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Lyari Notes

70 min/ India/Pakistan/Documentary with English subtitles

In Pakistan a rock star teaches a group of girls to express themselves through music in Karachi’s most volatile district.

Hamza Jafri travels in an armed vehicle. He is a musician famous for his hard hitting political lyrics since the 1990s. Since then religious fundamentalism has been on the rise with shops selling music torched, concerts bombed and musicians threatened with death. Seeing the shrinking space for music and artists Hamza opens a music school.
Captured over 3 years Lyari Notes is the narrative of four young girls who attend Hamza’s music school and learn what it takes to express oneself despite the cycles of violence.

Supported by Idfa-Bertha Fund
Supported by CBA Worldview
Selected for the IDFA Summer School
Winner of `best documentary project’ – Docedge, Asian pitch
Selected for the Sheffield International Meet Market 2015
Crowd funded by over 100 contributors worldwide and Cinecrowd

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(Miriam Chandy Menacherry (Producer/Co Director from India) – Founder, Director at Filament Pictures a Mumbai based production house. She has pitched and produced award winning films that have been broadcast on international channels like the National Geographic channel, BBC world and Arte. Her last documentary The Rat Raceweaves together the narratives of rat killers in Mumbai. It won the Mipdoc Co production Challenge at Cannes, premiered at IDFA and won the audience awards at Florence and Kerala. It is one of the rare documentaries to get theatrical releases in 3 Indian cities winning critical and popular acclaim.
Maheen Zia (Director and Co producer from Pakistan) – Pakistani film director and editor. She has a degree in radio/tv production from Drake University USA and teaches at the Department of visual studies Karachi University. She is one of the founding members of Pakistan’s young international film festival – The Kara Film Festival and has served as a juror at international film festivals in Tehran, Tampere, Hyderabad and Kabul. She is the winner of the India EU Film initiative- Berlin Today Award- for her film `Match Factor’.
Iikka Vehkalahti (executive producer from Finland) – has been involved in supporting numerous internationally well-known documentaries like The Act of Killing, Armadillo, ¡Vivan Las Antipodas! and Five Broken Cameras. He has also been a co producer of several award winning documentaries from Asia including Lakshmi and Me (India), Who will be a Gurkha (Nepal)

In the Press


Aqsa is afraid of the dark. She is terrified of loud noises. She is 11 years old and dreams she will one day become President of Pakistan.
She lives in Karachi’s most volatile district Lyari along with her 3 best friends Mehroz, Sherbano and Javeria. The walls of their homes are pock market with bullet holes and political graffiti. Once a week a van takes them past the walls of Lyari and into the heart of the city to a school for music run by Pakistani rockstar Hamza Jafri.
Lyari Notes is a coming of age film that unfolds during a dramatic timespan 2012-2015 in Pakistan. The exuberance of the general elections which saw an elected government come to power followed by subsequent extremist attacks … These events are documented and interpreted through the eyes of children growing up in Lyari.
The film reaches it’s most dramatic point when in 2014 Malala , a  young Pakistani girl wins the Nobel Peace Prize for defying the Taliban to go to school and a few weeks later 130 children are gunned down by the Taliban in Peshawar…these made world headlines but Lyari Notes captures these events through the observational narrative of four young girls who are living the reality of a country being torn apart by different forces. They try to comprehend and come to terms with violence through their friendships, school interactions and their weekly music class…
Lyari Notes is an intimate journey of four best friends as they learn to express themselves through music. Throughout the film we see the girls transform as they learn to express themselves overcoming personal tragedy and deep rooted fears and family opposition. Amidst violence and nation wide curfews because of extremist attacks, the girls travel to their classes at MAD school as they prepare for a grand show.
Through the lives of Hamza Jafri and his students, Lyari Notes provides an insight in to just what it takes to have a voice in a country where self expression and music is often drowned out by cycles of violence….

Filmed over three years the personal narratives weave between political events in Pakistan. The general elections, Malala the Pakistani girl who won the Nobel peace prize (2014) to the attack of school children in Peshawar, Lyari Notes addresses each of these events through the eyes and experiences of the principal characters to paint intensely intimate portraits of girls coming of age in a country battling with itself.
A poignant and timeless journey of self-expression unfolding at a defining point in Pakistan’s history and at a time Muslim extremism and attacks on expression dominate world headlines.
Lyari Notes was one of the 16 projects selected for the IDFAcademy Summer School 2013. This was the first time that Maheen and Miriam met in person in Amsterdam even though they had been working on the concept of the film together over internet, skype and every new technology that helps them overcome a hostile border that separates their two countries. What keeps them going is the belief that this film is about music that transcends boundaries creating a new and refreshing dialogue. Maheen shoots in Karachi (Pakistan) and Miriam edits reams of rushes in Mumbai (India). At the Summer School they found a mentor and kindred spirit in Iikka Vehkalahti who helped the two find a common direction in the film project and who continues to guide them from Finland. Lyari Notes is a project about melting boundaries…in spirit as well as how the film is being made.
The film went through a crowd funding phase in Decemeber-Jan 2015 and has close to 1000 followers on Facebook and over 100 contributors from across the world. The events that have unfolded over the last year, brutal attacks in Pakistan, France and Denmark have a resonance with the film and we believe Lyari Notes will be an important film that addresses these attacks on expression and on liberalism through very personal journeys…

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