Thatta’s climate crisis film Natari arrives at COP26 international festival

Natari poster showing the fishermen of Thatta. Picture; Youtube

A pale sky reflects off an empty ocean, creating an endless and desolate landscape interrupted only by the wooden fishing boat of Ayoub Sehto and his son. Sehto’s colorless world palette is not how you and I imagine dystopia, but the world he knows is moving away, taking with it not only an entire village, but also marine life and water. gentle who sustained him, leaving the earth withered. Dystopia is there, and Natari of Jawad Sharif and Haroon Riaz is his testimony.

Movie Natari (which means anchor in Sindhi) is part of the official selection for the Climate Crisis Film Festival 2021, to be held as part of COP26 in Glasgow, UK, and online November 1–14. It brings home the issue of climate migration and is a poetic portrait of the migrant’s helplessness, difficult choices and pain. Sharif’s filmography reads in some ways like praise written on the death beds of worlds that escape us – things that die but are worth saving as they are the very essence of who we are. . Landscape and social identity still occupy an important place. In Indus Blues (2019), for example, Sharif focuses his lens on Pakistan’s dying musical instruments and the identity crisis engulfing the country.

Sharif has moved from commercial television production to non-fiction storytelling to talk about stories that have no place in mainstream media. Concerned about apathy in the face of the climate crisis in Pakistan, he decided to do what he does best: push for action through films. He launched the Climate Kahani campaign, which focuses on local stories and Natari (45 minutes) is the first film in this effort. “By adding kahani to the climate,” he says. “[W]e wanted to integrate it into the local context; we have to communicate in the language of the people.

He hopes that in Ayoub, a fisherman and activist of Kharo Chan, Pakistanis can see someone like them and realize that climate change is not something distant happening in Greece or Australia, but here, at home too.

Sharif talks about the challenges of filming the film itself to Kharo Chan, who has no electricity or clean water. In Kharo Chan, which is located in the Indus Delta region where the freshwater from the Indus River meets the Arabian Sea, climate migration and water distribution policies have forced most residents to desert the island.

Jawad Sharif - Wikipedia
Jawad Sharif. Photo: Wikipedia

The slow and long shots that punctuate the film are a conscious choice; they reflect the helplessness and frustration of Sehto and his son in the face of nature and the apathetic politics of the state. The grass is barely greener on mainland areas like Thatta or Karachi. Their fellow citizens who have already fled the impending catastrophe, live alienated and uncomfortable lives as migrants, cut off from their ancestral land and their vocation.

The effects of climate change overlap with politics, an oppressive feudal structure and broader state policy on water management that can choke the delta and the rich human, marine, and plant life it supported. The challenges of taking the initiative to advocate for climate action are endless. Among them is the fatalistic attitude of the people. “Everything is left to divine intervention; they say nothing can happen in Pakistan, ”says Sharif. He believes that such a state of mind relieves people of the responsibility to act on their own. Added to this are bureaucratic challenges. He believes films like his could be the first step in influencing policy change. But with ministers who are difficult to reach, the process is hampered.

Everything is left to divine intervention; they say nothing can happen in pakistan

Jawad Sharif

Sharif screened the film locally at universities and private exhibition spaces. The comments have always been that people weren’t aware of climate migration in Pakistan until they saw the film. This is why Sharif believes that being featured on an international platform such as the Climate Change Film Festival is a great opportunity to shed light on the climate in Pakistan. “It could be a first step. My skills are to tell a story authentically… but maybe someone who sees it can take action, ”he says. At the very least, being presented on an international platform means the film has reach and pressure is created. “We need hundreds of films like this…” Sharif said. “[P]People who care need to build a mainstream climate discourse.

As an independent filmmaker, Sharif faces the same hurdles such as funding and censorship as many others. If he is lucky enough to get commercial work in order to fund his passionate projects, censorship is more difficult to escape. After taking a year and a half to obtain the censorship certificate for Indus Blues, he frankly discusses the advisability of putting the word “dam” in this film. He instantly politicizes the issue, becoming a lawless area. He talks about his frustrations with the censorship committee: “Non-artists judge your art. Nonetheless, he says he is determined to resist the urge to self-censor and to continue speaking out on the pressing issues of our time.

The programming of the Climate Crisis Film Festival focuses on channeling constructive collective action and provides intersectional analysis of climate, politics, economy and social justice. Sign up to catch Natari for free until November 14, 2021.

official selection Climate Crisis Film Festival 2021, COP26, Thatta fishermen, Indus delta

Darcy J. Skinner

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