Films and documentaries, © Jürgen Schaflechner, researcher - filmmaker, working on political theory with a special focus on Pakistan.
— Thrust into Heaven —
Navigating around stereotypes of Islam and non-Muslim belonging in Pakistan, Thrust into Heaven showcases instances of so-called “forced conversions” of Hindu girls to Islam. These incidents often follow a sequence: a young Hindu woman disappears from her house or place of work, and resurfaces again as a married and newly converted Muslim. Once a conversion occurs and has been publicly announced, a combination of legal issues and the street power of extremist religious groups makes it nearly impossible for newly converted women to go back to their former lives. On the one hand, some of these conversions are, unfortunately, utilized to conceal criminal acts including kidnapping, human trafficking, and rape. On the other hand, they are examples of female agency and ways in which young women navigate through Pakistan’s rigid patriarchal society. Struggling for a dialogic approach to this sensitive topic, this film aims to give room to the various interpretations that emerge around the alleged forced conversion of Hindu women to Islam in Pakistan.
— There they call us Hindus. Here we are Pakistanis —
Full film (53 min)
After the partition of British India in 1947 many Hindu and Muslim families left their respective homes to settle down in the newly created states. Political agitation in the preceding decades had helped to produce the feeling that both nations – Hindus and Muslims – needed their own homeland to thrive. Still to this day this so called “two-nation theory” is perpetuated in many South Asian countries. This documentary portrays the life of Pakistani Hindus who left their homeland due to alienation, unemployment, and religious prosecution. In search of a better life they reach India where they realize they are not treated as lost, fellow Hindu brothers, but as unwelcome Pakistani intruders.
— Mother Calling. Kali in Karachi —
Full film (45 min)
The Devipujak Vagris of Karachi are a small Hindu community that worships a Mother Goddess. To ensure the members' well being, the community is obliged to sacrifice a minimum of one male goat to the Goddess on the festival of Navaratri, which occurs twice a year. Due to this bond the Mother speaks regularly to the community through the mouth of the Bhopa, the Vagri’s medium and ritual healer. In these weekly sessions, called “Hazri”, the community seeks guidance and the fulfillment of particular wishes. This documentary portrays the communities’ daily life and focuses on their desire to return home.
— Fakeera. An unexceptional story —
Full film 8 min
Stereotypes are lazy, frozen in time, yet always in need of assertion. The stereotype has always already arrived, even before it is actually there. The riots in 2012 that took place in Pakistan’s major cities following the release of a film portraying the Prophet Mohammad showed them again: the stereotypical scene of crowds burning shops, yelling words that everybody knows before they are even uttered. The media has shown what we already knew about Pakistan, because this is what they always do.
Far removed from what we hear in the news, this film portrays the life of an artist from Thando Allah Yar in the District of Sindh, Pakistan. Fakeera, a Hindu, is a successful sculptor of Hindu Gods and Goddesses for Pakistan’s Hindu temples. His story is unexceptional and thus introduces a side of Pakistan that many are not interested in portraying. The documentary shows the quiet life of an art loving man who teaches his Muslim apprentices the skill of creating remarkable images. This is a film too unexceptional for the usual coverage on Pakistan.
— ...on Becoming Gods —
Full film (44 min)
For several groups in India the pilgrimage to the shrine of Hinglaj Devi in Baluchistan, Pakistan, is the sine qua non ritual in their religious life. Pilgrims not only get the blessing of the goddess and are ritually purified of all sin, they also “reboot” their atman [soul] to its original state. After this pilgrimage Hinglajis, as people are called who successfully return from the journey, eventually do not get burnt on the pyre anymore, but instead are buried in their own little samadhi [tomb], where they are worshipped as devatmas [divine souls].