New to VOD this week: WITHOUT SHEPHERDS
Cary McClelland and Imran Babur’s survey of Pakistani life made its bow at Slamdance last year. Other fest stops included Sarasota, Brooklyn, Newport Beach, Kansas, Toronto’s Reel Asian, and the United Nations Association Film Festival. It now debuts on VOD platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon, Vimeo, and Cable on Demand.
In many ways a response to alarmist fears of Pakistan being among the most dangerous places on Earth due to its proximity to Afghanistan, McClelland and Babur partnered with both locals and Americans to create this multi-character look at the country, focused around the tumultuous events of 2008. As popular opinion turned against President Musharraf while America’s war in Afghanistan in the waning months of Bush’s tenure continued to have an impact on both sides of the border, the filmmakers opted to identify six modern Pakistanis reflecting a diverse range of backgrounds and concerns. This panoramic view of Pakistan is represented by former cricket champion turned political hopeful Imran Khan, fashion model/no-nonsense business woman Vaneeza Ahmad, expatriate Sufi musician Arieb Azher, truck driver/family man Abdullah Khan, investigative journalist Laiba Yousafzai, and student/ex-mujahid Mohammed Ibrahim. As with many such projects, some subjects pop more than others – here Khan and Ahman’s public and forceful personalities tend to dominate, while Ibrahim remains fairly unmemorable – and there’s a struggle at times to properly demonstrate a consistent throughline between such disparate individuals, but the film succeeds in showing the complexity of a country and its people that might otherwise be too simply represented in mainstream media.