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For a Place Under the Heavens
A film by Sabiha Sumar
Pakistan/France, 2003, 53 minutes, Color, DVD, Urdu, Subtitled
Order No. W04845
Acclaimed director Sabiha Sumar, recent winner of the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for her feature Silent Waters, offers an insightful perspective on Pakistan in this finely crafted personal film. Beginning with the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Sumar traces the relationship of Islam to the state in an effort to understand how women are coping with and surviving the increasing religiosity of civil and political life in her country. Raised in a more secular time, she struggles to comprehend how religious schools have expanded at once unthinkable rates and presents chilling footage of a mother encouraging her toddler to be a martyr when he grows up. Mixing political analysis with interviews with activist colleagues, noted Islamic scholars and Pakistani women who have chosen to embrace fundamentalism, Sumar’s provocative questions dramatically capture the tension between liberal and fundamentalist forces that are shaping life in contemporary Pakistan.

“Less an ethnography than a philosophical and historical inquiry into the meaning of gender within Islam, it provides a witty, incisive, and important reflection on the "parameters" of gender hierarchy and, indeed, the "truth" of law, both secular and religious. Required viewing to understand some of the specific ideological conundrums within the sexual politics in Pakistan.” Joseph Boles, Northern Arizona University


  • Cape Town World Cinema Festival
  • International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam

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    “An extremely personal documentary in which the director confronts the harsh reality: that of a country where mothers take pride in teaching their sons to die as martyrs in order to win their place in paradise.”
    Le Monde Television

    “A faultless documentary about and for women by Sabiha Sumar, touching and intensely moving.”

    “Fascinating and compelling…a must-see for anybody interested in the complexity of female politics in transnational world dominated by religion and tradition.”
    Karen A. Ritzenhoff
    Central Connecticut State University

    “Highly recommended to viewers from junior high school to adult and to the libraries that serve them…Of value to viewers with an interest in Pakistan and in the place of women in Islamic societies.”
    Paul Moeller
    Educational Media Reviews Online

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    For a Place Under the Heavens is included in the following Special Collections.
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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us