(aka 'Silent Waters' or 'Eau dormante' or 'Ewig fremd' or 'Silent Water' or 'Veeru')

Directed by Sabiha Sumar
Pakistan / France / Germany


  Silent Waters (Khamosh Pani), the first feature by Pakistani independent documentary filmmaker Sabiha Sumar, is an intense and rare cinematic perspective of the political evolution of Pakistan, the advent of fundamentalism and the fragile rights of ordinary women. The film was selected for The Times bfi London Film Festival 2005.

It is the hot summer of 1979 in the halcyon Pakistani Punjabi village of Charkhi near the Indian border. Ayesha (Kirron Kher) is a widow, haunted by the horrors of Partition. She lives for her 18-year-old son Saleem (Aamir Malik). He is deeply in love with the proud and beautiful Zubeida who is planning to be a career woman. All seems blissful in the village until the news of General Zia coming to power, and the arrival of two strangers from Lahore preaching revolutionary Islamic values. The young village men, including Saleem, quickly get swept up in the religious fervour. Matters intensify with the arrival of Sikh pilgrims from India who come to worship at the local shrine, Saleem breaks off with liberal Zubeida and begins carrying a gun. Ayesha has a mysterious visitor who forces her to unveil a shocking secret with catastrophic consequences.

Born in 1961 in Karachi, Sabiha Sumar has earned acclaim for her films which usually focus on the politics and social criticism of her native country and especially address the problems and conflicts of its women. Her first film, Who Will Cast the First Stone (1988),was shown on Channel 4 and won the Golden Gate award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. She subsequently set up her own production company and more TV documentaries followed including Where Peacocks Dance (1992) and Suicide Warriors (1996), about a women's suicide brigade and their struggle for a separate homeland for the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. In 1999 she made Don't AskWhy, featuring a 17-year-old girl's probing view of life in Pakistan, and in 2003 For a Place Under the Heavens, but it was Silent Waters that earned her global recognition. She comments:

"My films are about what we Pakistanis must think about, change or reflect upon. As film culture grows I am sure my work will be seen by a wider audience. Today however, it is restricted to private viewings or small screenings organized by women's organizations or cultural institutes. This decline was caused by General Zia's martial law, which killed the culture of cinema, and his hard censorship policies destroyed the small commercial film industry. Things seem to be changing for the better on the commercial film scene but it will still take a long time for any alternative cinema to take root in the country.".


Theatrical Release: August 15th, 2003 - Locamo Film festival

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:35:21 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.6 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Punjabi / Urdu (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: BFI  Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• 8 page liner notes booklet

DVD Release Date: April 24th, 2006

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 11




There is a fair amount of digital noise in the image, but colors look very good if heavy at times. It is not crystal clear but quite acceptable. There is a black border surrounding 3 of the 4 edges of the frame limiting the horizontal resolution.  Subtitles are well done and the liner notes are excellent. I enjoyed the film - it's quite interesting and beautiful.

There is a region 1 version of the film HERE by First Run Features (bit of a slap-dash outfit) but I don't own and am not sure how they compare.

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL


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Mississauga, Ontario,


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