Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 8 August 2020

Disney begins work on a film about a Pakistani family celebrating Eid

Director Aqsa Altaf was raised in a conservative Muslim household in Kuwait

Aqsa Altaf, who grew up in Kuwait, will direct the short film. Aqsa Altaf / Instagram
Aqsa Altaf, who grew up in Kuwait, will direct the short film. Aqsa Altaf / Instagram

A new short film about a Pakistani family attempting to celebrate Eid in the US is in its early stages of production.

The live-action short has been described as a "low-budget subscription video on-demand programme". It will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and directed by young and relatively unknown filmmaker Aqsa Altaf.

Altaf was raised in Kuwait by a conservative Pakistani father and Sri Lankan mother, so it is a subject matter that is particularly close to her heart.

Altaf is currently seeking to fill five roles for the film, which will be set in Los Angeles. Acting experience is not required, but the ability to speak Urdu is "a plus", the casting information says.

The short will be centred around a 7-year-old girl called Ameena, who is "a girl with strong determination and a big heart".

Ameena has recently immigrated to the US from Pakistan, and upon learning that her favourite holiday, Eid, is not recognised as a national holiday, she circulates a petition in the hopes that she and her sister can take the day off school.

Ameena's sister Zara is 13 years old and is determined to fit in at her new school in the US and to not draw attention to herself.

"She wants to be called Z, practices speaking with an American accent and wears clothes that show her legs," the casting information says.

Their father, Altaf, has to start from scratch to provide for his daughters in the US, and their mother, Jamila, is strict, and works full-time, while also taking evening classes to provide for the family.

The final role that needs filmed is that of a 70-year-old grandmother who remains in Pakistan.

While the director wouldn't be drawn on the finer details of the short, it's hard not to see potential parallels to her own life. The character of the father in the film has her last name, and Altaf moved to the US herself in search of a better life.

While she tells The National she can't release many details about the project just yet, she is "super excited about making a film about Eid".

Further details about the project are expected to be announced by Disney later this year.

Updated: May 11, 2020 06:01 PM

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