SLACKISTANJune 02, 2011



On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: SLACKISTAN (FilmBuff).



By Sky McCarthy

Few films coming from the Middle East focus on the inner turmoil of bored youths. Such a genre is frequently associated with young American directors and writers seeking to capture the backlash of living in a capitalist society with forgone ideals. In a region so mired by political turmoil, it is easy to forget that millions of people in this cultural region are probably living the same boring lives as any suburban American.

SLACKISTAN follows the intermingled stories of five privileged Pakistani teens as they struggle with young adulthood in a society deprived of any opportunity for forward thinking individuals. Instead of dwelling on the political instability, however, director Hammad Khan focuses on the various insecurities faced by his protagonists – ultimately creating a universally relatable story.


Hasan, the story’s leading male, is an aspiring filmmaker who struggles throughout the film to find an intriguing topic. His difficulty in pinning down a subject matter reflects every character’s inability to succeed at anything post-university while also mirroring the disturbing lack of cinema to come from the Middle East in recent decades. Despite no obvious obscenities (to Western eyes), SLACKISTAN has yet to be released in Pakistan due its use of the word “lesbian” and infrequent, but heavy, drinking.



Perhaps that is what makes SLACKISTAN so interesting to Western audiences – it has received acclaim at numerous stateside film festivals – its appeal lies both in its ability to uncover a relatively clandestine and misunderstood region but once the curtain is pulled away we simply see ourselves.

The main group of friends switch easily between English and Urdu, dress in Westernized clothing and question the existence of a “higher power” – far from any stereotypical veiled Middle Eastern citizen. Any young individual graduating in 2009, 2010 or even today and has faced unemployment in a dog-eat-dog economy can relate to the feelings of uselessness faced by the characters.


Islamabad, the primary setting of the story, is not a typical Middle Eastern city. Indeed the characters lament on the bubble in which they have been placed – being raised in a small Westernized capitol in the middle of a “backwards” and defiantly traditional state.

Ultimately one can not ignore the political ramifications of growing up in a war-torn area and American teens certainly do not face such an external stigma or prejudice when trying to self assert, but SLACKISTAN certainly provides a unique perspective on a topic that apparently crosses all cultures.




- Sky McCarthy

Sky McCarthy is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly and a television enthusiast (ask me about anything!) currently working in entertainment in New York City.


Look for SLACKISTAN (FilmbBuff) under your cable system's Movies On Demand secton.


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