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Film Review: "A Thin Wall"

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In her lyrically non-linear documentary "A Thin Wall," local filmmaker Mara Ahmed focuses on the lingering effects of the partitioning of India in 1947. Filmed on each side of the border -- in both India and Pakistan -- the deeply personal production allows Ahmed and co-producer SurbhiDewan to examine their individual histories, assembling the recollections of family members and close friends, along with on-the-street conversations with citizens of both countries. What emerges is a complicated portrait of a people torn apart by arbitrary lines and still feeling the effects of the deaths, displacement, and mass migration that resulted.

We hear from each family as they share stories of their lives before and after the division, explaining the devastating effect it had on their loved ones and the culture at large. By focusing on these personal narratives, Ahmed creates a powerful and intimate account of history. "A Thin Wall" mixes in art, animation, music, and literary writing -- including pieces by British poet John Siddique, Pakistani writer Uzma Aslam Khan, and Indian historian Urvashi Butalia -- weaving together a rich tapestry of history, memory, and loss, while imploring us to retain the lessons taught to us by the past.

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