Lahore: The Pakistan Four premiered to resounding applause at the Fulbright Centre in Lahore on Friday. The documentary film by Fulbright alumnus Shehzad Hameed is an inspirational account of four Pakistani-American women who challenged cultural expectations on their journeys to fulfil personal and professional aspirations.
The Pakistan Four follows award-winning Manhattan chef and winner of the reality cooking show Chopped, Fatima Ali, weight lifter Kulsoom Abdullah who campaigned and won the right for Muslim women to wear covered sports attire at U.S. national weight lifting competitions, Hareem Ahmad, an MIT graduate who left a career in Wall Street to become an award-winning professional saber fighter, and Nadia Manzoor, a stand-up comedian and actor.
The documentary was entirely shot and produced in the U.S. by Shehzad who at the time was on a Fulbright Masters Degree Scholarship to study News and Documentary Filmmaking at New York University (NYU) between 2012 -14.
“I wanted to showcase these women because their stories are uplifting and powerful. People need to hear about the amazing things Pakistani women are doing. To be able to go behind the scenes and capture their day-to-day experiences was truly humbling,” says Shehzad. “It was equally important to demonstrate how Pakistani women are changing the narrative when it comes to the types of careers they can chose and excel at,” adds Hameed.
Speaking to an audience comprised of filmmakers, Fulbright alumni, journalists, university professors, and students, USEFP Executive Director Rita Akhtar said, “USEFP is so proud to be able to send talented young people like Shehzad to great schools in the U.S. on the Fulbright Program. We expect our Fulbrighters to return to Pakistan and contribute to the nation’s social and economic development. Shehzad is a great example of the value of the Fulbright Program. He just returned and is already making a contribution with this wonderful film highlighting the achievements of Pakistani women in the U.S.”
The Pakistan Four has received critical acclaim in the U.S. following its world premiere at New York University Film Festival in 2014. Exclusive screenings of the film also took place at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition to the premiere in Lahore, several more screenings are planned for cities across Pakistan.