Faced with persistent violence against women and high levels of sexual assault and domestic violence, feminists in the city of Karachi, Pakistan, organize a women’s march, facing threats from the state, the media and the country’s radical religious right. Director Anam Abbas follows the march’s organizers as they negotiate amidst surveillance, paranoia and insecurity, hoping to spark a revolution. This philosophically-inflected documentary is not only about the Aurat protest, but about the often revolutionary act of political organizing itself.
A word from Tënk
An exceptional and multi-faceted work, This Stained Dawn documents the organization of a women’s march by multiple feminist groups in Pakistan with great precision. While the film invites us to observe critiques of feminist movements from different angles, we follow the developments in this particular struggle through moments in the daily lives of several activists in Karachi. Capturing this crucial moment in modern Pakistani history with verve, filmmaker Anam Abbas presents us with a singular and essential feminist work punctuated with troubling archival stills and stirring sequences shot during demonstrations.
Aided by Abbas’ profoundly powerful shots, This Stained Dawn describes how the image of Muslim women is redacted and distorted by the state, to the benefit of patriarchal violence and colonial expansion. As the images of struggles and voices rising up against repression proliferate, the film’s animated sequences feel like a much-needed moment to remind us of the importance of joy and creativity. Helping deconstruct the Western feminist imagination, this documentary invites us to discover a rich and complex political architecture that we can’t help but admire.