Topographies of Occupation


In the framework of our 11-days-long programme LET'S SIT DOWN TOGETHER AND TALK ABOUT A LITTLE CULTURE, we cordially invite you to join us for TOPOGRAPHIES OF OCCUPATION, a selection of films curated by our team and hosted in collaboration with Critical Pakistan. 

The evening’s cinematic works zoom in and out of landscapes affected by occupation and militarisation, connecting, as Moonis Ahmad’s film suggests, “distant singularities.” The social unit of the family waiting out an aerial bombing in a darkened room is juxtaposed here with an interrogation of spatial and temporal “scapes” through the lens of the colonised, gesturing towards a continuum of experience; Kashmir, Syria, and Pakistan are not so “distant” after all. Absence and grief are at the centre of these films, around which each filmmaker conjures a distinct visual language.

We will watch together: 

By Roshaan Khattak, 2022, 24 mins, English, Pakistan
The State of Dissent is the story of the filmmaker’s two activist friends who ran a famous blog known for satire of the powerful Pakistani military. One day they were illegally disappeared and brutally tortured by the army in a bid to silence them. The film goes into rare details of what it was like inside Pakistan's notorious and secret torture cells, how the two bounced back and now continue their defiant activism in exile while being exposed to assassination attempts and death threats even abroad. The story then takes a personal turn as the filmmaker’s cousin, a renowned human rights defender, goes missing at the hands of the military. His teenage daughter starts an international campaign for his release. The State of Dissent examines what makes such dissidents put their lives at risk, their personal struggles and the massive price they pay for their ideals.

ROSHAAN KHATTAKis a human rights activist from Pakistan currently in exile in the UK. His focus has been exposing extrajudicial torture and killings by the Pakistani military (the world's sixth biggest nuclear-armed army) of activists, journalists and dissidents.


By Rand Abou Fakher, 2020, 15 mins, Arabic w/ English subtitles, Belgium 
A family in a living room, shot in one take. The blackout curtains are drawn. Everyone tries to keep calm and go about their usual business while outside, bombs are falling. But everyone’s nerves are on edge. Everyday life in a permanent state of emergency.

RAND ABOU FAKHERwas born in Syria in 1995, she has lived in Brussels since 2015. In Syria, she studied as a flautist at the Conservatory but she went on to discover Brussels through the lens of her camera. Her first short film Braided Love was mentored by the Hungarian film director Béla Tarr and premiered at the 2018 Sarajevo Film Festival. Her film So We Live was screened at the Berlinale in 2020. 

Echographies of the Invisible
By Moonis Ahmad, 2023, 11 mins, English, Kashmir
An 11-minute video journey of a digital world that shifts, morphs, grows, and de-grows into uncertain futures. The world comprises point clouds and photogrammetry scans of unnamed bridges, underwater ecologies, rocks, and places from various contested and colonized territories from around the world. The film incorporates spoken text and sounds to create a time-scape that addresses non-chronological and inter-referential articulations of time, for example, by employing rocks rather than clocks as measures of time. The work also speculates the undying lives of the dead and the deceased in the occupied territories to address the contingent understanding of life and death at marginalities.

Moonis Ahmad is a visual artist, born in Kashmir, whose practice transverses various media, including installation, sculpture, computer programming, sound, and video. His work conjures the afterlives of the dead and the deceased as a means to speculate the emergence of counter-worlds that challenge established states of power at the margins. Moonis completed his doctoral research at the University of Melbourne in 2021. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, among others at the Fiona and Sidney Myer Gallery (Melbourne, Australia), Vadhera Contemporary (New Delhi, India) and the Auckland Art Fair (New Zealand). Currently, Moonis is a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude and works between Stuttgart, Kashmir and Melbourne.