Pakistani film maker wins highest International film award in Toronto

Tanya Panjwani, a Pakistani American currently living in Toronto, has won a prestigious ‘Making a Difference Award’ for her masterpiece documentary. The theme of her short film ‘Marvi: The Mystic Muse’ is the life of Sanam Marvi, a Pakistani Sufi singer. Panjwani achieved the feat at the Global Community Film Festival which was held in Toronto, Canada and lasted for six days.

Out of the 100 short films, 25 were to be selected for screening and only two would be crowned as the award winners. Tanya impressed the honored jury which also included an Oscar winner with her brilliant skills and talent. The award ceremony was held on the last day of the glamorous film festival, where the jury presented the winners with MADA: Making a Difference Award.

The one-hour documentary portrayed the rich Sufi culture of Pakistani, particularly of Punjab and Sindh. The underlying theme of the short film was peace and love, which was depicted quite brilliantly through Sufi music and poetry. Sufism is at its best at the shrines and Tanya capitalized on it, displaying various footages filmed at the shrines of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Baba Bulleh Shah, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast and a few others.

The documentary aimed at illustrating the rich traditions of Punjab and Sindh which are being practiced even today which began very long ago, when these Sufis were still alive, preaching message of Love and Peace. The glaring heritage of these regions never gets old and Panjwani highlighted it in a very fascinating manner.

The dexterity with which Sanam’s unshakable passion, doting relationship with her father, mesmerizing singing potential, modest nature and the challenges faced by her in a reserved yet colorful society coupled with the Sufi cultured in Pakistan were presented by Panjwani made her film leave behind the rest of the films with ease.

This is Tanya’s first independent production and there’s no stopping her now. She aspires to portray the lives of other passionate singers and artists who are trying to keep the long standing mystic Sufi culture alive through music and art. She believes that the rampant extremism can be challenged through music. She spoke about her achievement, saying:

It is a great honor for me. I was compelled to tell Sanam Marvi’s story after attending her live performance in Canada two years ago. This film is important for people as it is an opportunity to witness and understand the message of peace and oneness of all faiths that has been delivered through Sufism for centuries.

It is a great achievement for Tanya and also for Pakistan. She certainly will be a huge name in the global film industry in the years to come.


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