10 to Watch – Mehreen Jabbar, Director

Her grandmother was one of the first Muslim women to go to Cambridge, and her mother runs a successful ad agency, so it’s not surprising that Pakistani TV director Mehreen Jabbar never considered herself restricted by her gender or nationality. To the contrary, she proved herself a force to be reckoned with almost as soon as she began bringing stories to film, at the ripe age of 23, producing numerous award-winning TV series and movies, as well as three highly acclaimed independent shorts. But it was her first feature film, released in 2008, that brought her international recognition. The true story of a 7-year-old Pakistani boy who accidentally crossed into India and ended up in jail, Ramchand Pakistani has made waves at festivals throughout the world, winning four major international awards. When not making powerful, life-changing films, Jabbar, currently based in New York, serves as a member of the National Board of Film Censors in Karachi, a founding member of WAR (War Against Rape), and an organizer of the Kara Film Festival, Pakistan’s only international film festival.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever gotten and from whom?
Always look on the bright side of life. Monty Python.

What do you consider your greatest professional success?
To continue wanting to tell stories as if I am doing it for the first time.

What do you consider your greatest personal failure?
My love hate relationship with laziness and 24 hour news channels.

Favorite all-time…
Novel: Blindness
Album: Abba’s greatest Hits
Song: “Chal diye” by Zeb and Haniya
Film: Bicycle Thief
TV Show: Seinfeld
Invention: Electricity
Painter: Edward Hopper
Athlete: Martina Navratilova
Food: Potato

How would you define love?

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
The concept of ‘the other’. Because it fuels ignorance, intolerance and self righteousness.

Describe your perfect day.
Spring sun, walking with comfortable shoes, an incredible film in the theater with diet coke and chips smuggled in from the outside, finishing with a meal and conversation in a restaurant.

List three things you cannot live without.

Ipod, eye liner, cinema.

What’s your prize possession?
My grandmother’s autograph book from the early 20’th century.

What’s exciting for you in 2011 – what do we have to look forward to?
Hopefully a final script for the next feature, 3 TV series for Pakistan to be shot in New York, a docu-drama to be shot in Pakistan, and a short film in English thrown in there.

More on Mehreen Jabbar at http://www.mehreenjabbar.com/

See our complete “List of 10 to Watch”

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