Pakistan is omnipresent in global headlines today, usually in the worst possible light. But headlines never tell the whole truth – the reality is complex, contradictory and full of detail.

This film was inspired by curiosity about a country always in the news but hardly known, and by the need to tell its story sincerely and undogmatically.

At least that was the original intention, but the film soon focuses on just one village – Mulhapar. It goes to the heart of humanity in a mixed community of rich and poor, Muslims and Christians, young and old, men and women. MULHAPAR interweaves their family destinies, individual stories and anecdotes into a living mosaic, a coherent film narration – a typical microcosm that perhaps stands for Pakistan, but much more – inch’ Allah! – for humanity itself.

Documentary films in my opinion attempt to fictionalize reality, through moods and atmospheres, through their montage, through an epic tempo. This may result in universality, but only maybe. Adopting a programmatic attitude means subjecting oneself to a dominating theme and losing one’s freedom, just as the film characters do. The characters, whether in a feature film or a documentary, do not have to stand for anything. Nor must they carry the burden of the director’s intentions by serving any particular cause or idea – they simply have to be themselves.

MULHAPAR is not intended merely to open up a foreign land for western viewers. They should ask themselves: isn’t it the same with us as well? And: what will become of Marvi, the madcap, when she is 18? And finally: is this now Pakistan?

If you ask how I got involved in this project, the answer is that it simply happened that way. My previous film THE ITALIAN was set in a pizzeria, and one of the pizzaioli comes from Mulhapar. So he took me to his village.

That is how everything started.