Pakistan is not just about militants and mullahs. This independent
debut feature film, directed by Hammad Khan and produced by Menhaj
Huda (Kidulthood), is inspired by the US genre of small-town slacker
films. It focuses on a group of privileged and westernised twenty-something
friends who while away their days and nights driving around town,
partying, surfing the internet and smoking shisha pipes in the sleepy
capital city of Islamabad. As the country outside their small world
starts to crack, Hasan and his friends must face up to reality,
relationships, internal angst and life choices before it is too
The film challenges the images and perceptions of Pakistani youth
dominant in international media while also being a personal
love letter to Islamabad and to its young dreamers as they continue
to search for their identity and future.
However Slackistan has generated a string of objections from Pakistani
authorities, preventing its release in cinemas across the country.
The Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) objected to several scenes
in the film which use bad language, make references to the Taliban
and the surrounding religious extremism and insecurity around the
lives of the young people in the city.
The filmmaker Khan states, The censor boards verdict
is oppressive, arbitrary and steeped in denial about life outside
their government offices. Maybe the establishments view is
that young Pakistanis saying words like Taliban and
Lesbian represent a more potent threat than the bullets
and bombs that are, day by day, finding increasing legitimacy in
Apart from being an undemocratic restriction on the filmmakers
right of expression, the verdict shows the disdain with which the
authorities regard local film culture and liberal ideas, in the
face of growing extremism and intolerance.
Despite this Slackistan has had successful screenings at festivals
in London, Abu Dhabi, New York, San Francisco and Goa.