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    Against the Grain

    Directed by



    104 min

    • English
    • Urdu


    Fatima, a committed schoolteacher living the cosmopolitan high life in Karachi, is devastated when her nanny, Nusrat, inexplicably disappears. Though her friends and family beg her not to disturb the status quo and confront the powerful feudals in Nusrat's village, Fatima travels there to investigate. Will the trials and tribulations deter Fatima's resolve? Will the quest challenge an already complicated romantic relationship? What all shall Fatima have to sacrifice in the search for answers?
    JOSH (English Title: AGAINST THE GRAIN) is the story of a privileged woman whose life is shattered in a single moment. It is the story of a woman in search for a dangerous truth. It is the story of the biggest challenge to Pakistan's still reigning feudalism: the country's youth. The film explores the internal debates the young are struggling with, and how solutions can be attainable if and when they stand united.



    Mohib Mirza
    Adnan Shah
    Salim Mairaj
    Nausheen Dadabhoy
    Jochen Kunstler
    Shahi Hasan
    Andrew T. Mackay

    Director's Statement

    Being Pakistani, a woman and a filmmaker puts me in shoes that have rarely been worn before, making everything a new challenge. I bring a fresh perspective, and there is intense curiosity around my origin, my faith, my gender and how I see the world. In the filmmaking world, it is both a blessing and a curse to be of my demographic. I choose to see the blessing. Josh is about class separation, education, women’s rights, feudalism and the youth movement. Josh is a story of what happens when you find your world turned upside down and you want to take control of your life again. What happens when you want your life to be much bigger than yourself and about others. It is a story of hope, of trying, of redemption. It is a story of the youth, of Pakistan, of the pain, the pleasure and the spirit of unity and independence. Ultimately, if I were to pick one thing, it is about "never giving up". JOSH is inspired by Parveen Saeed’s Khana Ghar ( and her concept of “erase hunger to erase crime” by setting up affordable meals in and around Karachi’s slums. The film is also a tribute to all the innocent victims of retribution crime in feudal Pakistan. JOSH provides insight and stimulates dialogue that can lead to positive change. A lot of the world is curious about Pakistan. It is a country frequently in the news for the wrong reasons, but there are a lot of right reasons as well. These right reasons and people need to be focused on, to create a holistic view of the country and its people, the sixth most populous country in the world. With constant state travel warnings being issued every month, I want to bring Pakistan to the world if outsiders cannot easily go to Pakistan.



    Iram Parveen Bilal

    Iram Parveen Bilal


    Exploring the complex human characters by putting myself in their shoes, helps me better understand our world. Filmmaking reminds me of how connected we are.

    Raised in Nigeria and Pakistan, Bilal is a Physics Olympian turned filmmaker. She just directed her 7th film, EXTINCTION, a dystopian future where the #MuslimBan is taken to its extreme. Next, FORBIDDEN STEPS, a film about Islamophobia and Dance, is scheduled for filming in Fall 2017 in Los Angeles and Chicago. Bilal initiated the Pakistani Oscar committee and is the founder of Pakistan’s first professional screenwriting lab (QALAMBAAZ).

    Selected Filmography