Darling | SXSW 2020 | TIFF | Venice Film Festival

A trans girl longs for spotlight in one of Pakistan's erotic dance theatre.
by Saim Sadiq
16 Min / Pakistan

Award WinningDrama


As a new show is introduced at an erotic dance theatre in Lahore, a sacrificial goat goes missing, a dreamy trans girl desperately tries to become a star and a naive young boy falls in love.

Pegged as a the first Pakistani queer film, Darling is a tenderly crafted romance, as well as a story of  erasure.  It is a commentary on our societal penchant for ‘categorisation’ and the bodies that bear its cost.

The film follows the journey of the two friends as they attempt to land Alina, an ambitious and vivacious trans woman, the spot of lead dancer for an erotic dance show that the boy is also a part of.

The crux of the story is perhaps best encapsulated in the words of the lead actress, Alina Khan, a trans woman who describes her personal struggle in the industry, “I’ve always wanted to act in movies, since I was a child. But then I’d ask myself, how are they going to cast me? As a man, or a woman?”

Director Saim Sadiq informs that he went through an extensive exercise to cast a real trans woman, Alina and she turned out to be a firecracker. Alina made the character her own and brought nuances from her personal experiences.

Darling is the winner of the best short film award at the Venice International Film Festival, the first Pakistani Film to win an award at the prestigious film festival. 

It was also selected in TIFF and SXSW 2020.