a shot of two sisters Pari and Mehr, flying paper planes from their rooftop. The teenaged sister dreams of being a pilot.
But as her toy plane lands on the feet of her father, her aspirations come down crashing. In a moving scene, we are shown a divided family. The mother and son are angry with the father’s decision to get young Pari married to an older man. Yet they are helpless and only afford a roll of the eyes and a tear or two. Yet, the storyteller doesn’t villainize the father. The cultural aspects and historical baggage on him, is shown in a subtle manner. The short film ends on a more hopeful note, yet you can’t help feel harrowed at this marriage.
The filmmaker is restrained in her approach and at no point does the message feels forced. There are some beautiful moments between the two sisters. Similarly, there are subtle reminders from the beginning as to what this kids’ fate would be. For example, the paper used to make the toy plane has the words “happy husband”.
Without any dialogues, the film relies heavily on the background score. Laura Karpman delivers by pepping up the fun moments with upbeat music and cutting to sombre sound as the mood switches. It is highly impactful.
Another big plus is the animation. Communication is happening with facial expressions and the audience can grasp it. The grief of the mother and the child bride, the disappointment of the son, the social pressure on the father and child-like dreamy eyes of the younger sister, everything is depicted wonderfully. Animation director Kamran Khan and Art director Syed Salman Nasir have done a stellar job.
It is an inspiring film. A simple story told in a poignant manner. Plus animated stories in our part of the world are few and far between. Definitely take out 13-minutes for this one.