Zahrah Ehsan is primarily a visual artist; painter, art instructor and now a filmmaker from Lahore, Pakistan, and currently based in Finland. After completing a degree in Master of Arts in Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Arts from Aalto University, Finland in 2020, she participated in the Academy of Moving People and Images for a 1.5 year long filmmaking program. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts with Honours in 2012, with a concentration in painting from the National College of Arts, Pakistan. Ehsan's practice is deeply experimental including scavenged materials from industry, popular culture, and utility incorporating it into my paintings and films; moving images/video-art, which is mostly a critique on the notions of gender, adaptation and identity, mental health, and everyday labour.
Films shown in Divvy Film Festival 2023
Footnotes on an Arranged Meeting, 2023, Zahra Ehsan
The two characters’ (Daneen and Ifran) are set up by their families in Pakistan, to meet each other as they are living in the same city, Helsinki. According to their families, Ifran and Daneen are each other's potential suitors. The protagonist, Daneen questions the concept of matchmaking and mentally taxing expectations from society to fit a certain mould and to “settle down" after a certain age. For many people, it may seem like a natural need to have a companion; a life partner at some point in their lives, Daneen finds it difficult to know what she wants when she is faced with such arranged meetings by families. The dilemma of meeting the right person for herself continues when she goes out on dates of her choice. The film takes place in a cafe and shows one arranged meeting, where the protagonist takes the audience to different times and places as the conversation with Ifran progresses. The film with its comic buildup and relief aims to address arranged meetings for possible arranged marriages. It taps into not only the quirks and dilemmas played out by the characters, but also allows the protagonist to confide in her audience so she does not have to navigate through this nerve-racking and awkward situation alone.