Reclaiming Pakistan

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Lisa Donato

What motivated you to make your impact video?

I was affected by the bravery of these ordinary citizens who risk their lives every day in order to save their country and humanity. I felt like it was a critical story to tell.


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

PAKISTAN FOR ALL is a grassroots organization that works to fight the spread of religious extremism and state fascism in Pakistan in all their myriad forms. Their aim is to defend and preserve the religious and personal freedoms of every individual in Pakistan as enshrined in the constitution and to be a frontline force against fanaticism.


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

Social Media is giving repressed communities and demographics a platform to be able to speak up against injustice.


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

Courage is a choice.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

Following Pakistan For All on social media and sharing their messages worldwide. We would love to make a feature film about their brave fight against terrorism.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:


Is there a particular video, film, campaign or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Jill Soloway


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

DSLR 5D because it’s small and flexible enough to transport quickly between locations and shot set ups.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this impact video.

I got to host Jibran in my home in the Bay Area during his visit in the U.S. After his speaking engagements, Fawzia and I sat in my living room with Jibran and talked about his dream for Pakistan. I learned that Jibran was not only inspirational on stage in front of hundreds of people, but he was deeply passionate about his fight for justice behind closed doors. He is progressive and brave and I’m lucky to have spent personal time with him.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your impact video to help tell your story. 

We worked with local photographers in Pakistan to collect additional stills and video footage to help us tell a better story.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

We just had interviews and b-roll with a few members of the organization, Pakistan For All, that took place over 3 days. It was hard to find the story with limited footage, so we had to collect additional photo stills and video footage. Once we found footage of Jibran’s protest and some of the last video footage of Sabeen Mahmud, we knew we had an impactful video. Fawzia Mirza and Lisa Donato worked in a sound booth in Oakland to write and record Fawzia’s voice over narration.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this impact video.

Jibran Nasir did a speaking tour in the U.S. right after the video was made. He showed the video at the beginning of every speech and the students were greatly impacted by his efforts. We dedicated the video to Sabeen Mahmud, who was murdered during the production of the film.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Always follow your instinct and never be afraid to tell the truth.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

I love seeing the story come alive in post production. When you have good music and score, the video feels so cinematic. We were lucky to have music by the famous Pakistani musician, Arieb Azhar. We also had great score written by Nicholas Statan.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

Phone or small journal so I can record notes as soon as I have an idea.



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