Jemima Khan, Jaime Ray Newman Board Seemab Gul’s ‘Sandstorm’ as Executive Producers (EXCLUSIVE)

Jemima Khan (“What’s Love Got to Do With It?”) and Jaime Ray Newman (“Dopesick”) have boarded Seemab Gul’s Oscar-qualifying short film “Sandstorm” as executive producers.

A coming of age story, centering around a Pakistani schoolgirl called Zara, “Sandstorm” navigates the “tricky terrain of internet dating in a conservative Muslim society,” according to the logline as well as questions “the objectification of the female body and its relationship to honor in Pakistani culture.”

In the short, Zara sends her virtual boyfriend a “sensual dance video” which he then uses to blackmail her. “Caught between his manipulative behaviour and the desire to experience love on her own terms, Zara searches for the strength to reject the confines of a patriarchal society,” reads the synopsis.

The short snagged top awards at Rhode Island and HollyShorts Film Festivals.

The film is written, directed and co-produced by Gul, a Pakistani artist and filmmaker based in London with a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Filmmaking from the London Film School. It is produced by Abid Aziz Merchant with cinematography by Alberto Balazs.

Newman won the Oscar for best live action short in 2019 alongside her husband Guy Nattive for “Skin.” Khan’s directorial feature debut, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” premiered at TIFF last month. She also executive produced documentary “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks.”

“Seemab Gul has crafted a beautiful, moving piece of art that in only 20 minutes thrusts you into the nuanced life of what young women around the world must endure in restrictive societies,” said Newman. “As the mother of two small daughters, I know how lucky they are to live in a country that allows them freedom of expression, but I also know how easily those rights can be taken away. ‘Sandstorm’ is a quiet, moving battle cry, a film that must be seen around the world and I am honored to come on board.”

Khan said: “Seemab Gul’s “Mulaqat” (“Sandstorm”) artfully explores themes which are both specific to conservative cultures like Pakistan but also universally relevant and relatable for all women – the objectification of the female body and the vulnerability of young women online. Having lived in Pakistan for a decade, and with two half Pakistani sons, I am delighted to support such a powerful film from one of the country’s most gifted young filmmakers.”

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