The Streets Are Ours: Two Lives Cross in Karachi

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$10,125 raised of $5,000 goal
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Funded on October 28, 2016
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With this campaign, my goal is to complete a project that has been difficult to turn back to, but that quite literally helped me find my voice as an artist. The Streets Are Ours: Two Lives Cross in Karachi is a short documentary film that contains the final interview with Pakistani activist Sabeen Mahmud, conducted just two months before she was brutally murdered in Karachi. I began making this film in 2014 when Sabeen invited me to share my work in the café that she founded there. As a queer Pakistani Muslim, I didn’t think I would ever get the opportunity to perform in my home country. But she created a space for free expression and for people like me, and for many others, and ultimately gave me a platform to find and further my commitment to using art as a form of change. Through my perspective and a candid interview with Sabeen, this film shares how our lives intersected, thereby impacting and transforming my life forever. We have all the footage for the film, but the post-production is not complete, which we need to do in order to release and distribute the film. Your donations will help us bring this important film to fruition, so that it and Sabeen’s message can be seen, heard, and shared. 

About This Project

In fall 2014, I was introduced by email to Sabeen Mahmud through a friend. Sabeen Mahmud was the founder and director of T2F (The Second Floor), an amazing café and performance space in Karachi, Pakistan. The café was a safe space for art, comedy, music, workshops, meetings, conversations, and, of course, chai and coffee. Sabeen told me when I visited Pakistan a few months later I could use her space to share my work. Given the nature of my work and the LGBTQ content, I had never considered this before. But in January 2015, I performed an excerpt of my play, Me, My Mom and Sharmila, at T2F. The response was extremely positive. With the help of filmmaker Tazeen Bari, I recorded an interview with Sabeen afterwards because I was so inspired by her mission.

A month later, based on a referral from Sabeen, I was asked by Zain Ahmed at NAPA (The National Academy of Performing Arts) and the American Consulate in Pakistan to return for a three-city tour of the entire play. I enlisted the help of friend and filmmaker, Anam Abbas, to document my show and my personal experience with this tour. In my eyes, I was going to be the first openly lesbian person in Pakistan to share my stories publicly, on a stage, and I wanted to record it. Sabeen did a Q & A with me after my first show. Over the course of two weeks, I performed three shows and gave ten workshops across the country. That trip is when I realized that this work was less about me and more about creating space for other people’s voices, people with stories like my own that weren’t being heard. That’s what Sabeen was doing with T2F. That’s what Sabeen did for me. And that tour was the last time I saw her. One month after our Q & A, she was brutally murdered for her beliefs.

It took me a while to figure out what to do next with my film footage, but I wanted the world to know how she impacted my life and the influence one human being can have in the world. So with the help of friend and director, Michelle Fiordaliso, and editors Caitlin Dixon and Mina Fitzpatrick, we found our way to this story, and this film. Now we need your help to finish it and share it with the world. 

To learn more:

"Sabeen Mahmud, Martyr for Free Speech" New York Times, April 29, 2015

"Murdered on the Streets of Karachi" The Guardian, April 27, 2015

"Karachi's Wild Child" The Economist, May 2, 2015

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Enthusiastic shout-out on social media. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Your name in a ‘SPECIAL THANKS’ section of the film credits. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above, plus a digital download of the film. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    All of the above, plus a signed poster of the film. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Skype with me and/or director Michelle Fiordaliso, plus a digital download, and ‘SPECIAL THANKS’ in the film credits. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    “Associate Producer” credit on the completed film, plus digital download, and signed film poster. ($0.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1500
    "Associate Producer" credit, plus a private screening and home-cooked Pakistani dinner in Chicago (transport/lodging not provided) ($0.00 is tax deductible.)

Fawzia Mirza

Community Awardee

Fawzia Mirza is an award-winning actor, comedian, producer, and writer. She was selected as a 2015 3Arts Award recipient in Theater, named to the New City Magazine Film 50 and a “Top 10 Creative” by Indiewire magazine, one of Chicago's 'Rising Stars' …

View Fawzia Mirza's profile
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