The Pakistani film industry may appear to be just about fun Eid releases but young, independent filmmakers are working hard to expand the industry and take it up a notch.

Pakistani filmmaker Saim Sadiq’s Darling is on its’ way to becoming the first Pakistani film to be screened at the 76th edition of the prestigious Venice Film Festival. The oldest film festival, the Venice Film Festival is part of the ‘Big Three’ a term used for the three most prestigious film festivals in the world namely Cannes, Berlin and Venice.

Set in a dance theatre in Lahore, Darling revolves around a young boy and a trans girl. Speaking exclusively to The Current, the film’s director said, “Darling is loosely based on my feature film in-development ‘Gulaab’ – both being an exploration of masculinity and femininity set in a highly sexualized erotic dance subculture that exists like an open secret in an otherwise repressive Pakistani society. It’s in equal parts a coming-of-age story, a queer celebration, and a love letter to the Bollywood dream.”


The main cast of the film includes Abdullah Malik who plays Shani and Alina, a trans girl from Lahore who makes her acting debut with this film.

The supporting cast of the film includes Nadia Afgan of Suno Chanda fame and Mehar Bano. Nadia will also be producing the film along with Mahak Jiwani. The film has been directed by Saim Sadiq, who is currently a student of Film Directing at Columbia University in New York. Mo Azmi, of Cake, was the Director of Photography.

The world premiere of Darling will take place in Venice in September 2019.