Uzma Aslam Khan on A Thin Wall

Posted by on Apr 6, 2017 in News

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Pakistani novelist Uzma Aslam Khan, whose work is included in A Thin Wall, introduced the film in these words at the screening at Hampshire College in April 2017:

I’m thrilled to welcome you this evening, to the film screening of A Thin Wall. Thank you to all those who made this possible: South Asian Political Cultures, Eqbal Ahmad Initiative, Creative Writing Program, School of Critical Social Inquiry, Office of Diversity & Multicultural Education, Law Program, Spiritual Life, and Third World Studies. A warm thank you especially to my lovely and incredible colleagues and co-organizers, Uditi Sen and Margaret Cerullo.

It’s an honor and a joy to have the filmmaker, Mara Ahmed, here with us. I’m going to say a little about Mara, and the film, then she’ll say a few words. After the screening, we’ll open the floor to questions.

[…] I first came into contact with Mara when she was still in the process of making A Thin Wall, because we both come from families who were, and still are, divided by Partition. Once the film was made, one of the things that struck me most was how the script and the visuals – often through multiple layers of narrative that include animation and include silences – all of it, so delicately capture the rootlessness of those who’ve inherited the pain of partition. We’re scattered everywhere, as though once we scatter we keep scattering. I also appreciated how many of her storytellers of Partition are women. I sent her an email saying as much, and she replied, and I quote her, “the film is more of a collage than straightforward narrative. I wanted it to ebb and flow much like memory and leave the audience to fill in some of the gaps and make their own connections. I don’t see documentary as a substitute for journalism but rather as a piece of art – like any filmmaking – except that it deals with real people and real stories. I am also unapologetic about creating feminine film or writing or art. I’m constantly aware that we are stuck in an artistic syntax which is predominantly male.”

I hope it’s okay to share that exchange with everyone here, but I think it’s so crucial, as we reimagine our past and our present, and reimagine what we mean by borders and how they shape and distort us, to celebrate the voices, the memories, and the silences of those on all sides of all borders – as those who are most affected are the ones most often written out of history.

Uzma Aslam Khan