Locating the Storyteller in Silent Waters: Sabiha Sumar’s Cinematic Tale of Shared Histories and Divided Identities

Rahat Imran


In her multi award-winning feature film Silent Waters (2003), Pakistani woman filmmaker Sabiha Sumar connects the socio-political traumas of the Partition of India and creation of Pakistan (1947) with the onset of military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization period (1977-1988) in Pakistan. Presenting a story based on real-life events, the film focuses on the impact of religious fundamentalism and nationalism on women in particular. Examining Silent Waters as an example of “history on film/film on history” (Rosenstone 2013), and film as an “agent, product, and source of history”  (Ferro 1983), the discussion identifies and analyzes the filmmaker’s  own tacitly embedded location and participation in the filmic narrative as an experiential  ‘auto/bio-historiographer’, arguing for the value of this new paradigm in Cinema Studies.


Pakistan; Women Filmmakers; Partition; Islam; Auto/Biography; Historiography; Violence; Honour; Identity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2021.426


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