San Francisco Premiere of the First Pakistani-American Movie
By Ras H. Siddiqui

Dr Hassan Zee and Craig Marker

A Pakistani medical doctor by education with a passion for making films, Director Hassan Zee, started Phenomenon Films in California a couple of years ago. Phenomenon’s first full-length feature film “Night of Henna” is to open in San Francisco during the first week of March, 2005 (see venues and show times below). Hassan, who is an ardent fan of the emerging South Asian independent cinema that has now been hitting the shores of the United States once said that Night of Henna was not unlike the overseas Indian success stories in the US, like “Bend it Like Beckham” and the critically acclaimed “Monsoon Wedding”.

The British-Pakistani family drama “East is East” which conquered many critics in Europe also come to mind now as does “Bride and Prejudice” which is making quite a few headlines here. The movie stars Pooja Kumar as Hava , Suhail Tayeb as Salman, Reef Karim as Baboo and a young actor who is out to make a name for himself from this point onwards, Craig Marker, who plays Justin. The role of the character Zakia is played by Noor Shic, Girja Shankar plays Abdul, along with Azhar Shah as Bashir amongst a host of others. Cinematography is by the Academy Award nominated Hiro Narita. Night of Henna is about women’s rights and choices.

It is the story of a young Pakistani-American girl who has been sent back to Pakistan to live with relatives so that she could have a more traditional upbringing “protected” from western influences. It is about her return to America to attend university, about arranged marriages, and the difficult decisions that are being made for her and by her as reality creeps into her life as a young woman. New Yorker Pooja Kumar (former Miss US-India) has taken on the difficult role of Hava and Craig Marker’s character of Justin offers her much to think about. Like the breeze or wind that translates to “Hava” in the Urdu language, or Adam’s Eve (“Hawwa” in Urdu), this is a movie about a young woman impacted by movement and moments in her life that want to change the status quo.

Cast of the movie

And one should be glad that Dr. Hassan (who is also the film’s writer and producer) did not name his lead female character “Toofan” (storm). But knowing him, that could just be his next project. NIGHT OF HENNA opens on the days and dates below and at the following venues: Thursday, March 3 / 2:00pm & 7:00pm / World Premiere, Night of Henna, San Francisco State University - Jack Adams Hall Followed at 10:00pm by a World Premiere Release Reception at 398 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA *Admittance charge: $20.00 per person (reception only) For tickets to world premiere and/or world premiere reception, contact 1-415-820-3200 ext.200*** Friday, March 4 / First Theatrical Release of Night of Henna at Four Star Theatre COPRESENTED BY FILM ARTS FOUNDATION, 2200 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA *For show times, visit or contact 415-666-3488. For more information, please visit the website the World Wide Web at:


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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