In Flames – Director Zarrar Kahn

Zarrar Kahn’s feature film debut focuses on the lives of Mariam (Ramesha Nawal),  her younger brother Bilal (Jibran Khan) and their mother,  Fariha (Bakhtawar Mazhar) in a tiny apartment in Karachi. When Mariam’s maternal grandfather passes, his brother tries to manipulate them into signing over their apartment to him, a common occurrence in Pakistan, where women’s property rights are fragile. Mariam’s mother, grieving and isolated, is easy to influence. Mariam, distraught by her mother’s foolishness, finds solace in a secret romance with a fellow student, Asad. When their relationship takes an unexpected turn, Mariam becomes consumed by nightmares. Meanwhile, her mother, caught between her coercive Uncle and a murky legal system, is oblivious to her daughter’s deteriorating mental state. Mariam’s nightmares begin to bleed into reality. Mother and daughter must come together if they hope to overcome the real and phantasmal forces that threaten to engulf them. Director and writer Zarrar Kahn joins us for a conversation the inspiration for this layered and multi-genre film, assembling a superb cast of veteran and new actors, the systemic bias and barriers that women struggle to navigate in Pakistani society and the joy of being picked to represent Pakistan for the 2024 Academy Awards© in the Best International Feature Film category.


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More about Zarrar Kahn at CityLightsMediaPro

Pakistan’s Official Entry Best International Films – 2024 Academy Awards
Director’s Fortnight – 2023 Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection – 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Winner of the Golden Yusr Award For Feature Film – 2023 Red Sea Film Festival

About the filmmaker – Zarrar Kahn is an award-winning Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker whose film IN FLAMES premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival as part of the Director’s Fortnight. His works have been screened and awarded in over 100+ film festivals, including TIFF, Locarno, and BFI London. In Flames, his feature directorial debut, has garnered critical acclaim and prizes worldwide – including the Golden Yusr for Best Picture at Red Sea FF and the Grand Prize – International Newcomer Award at Mannheim-Heidelberg FF. Born in Karachi, and currently based out of Toronto, Kahn is committed to telling stories that amplify historically marginalized communities.



93% on RottenTomatoes

“A haunting tale of oppression.”  – Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter

“In Flames finely straddles the line between a bold genre exercise and a bruising portrait of contemporary Pakistan to deliver a welcome story about resistance and resilience.” – Manuel Betancourt, Variety

“It’s a seedy ride through a bleak existence that would be entertaining enough to watch with popcorn if it didn’t depict a life that’s all too real for too many people. – Christian Zilko, indieWire

“The intense craft and torque we saw in Ari Aster’s Hereditary, but with more heart and conviction.” – The Globe and Mail

“In Flames does not let its characters, or audience, rest easy in its earthy, tangible hauntings, ones that spring from the violence barely contained beneath a veneer of politeness and conformity to which only some are truly subject.” – Shelagh Rowan-Legg, ScreenAnarchy

“Writer/director Zarrar Khan uses techniques borrowed from the horror genre to address the experience of living an environment where one is seen as less than fully human, or even as prey.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“The performances are excellent and the script is tight, making full use of every line and every glance. A disconcerting and compelling watch.” – MovieScramble