Film About Youth Suicide – Reflects the alarming suicide phenomenon in Chitral, Pakistan
Inspired by true events, “Darya Kay Iss Paar” (This Bank of The River) is a film about Gull Zareen, a young girl in a village in Northern Pakistan, who chooses to end her life due to depression and a growing sense of isolation.
The film, produced by US based producer Nighat Akbar Shah about her native village, is a sad commentary about the alarming rise of suicides in Northern parts of Pakistan, in the face of rigid social norms and taboos.
Compounding the sense of isolation is the cold and gloomy mountainous surroundings, the insular village culture and the limited economic opportunities. The pressures that began for Gull as a student mount after she is forced into an arranged marriage. She cries for help but no one acknowledges her feelings or thoughts. Then on one gloomy morning she throws herself over the village bridge into the river and drowns.
This story reflects the growing problem of suicides in Northern Pakistan and the prevalent cultural norms and biases towards mental illness. In these closed and conservative societies, the topic of mental health is taboo and suicide is seen as a family issue.
The film captures the tragic roller-coaster ride of emotions as the young girl struggles to make sense of life, and then resorts to ending her own.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) every year approximately 1 million people die from suicide, and that rate is rising. While Pakistan is no exception, cultural customs prevent these issues from being discussed rationally, and in doing so restrict mental health education and assistance.
“Darya Kay Iss Paar,” directed by Shoaib Sultan and staring Hibba Aziz in the lead role, was produced by Adur Productions. The film continues to garner international awards including three of the four major categories at the New York City International Film Festival, for best film, best director, and best lead actress.
The film is also an official selection at the International Film Festival of South Asia Toronto and at the After Hour Film Festival. It has also been recognized as a semi-finalist at the Fade-In Awards and received a special festival mention at the 11th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival.
The film’s trailer can be viewed at https://youtu.be/qH7h4Jdrs9c