A democratic design council emerges amidst a military dictatorship! Pakistan’s outcry to save their ancient culture from the stains of fundamentalism and forced veiling; revealed through the story of Rizwan & Maheen, local icons who shepherd a design& craft community, defiantly launching a ‘fashion week’ as an open act of rebellion against Taliban, wrestling back hope from Pakistan’s war weary streets, proving how culture can be drivers for socio-political change
Pakistan, a land mired in misconceptions, seen as the face of Islamic terrorism and fundamentalist repression. A land once steeped in history and heritage, is now riddled by rampant terrorism engulfing its emerging generations under a dark shroud. On the other hand tech-packs replace traditional design, machines chase away silken skeins and the country’s rich fabric of culture & creativity is sacrificed at the altar of ‘outsource’. Rizwan Begy and Maheen Khan, local design icons refute this servitude, shepherding in a local design community, setting benchmarks, using local resources, employing women to reviving arts and crafts, they seek to provide sustainable incomes for embroiders and tailors, dyers, print makers and others affiliated with the dying cotton textile and crafts industry.
Ambitiously launching a ‘Democratic Design Council’ in a military dictatorship they become moving targets from the get-go. Pakistan’s largest media conglomerate joins hands with a global entertainment giant, threatening to ‘own’ Pakistani Fashion Week’- as entertainment fodder. Taking on a David and Goliath battle, Rizwan and Maheen do the unthinkable, crossing borders, seeking support from the Indian Design fraternity they sign in an MOU that joins two hostile neighbors into participation, setting a precursor for peace. Sharing information makes them realize the enormity at stake and how to tackle it with the guidance of their Indian counterparts.

Returning home, working alongside weavers and cotton mills (that had once accounted for 60% of the country’s revenues) they create a revival, inviting Pakistan into its own renaissance. Adopting villages, modernizing skills of indigenous crafts communities, creating sustainable incomes, they travel from nation to nation showcasing Pakistani talent - UAE, India, Colombo, and Milan- receiving standing ovations for revealing the soft face of a this nation. Their experience in Colombo proves to be a learning curve, watching Colombo’s designers continue to showcase their culture amidst crossfire, provides perfect inspiration.

Returning home to announce ‘Fashion Pakistan Week’ they brave fundamentalist threats and check posts that are stark reminders to the reality with the sounds of bombs for backdrop. Even the local media announces a blanket ban, but they remained defiant. Signaling in their Cultural Revolution, a culmination of their 3-year struggle, we witness it go from a mere dream until its realization. From the war weary streets of Pakistan, to flickering hope in universities; from phantasmagorical front rows to the dark alleys and grey markets of remote villages, we speak to cross-section of people who share how this one act of rebellion against the Taliban wrestled back hope, proving how culture can be drivers for socio-political change

Shot Across Pakistan/ India/ USA/ UAE/ Status: Patch Shoot March 2010/ Final Cut July-August 2010