Dinner with the President

A film by Sabiha Sumar and Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Pakistan/Germany | 2007 | 82 minutes | Color/BW | DVD | English/Urdu | Subtitled | Order No. 171222

Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar and co-director Sachithanandam Sathananthan request a dinner with President Musharraf as he’s facing impeachment charges and engage him in an enlightening discussion about the past and his vision for the country.

SYNOPSIS

When Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar and co-director Sachithanandam Sathananthan request a dinner with President Musharraf as he’s facing impeachment charges in 2007, to their surprise the request is granted. They engage him in an enlightening discussion about the past and his vision for the country. Going beyond the dinner table, the filmmakers interview a wide range of Pakistanis including religious fundamentalists and young beach partiers about issues such as the role of women in politics and the meaning of democracy. The conversations reveal a nation full of contradictions, where ethnic and tribal loyalties struggle against modernization. DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT asks audiences to rethink conventional Western wisdom about individual rights, power, and political process.

PRESS

"The movie makes engaging points on the political evolution of Pakistan. Confident and cool-headed, Ms. Sumar is a dynamic screen presence and shrewd interlocutor."

The New York Times

"In interviews with citizens of all backgrounds, the filmmakers absorbingly convey the worldview of the Pakistanis - as well as their displaced hopes."

Time Out

SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS

  • Anasy Best Film Award in Abu Dhabi
  • EU Award for Best Documentary
  • Sundance Film Festival

ABOUT FILMMAKER(S)

Sabiha Sumar

Sabiha Sumar is a Pakistani filmmaker.

Born in Karachi, Sabiha Sumar studied Filmmaking and Political Science at Sarah Lawrence College in New York from 1980–83 and then read History and Political Thought at Cambridge University.

As an independent filmmaker, Sabiha Sumar has earned much acclaim for her films, which deal with political and social issues such as the effects of religious fundamentalism on society, and especially on women. Her first feature film, 'Silent Waters (Khamosh Pani)' has played in film festivals around the world. Silent Waters won the Golden Leopard award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2003. Sabiha's first documentary, Who Will Cast the First Stone, about three women in prison in Pakistan under Islamic law won the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1998. Her documentary films include Don't Ask Why (1999), For a Place under the Heavens (2003), On the Roofs of Delhi (2007), and Dinner with the President (2007).

Who Will Cast the First Stone led to the quashing of death-by-stoning sentence for Shahida Parveen, accused of adultery, while For a Place under the Heavens kicked off a critical debate on women wearing the hijab in the Muslim World. (8/14)

Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, Sachithanandam Sathananthan holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and has produced and directed a number of acclaimed films spanning across both fictional and documentary genres. Sathananthan’s interests often reside in the subject of national and social movements, particularly concerning issues of gender and religion in Pakistan, as well as his native Sri Lanka. His producing credits include WHERE PEACOCKS DANCE (1992), SUICIDE WARRIORS (1996), and KHAMOSH PANI: SILENT WATERS (2003) a feature film about the growth of Islamic extremism in Pakistan, which won the Grand Leopard prize at the 56th Locarno International Film Festival. All three films were produced by the Pakistan-based company Vidhi Films, which Sathananthan co-founded.

Vidhi Films also produced the widely acclaimed DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT: A NATION’S JOURNEY (2007), of which Sathananthan co-directed with frequent collaborator Sabiha Sumar. The film centers around intimate dinner conversations with the former President Pervez Musharraf, who seized complete control of Pakistan in 1999 via a military coup. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury prize at Sundance in 2008, premiering in the festival’s World Cinema Documentary section. (3/19)

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