Leading development consultancy and screenplay discovery platform ScreenCraft and Santa Monica-based media financier BondIt Media Capital have announced two recipients of their Fall 2017 Film Production Fund. The first is documentary project Karachi’s Unknown Dead, conceived by Samira Shackle, Owen Kean and Haya Fatima Iqbal. Innovative and impactful, the film is set in Karachi, Pakistan’s troubled, throbbing economic epicenter. It will center on the Edhi Foundation, which runs clinics, an ambulance service, a graveyard, and the city’s only functioning morgue and is the largest voluntary social welfare organization in the world. Per Shackle, Kean and Iqbal, “Its workers care for residents of Karachi from birth until death and after as they struggle against the dual pressures of poverty and violence. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the care they provide for these neglected dead: Edhi workers collect the bodies, try to track down their relatives, and ultimately bury them, according a respect in death that many did not have in life.”
The documentary will follow the journey taken by one of the myriad unidentified bodies that the Edhi Foundation collects through the system, from collection to burial – identified by nothing more than a serial number on a toe tag or wooden grave stone. It will be “an emotional journey in which we root for the people looking to bring dignity and closure to a forgotten life; a quest which involves painstaking investigation into the deceased’s story, and finds its culmination in a burial attended by strangers brought together to acknowledge a life lost regardless of circumstances.”
Kean is a Producer and Director, a two-time BAFTA Children’s Award winner and RTS Award winner. His work has ranged from communicating classical music to young people, bringing romantic poetry to life for a modern audience and creating a new visual format for The Kermode and Mayo Show, to uncovering the gritty underside of Rio’s hip-hop scene, documenting people’s shifting opinions on Brexit and investigating the cruel world of parental alienation. He is based in London, but remains a Liverpudlian despite the sliding accent.
Shackle is a freelance journalist writing across national newspapers and magazines. She has been covering Pakistan since 2011, writing in-depth stories driven by human interest, on subjects ranging from the murder of polio workers in 2014, the rise of ISIS in South Asia, and the fight for transgender rights in Pakistan. She lived in Karachi during a period of intense instability in 2012, and has covered the gang violence, the security crackdown, and the murky world of crime reporters and ambulance drivers. She won the 2015 Times’ Richard Beeston bursary, and has been shortlisted for a One World Media award and Words By Women award.
Iqbal is a documentary filmmaker based in Pakistan. She is the co producer of the Academy Award-winning short documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, and has also worked with CNN, BBC, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Deutsche Welle (DW), Huffington Post, Dawn, and Geo News among other media organizations. Besides making documentaries, Iqbal also teaches journalism and media to undergraduate students at the Habib University.
Also receiving a postproduction grant is the sci-fi short film Run, from actor and filmmaker Alex Lanipekun, and starring Aneurin Barnard, Nathalie Emmanuel, Wunmi Mosaku, and Jonathan Pryce. The film will also feature a score by Grammy Award-winning music producer Al Shux. Set in a dystopian future London, the deeply atmospheric script centers on a desperate man who must deliver an unusual package to a mysterious organization in order to save his terminally ill son.
The ScreenCraft Film Fund is administered biannually in amounts up to $30,000 to talented filmmakers with projects that display originality, vision, impact and exceptional development potential. The program accepts documentary and feature submissions in addition to short films and online series. View this cycle’s finalists here.
ScreenCraft provides ongoing creative development and BondIt (with sister company Buffalo8 Productions) offer guidance and resources throughout the project’s production. Previous ScreenCraft Fund recipients include filmmakers Natasja Fourie, Tom Botchii & Sam Kozel and Dani Bailes and Alexis Korycinski, Danny Madden, Chris Osborn, Matthew Thorne, and Farraz Khan.
The deadline for the current cycle of the Short Film Production Fund is June 30th, 2018.