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‘IN FLAMES’ Trailer Paints a Haunting New Vision of Patriarchal Oppression in Pakistan

A haunting new vision of patriarchal oppression in Pakistan comes to light in award-winning Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker Zarrar Kahn‘s debut feature film, the psychological thriller In Flames. This ghostly parable marks the first Pakistani film to premiere in the Cannes Film Festival Director’s Fortnight in nearly 50 years.

Written and directed by Kahn, and starring Ramesha Nawal, Omar Javaid, Bakhtawar Mazhar, Adnan Shah Tipu, Mohammad Ali Hashmi and Jibran Khan, this chilling tale follows Mariam, a young woman living with her younger brother and their mother, Fariha, in a tiny apartment in Karachi. When Mariam’s maternal grandfather passes, his brother tries to manipulate them into signing over their apartment to him, a common occurrence in Pakistan, where women’s property rights are fragile. Mariam’s mother, grieving and isolated, is easy to influence.

Mariam, distraught by her mother’s foolishness, Mariam indulges in a secret romance with a fellow student, Asad. But as their relationship takes a dark turn, Mariam descends into nightmares that begin to invade reality. Oblivious to her daughter’s deteriorating mental state, Mariam’s mother remains caught between her coercive uncle and Pakistan’s murky legal system. Mother and daughter must come together if they hope to overcome the real and phantasmal forces that threaten to engulf them.

 “With In Flames I mean to explore the consequences of living in the confines of a fiercely patriarchal society. To illuminate the psychological impact of gendered oppression and the horror or being young and in love in Pakistan. To know the legacy of familial violence, and the desire to break free from the ghosts of our past,” says Kahn. “In Flames means to draw you into the dusty beauty of Karachi, and witness the hard choices that must be made to survive another day. Ultimately, it is about resilience – and my tribute to the millions who refuse to let circumstances define them.”

The film was Pakistan’s official entry for Best International Film in The Academy Awards, chosen for the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival’s Official Selection, and also took home the Golden Yust for Feature Film at the 2023 Red Sea Film Festival.

In Flames will release exclusively in theaters this April 12th and we’ll leave you with the chilling official trailer just debuted by Game Theory Films.

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