The Noble Half

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: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production


Three trans women in Pakistan build a thriving community running a canteen for an arts university, but face challenges when the canteen is shut down.


Three Pakistani trans women have built and fostered a thriving community running a cafeteria for an arts school outside Islamabad. But when the cafeteria is forced to close, they set out to rebuild their lives, find security, and search for love while reckoning with their past and present in a country with a complex and unexplored relationship to the 'third gender’.


My work is often centered around identity, how it’s shaped, suppressed, and how we negotiate it in our interaction with others. When you first start learning who you are, you’re also compete with an outside narrative of who people want you to be. For me the strongest message I received about who I was, was from my family. My mother and my grandmothers’ always had an opinion. I should play more girly sports, I should wear my hair short, or no it's too long. I have a distinct memory of being called a mai munda - which roughly translates to "girlboy" - by my mother and her friends. I would laugh it off, but it had a lasting impact on how I viewed myself. The onslaught of opinions and expectations that were hurled at me became more pervasive after my sister was born. I was now setting an example for the child younger than me so I had to make sure I was perfect. When before I could simply laugh it off, I now had to toe the line of expectations vs desire more cautiously. My own expression of myself quieted to the point where I no longer understood who I was outside the context of how people wanted me to be. I care about telling Bubbli, Eshaa, and Sharmeeli's stories because I want to create a space where their stories exist beyond their gender expression and are about their individuality, their womanhood, their quirks, desires, and how they want to live outside the constructs that society has unfairly placed on them for belonging to a community that is perceived a certain way.


Khaula Malik - Director
Khaula Malik is a Pakistani-American filmmaker based in New York City. Her short film, "How The Air Feels,” won the National Board of Review Student Filmmaker Award and premiered at AFI Docs in 2017. She was also awarded the 2017 BAFTA NY John Grist Scholarship. She was a recent participant in the Hot Springs Emerging Filmmakers Lab for her upcoming feature documentary The Noble Half. Khaula holds an MFA in Film and currently teaches at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema.


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