Scandinavian Film Fest: "What Will People Say" Is a heartbreaking depiction of an even more heartbreaking truth
Volvo’s 2018 Scandinavian film Festival has returned in full swing, armed with some of Europe’s best films. Each year the festival calls for a cinematic celebration of superb films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.
Starting off in an extremely strong way is What Will People Say (Hva Vil Folk Si). Directed by Iram Haq, the jaw-droppingly sad picture that is helmed by the semi-autobiographical tale of Haq, tells the story of Nisha, a young girl exiled by her parents to remote Pakistan.
We as an audience are taken through the double life of school girl Nisha as we see her sneak in and out between her conservative Pakistani home and her European classmates. Nisha’s world comes crumbling down however when her secrets are quickly found out by her strict father. Sent in shame to live with her aunt and uncle, we see her life once again crumble around her as she struggles with adhering to her families’ high standards and experiencing a typical, teenage life.
The winner of the AFI Fest 2017 Audience Award, What Will People Say is as much about maintaining a positive reputation in the public eye as it is about complex family relations. The excellent father character, played by a sensationally strong Adil Hussain, shows a painfully real look on a father and daughter relationship that goes beyond what is usually shown. Brutal and slightly breath-taking at times, Nisha and her father showcase the struggle that is balancing traditional culture in a new, foreign setting.
Nisha’s mother is a wonderful portrayal of the importance of reputation in Pakistani culture, as we see her struggle to come to terms with Nisha’s shame, while Nisha herself is an inspiring young woman who shows resilience and determination that keeps this story alive.
Beautifully directed by Haq, the creator behind the outstanding I am Yours (2013), What Will People Say features a raw level of empathy that her feature debut lacked. Shot mostly in Rajathsan, India, the film is undeniably beautiful, using the two polar opposite landscapes of Pakistan and Oslow to explore the complexities of the stories. Issues with slightly rushed pace and lack of plot are slight hindrances when watching this all but great film. But Haq’s directing and her excellent cast all but make up for it.
A heartbreaking and intense tale of the extremes of culture, What Will People Say is an honest recount of the realities many Pakistani women face within their lives.
Make sure you catch it at Cinema Paradiso from the 21st of July to the 28th!