Name: Sitara: Let Girls Dream
Released: March 2020
Available on: Netflix
Review: Written and directed by two-time Oscar winner Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy, Sitara is a story of a 6-year old Mehr, who is seen playing around and flying paper planes with her 14-year old sister, Pari. All games and glee come to an end as their father walks into the picture, with a beautiful red and gold khussa for Pari. It is part of her bridal ensemble.
It’s a short film, has no dialogues, a Netflix original and a first from Pakistan. There isn’t much to critique or praise, as it is short and serves more as a social messaging endeavor than a cinematic wonder. Child marriage is an epidemic is many South Asian countries, and there are reported cases of underage girls forced into matrimony even in 2020. Chinoy chose to raise awareness about it, make it a part of mainstream conversation, and for that she deserves an applause.
Sitara also emphasises the role that mothers play in child marriage menace, as they choose silence over rebellion, and accept that their daughters will meet the same fate as them – married at puberty. A child depends on his/her parents to protect them, and the only way child marriages can be stopped is if the parents take it upon themselves to do just that – protect them.
According to the latest amendment in Pakistani Child Marriage Restraint Bill, the minimum age of marriage for a girl is 18. However, it is widely violated, especially in Sindh, where girls as young as 12 are married off to men thrice their age. This has a direct impact on overall women’s illiteracy in the country as well as their compromised health (both physical and mental). Sitara attempts to remind parents around the world that a child, regardless of their gender, has a right to education and dreams, and that it is their responsibility to ensure that their child isn’t deprived of either.
I would recommend you to watch it, and then take the message with you to a wider audience, such as your house help, security guards, and grocery man.