Dinner With The President: A Nation’s Journey

Film only partly explores the pressing questions regarding Pakistan's future and the prospect of current unelected President Pervez Musharraf.

With:
With: Sabiha Sumar, Pervez Musharraf. Narrator: Sabiha Sumar.

As timely as the slap of the morning paper on the porch, Sabiha Sumar and Sachithanandam Sathananthan’s “Dinner with the President: A Nation’s Journey” only partly explores the pressing questions regarding Pakistan’s future and the prospect of current unelected President Pervez Musharraf. Flawed but most telling for Western viewers as a specifically Pakistani view of Musharraf’s political dilemmas and the nature of his support and opposition, hourlong doc should be rapidly snatched by North American and Euro news cablers, while Musharraf is in a potential power-sharing deal with former prez Benazir Bhutto.

Pic was made prior to Bhutto’s touted re-emergence, but is told from narrator Sumar’s personal and feminist p.o.v., which gives equal or more weight to women’s rights than to matters of quelling Islamist terrorists in the nation’s western frontier. Including a pleasant though unrevealing dinner session with Musharraf, Sumar mixes with young hipsters and old fundamentalists to draw picture of a country riven by huge ideological, cultural and gender divisions. Many agree, though, that Musharraf’s brand of “democracy” is better than that of previous regimes, including Nawaz Sharif’s, toppled in Musharraf’s 1999 coup.

Dinner With The President: A Nation's Journey

Pakistan

Production: A Vidhi Films presentation in association with ITVS Intl./ZDF/Arte. (International sales: Steps Intl., Copenhagen.) Produced by Sachithanandam Sathananthan. Executive producer, Sally Jo Fifer. Directed by Sabiha Sumar, Sachithanandam Sathananthan.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, DV), Claire Pijman, Peter Brugman; editors, Albert Elings, Eugenie Jansen, Calle Overweg. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 13, 2007. English, Urdu dialogue. Running time: 58 MIN.

With: With: Sabiha Sumar, Pervez Musharraf. Narrator: Sabiha Sumar.

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