Being Women

Sitara: Let Girls Dream. A Powerful Animated Film Advocating for Girls’ Empowerment

12 million girls forced into child marriage annually, facing violence, health risks, and lost education. "Sitara" sheds light on this global issue.
Directed bySharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Written bySharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Produced byGloria Steinem
Music byLaura Karpman
NetflixWaadi Animations
Distributed byNetflix
Release date8 March 2020
Running time15 minutes

The film “Sitara” won three awards at the 2019 Los Angeles Animation Festival, for Best Produced Screenplay, Best Music Score and the Humanitarian Award.

The Plot

This 15-minute silent animated movie carries a profound and lasting message. Set in 1970s Pakistan, the film follows the story of Pari, a teenage girl living in the old city of Lahore, who aspires to become a pilot. She treasures a book by Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator and draws her inspiration from her flying escapades.

The movie begins with Pari crafting paper rockets on the roof of her house. She and her younger sister Mehr launch the paper rockets in the air, symbolising their dreams taking flight. They watch their rocket with excitement soaring high over their neighbourhood but hide away once it strikes their father, who indignantly knocks it off.

There is a tension building between their parents, and they get to know the reason soon. Pari’s father wants her to be married to a much older man and doesn’t care about her consent. His wife’s quibbles also don’t affect him. Mehr and her brother silently rebel against their father’s attitude.

Child marriage steals futures

The film’s portrayal of Pari’s fate in the hands of her father is both heartbreaking and eye-opening. A girl who could have reached heights of success in her life is forced into marriage at a tender age. Yes, like the subtitle says—let girls dream, do not clip their wings, and let them soar high in their life.

Clipped Wings, Broken Lives

A message appears at the end of the movie, “Around the world every year, the dreams of 12 million child brides will never take flight”. True indeed, even today many girls are forced into child marriage across the globe and have to bear the harsh consequences that come with it. The majority of them are girls wed to much older men. It often leads to increased domestic violence, unwanted pregnancy, and dangerous health consequences.

Breaking the Cycle

Undoubtedly the best gift that can be given to a girl is the gift of education that leads to financial independence and allows her to live with dignity. So, we must invest in a girl’s education, not her dowry. She should not be considered a burden and married off at a young age. We need more women in every field, be it technology, medical sciences, women entrepreneurs, and women leaders in Fortune 500 companies. We need their perspective, their approach to solving problems and their ability to care and nurture.

Men Flourish When Women Soar

Men at work will only be benefited by the potential of a woman. We have witnessed the miracles women have done when given a chance. History has enough proof of such brave women. So, let them read more books, write fierce lines that have never been written before, raise their hands and ask bizarre questions, play their favourite sport, travel to places for higher education, do nontraditional jobs and follow their dreams that might sound crazy– just let them be.

Beyond Words: The Use Of Animation to Tell a Powerful Story

This 2020 Pakistani animated short film directed and written by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is a wake-up call that urges us to rethink our materialistic pursuits and take relevant action. While we spend our time mindlessly scrolling social media to keep track of people’s make-believe worlds or browse online shopping applications for getting that stunning look there are 12 million girls married before the age of 18 every year, which makes it 23 girls per minute. This movie is exactly what the whole world needs right now, and not just women. It prompts us to question the dogmas of our society and encourages us to make a difference. 


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