Cannes Directors’ Fortnight selection, In Flames – a Pakistani-Canadian horror film directed by Zarrar Kahn – had its world premiere at the prestigious film festival on Friday. The movie is set to screen at Cannes till May 27. According to Variety, it is the first Pakistan-set film in Directors’ Fortnight since Jamil Dehlavi’s the Blood of Hussain in 1980. Produced by Anam Abbas and executive produced by Shant Joshi, Todd Brown and Maxime Cottray, In Flames is part of XYZ’s New Visions slate. The women-centred film stars actors Rameesha Nawal, Bakhtawar Mazhar, Adnan Shah Tipu and Omair Javaid. The cast of in Flames graced the Cannes red carpet on Friday, all decked up for its world premiere. They clicked photos, embraced each other and expressed their joy to be a part of the event. Tipu was spotted expressing his gratitude with a hand gesture inside the auditorium where the screening took place. The rest of the cast shared selfies and red-carpet photos on their Insta Stories. The film even received a standing ovation at Cannes, as shared by the makers on its official Insta handle. In Flames is a gripping tale revolving around a mother and daughter whose lives are upended by the resurgence of individuals from their past-both real and supernatural. Their tenuous existence becomes imperilled, and their only hope lies in finding strength within their bond to overcome the menacing forces that threaten to engulf them. This horror film explores themes of women’s rights while defying patriarchal norms. Based on Kahn’s earlier short films, Dia and Pak, In Flames was intended to be a drama about a young woman and her secret boyfriend. But the concept evolved into a thrilling narrative. The director, who is based in Canada but was born and raised in Karachi, shared with Variety, “The themes were becoming also more relevant to what is happening in Pakistan at this time, around the conversation of women’s rights, property rights-a lot of these time optics are really in flux and in conflict right now, and those themes were also becoming more violent. So, it was really feeling not only is this the film that I could make, this is also the film that needs to be made.” Kahn believes that in Flames serves as a vital cinematic contribution to the ongoing global discussion on women’s rights, extending beyond Pakistan and South Asia. He emphasised, “It’s happening all over the world right now-look at the US where rights are being rolled back. Look at Iran. It’s a global conversation. It definitely feels like the world is in flux in a lot of ways. My hope for the film worldwide is, I hope we get reactions.” The director also expressed his desire for the film to be experienced in theatres, highlighting the power of shared emotions and the impact of witnessing the characters’ journey alongside fellow moviegoers. He remarked, “There’s something about that shared experience of coming out of this journey of the characters…and experiencing it with them in that communal space. And then leaving the theatre and carrying that story with you.” In Flames not only aims to strike a blow against patriarchy but also serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of women. Anam Abbas, the film’s producer, is one of the founders of the Aurat March movement in Pakistan. Kahn believes that the film will provide activists with the inspiration to continue their progress, emphasising that the conversation surrounding women’s rights transcending geographical boundaries. As Pakistani cinema experiences a renaissance, with films like Joyland making appearances at Cannes and The Legend of Maula Jatt achieving unprecedented box office success, Kahn underscores the importance of establishing a sustainable film industry in Pakistan. He highlights the absence of a dedicated film organization or legislation to support and promote the country’s cinema.