THE LONG WALK
FOR A RISING SINDH
When the pandemic began, married Sindhi-American activists Fati Gul and Sufi Laghari found themselves locked down in their Washington D.C. apartment, grieving for their homeland - the Sindh province of present-day Pakistan, more than 7,000 miles away. For the indigenous people of Sindh, the pandemic exacerbated already dire living conditions and provided cover for the escalation of state-sponsored human rights violations that Fati and Sufi have dedicated their lives and careers to end. For 14 and 40 years, respectively, they have been unable to return home or visit their family members, lest they risk joining thousands of Sindhis as victims of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance or torture - in Sufi’s case, again. Leaving behind a meaningful legacy to build a better future for all Sindhis is all that Fati and Sufi have. Reminded of their mortality amidst a pandemic, and upon learning about the suspicious deaths of Sindhi and Baloch human rights activists outside of Pakistan, the activist team of two began to organize their biggest action yet.
THE LONG WALK follows Fati and Sufi as they walk 350-miles from New York City to Washington D.C., hosting rallies, visiting politicians, and raising awareness for the Sindhi cause via social media. Along the way, they face struggles they have confronted for years, including lack of participation from the broader Sindhi diaspora and disinterest from the media, along with new tragedies they are forced to confront while on the road. Through these experiences, viewers learn about the sacrifices the two have made to do this work, about the weight of that sacrifice on a marriage and on one’s mental health, and about the work itself.
As we walk with Fati and Sufi to Washington, D.C., viewers unravel the excruciating arc of both of our characters’ lives and their determined pursuit of justice. As a young man, Sufi fled Pakistan and sought asylum in the United States after being abducted and tortured by authorities. Many years later, Fati sacrificed her ability to go back to Sindh by choosing to join Sufi in his cause, a decision that she has questioned at times prompted by the unresolved and violent deaths of family members, believed to be linked to the couple’s work. This decision comes into sharp focus during the walk when she hears tragic news from home, and tensions rise between her and Sufi as it becomes clear they process grief in different ways. Meanwhile, Fati explores how to step out of the shadow of Sufi - 18 years her senior. Convinced that the movement has been hindered because it is tied to the strategy of an older generation, she becomes increasingly determined to breathe new life into the movement and leave a legacy for future generations to follow.
The film asks: What are the limits of sacrifice? How far are you willing to go for a cause you believe in?
“You protect your nuclear family and then you ignore what is happening to the millions… or you make a choice: to risk the lives of the most precious people to you, but then you might be able to give voice to millions.” – Fatima Gul