Filmi 21! Virtual Edition
Filmi Toronto’s South Asian Film Festival Celebrating 21 Years!
December 27th, 2020
21st Filmi: Toronto’s South Asian film festival
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Muhammad Muneeb Khan, a survivor of the 2014 Army Public School Massacre, lost his only brother in the heinous attack. “The Survivor,” a short documentary, follows Muneeb’s inner turmoil, fears, and his individual growth through the post-attack trauma. The documentary is in the form of a personal statement to college.
Danial graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Oregon USA with a degree in Rhetoric & Media Studies. He started his media career with internships at Fox News and ABC. Danial returned to Pakistan in 2014 and joined PTV World as a Sports Anchor during which he hosted a show on the FIFA 2014 World Cup. In July he landed the role as anchor of the full fledged show The Young World, which covers youth-related issues in Pakistan. Starting 2015, he’s been dedicating all his time in touching social issues of Pakistan and the Middle East through his short films
“The Army Public School Massacre of 2014 shook the world. Personally, the year itself was very eventful and interesting for me. I left my well-paid job at AT&T in Chicago, Illinois, and moved home to Pakistan to pursue a career in film production. I joined Pakistan Television Network as a sports anchor and earned an opportunity to cover the Peshawar attack for a show I helped host called: The Young World. I had been hearing about terrorism in Pakistan since I was four years old, but the attacks had never really made an impact on me, until I watched the families of the deceased mourn. After seeing their sadness, I felt moved for the first time, and slightly ashamed that I had not been more sympathetic towards my own people for the greater part of my life. After that attack, I changed my focus to research; I gathered information and built stories for the media, which I centered around other tragedies and unfortunate incidents in Pakistan.
Two years flew by and our media was still talking about the attack in Peshawar. They were reporting and re-reporting about the ways the rifled terrorists had entered the Army school and shot 144 kids. I was sick and tired of hearing the same news because it would force me to re-visualize the broken hearts of families, the traumatic sounds of people crying, and the mental and physical pain it had caused many of the survivors. As the media in Pakistan does not recognize mental conditions as an actual ailment, I figured it would be up to me to find out how the families were doing after suffering the loss of their children. I pitched my idea to a couple of companies, as well as the army, to help facilitate and realize my vision, but they had instantly refused and deemed my idea a threat to security. They informed me that the kids who survived were not in a state to be asked such questions, and that the media should be not so emotionally connected to the victims, but I knew they were all just making excuses.
I decided to take the whole project upon myself and track down the kids that survived the attack. After talking to multiple people and networking for connections, I got in touch with Muneeb’s sister, Momina Khan. I traveled to Peshawar for a recce and befriended Muneeb, then spent a few days getting to know him. Gradually, he opened up about what had happened to him and his brother, and how his family was taking it. I used a tape recorder during our conversations to better understand his story, and through further analysis, I realized that Muneeb used video games to better deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder. He later divulged that he would like to build his own video game; a game that would teach kids
how to defend themselves against terrorist attacks in Pakistan. That was the point where it all hit me! Muneeb’s admirable dream would be the foundation of a short film I would direct in order to share his story. Through this incident in Muneeb’s life, I would show the people of our country how hard it is to have PTSD.
Today, I am proud to have helped a survivor better deal with his demons and escape the dark confines of his own mind. He continues to apply to visual arts schools nationally and globally. I cannot wait to see him flourish in his personal and professional life, and set an example for other survivors that are unable to move forward. I am so excited for Muneeb’s dream to become a reality!”
Publications on The Survivor:
The News International: https://www.thenews.com.pk/magazine/us/233205-Learning-to-live-again
The Destinations: (November cover)
Lewis & Clark (My alma mater): http://www.lclark.edu/live/news/37350-alumnus-documentary- garners- international- acclaim
Awards & Nominations:
The Survivor (2017)
Chronicles of the Worthless (2018)