In 2020, feminists in Karachi plan a women’s march to mark International Women’s Day. Russian women first ‘celebrated’ that day back in 1917. I bring up the history of that day because of the kind of meetings that This Stained Dawn captures, where the first stage of the planning has a lot to do with pointing out the intersections between class and gender oppression. The first generations of Marxists met in cafes to talk theory. Centuries later, feminists in developing countries are literally having similar conversations. It’s like no progress has happened which, of course, is not the fault of the filmmaker.
Women have always been the forefront of both activism and filmmaking. Maybe it’s my own personal biases or assumptions that men have dominated both. But either way, it’s still refreshing to see feminist documentaries. Here, This Stained Dawn transitions between planning and marching. The film’s climax shows the week before the actual march which the activists celebrate through pre bike rides. Here, it turns the camera to the men. It’s interesting to see men under the female gaze. This time around, this particular gaze sees men with suspicion and fear. It’s a valid ethos that it matches with its tone.
The are areas where This Stained Dawn exposes its flaws. Its third act, particularly, feels like it’s packing a lot of information and rushing its storytelling. There are specific confrontations that it doesn’t explain. For example one of the Aurat March’s organizers have to make a nuanced argument for the women counter protesting them. Meanwhile, she also confronts that protester. The counters are bringing to light an issue about a female political prisoner. The film doesn’t explain why that issue isn’t a part of Pakistan’s feminist umbrella. But for the most part, the film balances the issues it covers.
Buy tickets to This Stained Dawn here.
- Release Date: 11/10/2021