Project outputs include:


Article in peer-reviewed journal:

Imran, Rahat. “Locating the Storyteller in Silent Waters:Sabiha Sumar’s Cinematic Tale of Shared Histories and Divided Identities.” CINEJ Cinema Journal, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 2021, pp. 231–285, DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2021.426.


In her multi award-winning feature film Silent Waters (2003), Pakistani woman filmmaker Sabiha Sumar connects the socio-political traumas of the Partition of India and creation of Pakistan (1947) with the onset of military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization period (1977-1988) in Pakistan. Presenting a story based on real-life events, the film focuses on the impact of religious fundamentalism and nationalism on women in particular. Examining Silent Waters as an example of “history on film/film on history” (Rosenstone 2013), and film as an “agent, product, and source of history”  (Ferro 1983), the discussion identifies and analyzes the filmmaker’s  own tacitly embedded location and participation in the filmic narrative as an experiential  ‘auto/bio-historiographer’, arguing for the value of this new paradigm in Cinema Studies.

Dataset of films:

Imran, Rahat. (2022). MUSLIMWOMENFILM DATASET (1.0.0) [Data set]. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6659716.

As part of the project, a dataset of 290 auto/biographical film titles made by Muslim women filmmakers from Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Turkey from the 1980s to date was created. The data was drawn from scholarly studies, industrial reports, governmental and non-governmental bodies, film festivals, and filmmakers’ websites. The resulting dataset includes essential data for each film, and categorises them under a number of headings, selected to highlight important features of the films and of their auto/biographical approach. For more information, see the OBSERVATORY.


Article in peer-reviewed journal:

Imran, Rahat. ‘For Western Eyes: Nelofer Pazira’s Accented Returns to Afghanistan’


Appropriating relevant elements from Iranian film scholar Hamid Naficy’s formulation of an ‘Accented Cinema’ (2001) as guiding tropes for analysis, this paper focuses on the depiction of the post-Taliban period through a contextual and critical reading of Nelofer Pazira’s first documentary film Return to Kandahar (2003) and her debut feature film Act of Dishonour (2009) on the topic of ‘honour-killing.’ The paper examines how these films portray ‘accented’ images captured and relayed by a diaspora Afghan woman filmmaker to appeal to distant and unversed Western/foreign audiences and film festivals. In addition to Naficy’s formulation of the ‘accented cinema’, I argue that  Pazira uses a formulaic accent and variances (also to be read as her emphases) in her depictions that are aimed specifically at appealing to Western audiences.

Book chapter:

Imran, Rahat. “Women’s Activist Filmmaking in Pakistan Against Gendered Violence.” 5000-word article by invitation by editors of Routledge Companion to Gender, Media and Violence (Volume Publication in 2023).



Imran, Rahat. Afghan Women Filmmakers (under contract with Routledge Publishers, Taylor & Francis Group, Media, Culture, and Social Change in Asia Series, forthcoming in 2023).


Silent Waters: A Tale of Multiple Transitions.” Transitions: Moving Images and Bodies, European Network for Cinema and Media Studies, NECS Online Conference, Palermo, Italy. 7–13 June 2021.

“Filmmaker as Experiential Historiographer.” Histories of Women in Film and Television: Then and Now. Virtual Conference, University of Maynooth, Ireland. 10–11 July 2021.

“Locating the Storyteller in Sabiha Sumar’s Silent Waters: A Tale of Shared Histories and Divided   Identities.” International Symposium (Online): Women’s Auto/biographical Cinemas: The Gendered Story. Symposium, H2020 MSCA-IF project: Locating the Storyteller: Muslim Women’s Auto/Biographical Cinema from the Muslim World. Department of Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, Ireland. 27–28 November 2021.


“Surviving the Taliban: Documenting Afghan Women’s Experiential History on Film.” Visible Evidence conference XXVIII: Images of History. The University of Gdansk, Poland. 10–14 August 2022.

“Addressing Religious Fundamentalism in Pakistan from a Gendered Lens.” Women’s History Network Annual Conference: Addressing the Nation. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK. 2–3 September 2022. (Online).