Showgirls of Pakistan

  • Saad Khan
  • Pakistan, United States
  • 2020
  • 106 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for First Appearance

Getting death threats goes with the territory for Afreen, Uzma, and Reema, three dancers from Pakistan’s Punjab province. They’ve got plenty of fans—in the theaters where they perform, as well as online—but the majority of people in Pakistan regard the way they earn a living as disgraceful. The women perform the mujra, a centuries-old dance genre that is considered vulgar nowadays.

Afreen mainly dances in theaters, while Uzma’s manager sends her to perform at private parties in other countries such as Dubai. After a successful career on the stage, Reema, a transgender woman, is finding it increasingly difficult to find work. All three of them are confronted by prejudice, strict censorship, and a deeply misogynistic climate. But that doesn’t stop them from standing up for themselves.

This lively and vibrant documentary packed with personal drama follows the women as they go about their turbulent daily lives, leaving plenty of space for livestreams, telephone conversations, archive footage, and other media. Making this film took quite some doing, not least due to the threats aimed at members of the crew. A tribute to unstoppable go-getters.


  • 106 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Urdu, Punjabi
  • Subtitles in: English
Saad Khan
Executive producer
Anam Abbas for OTHER MEMORY MEDIA, Saad Khan for SAVTA MEDIA LLC, Joey Chriqui for SAVTA MEDIA LLC
Anam Abbas
Joey Chriqui, Saad Khan
Saad Khan

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for First Appearance

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IDFA history

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