Jawad Sharif

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Jawad Sharif
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Jawad at the Dubai International Film Festival in March 2018
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
  • Filmmaker
  • producer
  • activist
Years active2006-present
Known forIndus Blues

Jawad Sharif is a Pakistani filmmaker, producer, and activist, who directed the award-winning documentary film Indus Blues (2018).[1] The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Guam International Film Festival in the United States.[2] At the 11th Jaipur International Film Festival, it was declared the Best Documentary Feature and also bagged the award for Best Cinematography.[3] He is also the producer, cinematographer, and editor of the award-winning documentary film K2 & the Invisible Footmen (2015). The film won over 37 awards in several categories.[4]

Sharif was born in Rawalpindi. He was awarded a scholarship at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 2016. He is a TED fellow and represented Pakistan as a filmmaker in Vancouver, Canada in 2022 for a TED talk.[5] He has received HBL PSL Hamaray Heroes Award, 2022.[6]

Sharif also directed Natari (2021), The Color of Smog (2022), and Beyond the Heights (2015). Natari was part of the official selection of the Climate Crisis Film Festival 2021, which was held in line with the COP26 in Glasgow, UK.[7]

Early Life

Jawad Sharif was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He completed his degree in computer science before venturing into filmmaking. He started his career as a commercial television director and transitioned to documentary filmmaking in 2012.[8] He went to UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 2016 on a scholarship.[9]

Career and international recognition

He directed documentary film Beyond the Heights (2015) which is about a young Pakistani Mountaineer Samina Baig, who became the first ever Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest at the age of 22.[10]

He is also the producer, cinematographer and editor of the award-winning feature documentary K2 and the Invisible Footmen (2015). The film is about the lives and efforts of Pakistani porters, who for decades have facilitated mountaineers from around the world to the ascent of K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. Sharif spent nearly a year-and-a-half editing the film. The film is dedicated to Amir Mehdi, the high-altitude porter who lost his toes to frostbite in the first ascent to K2 in 1954.[11] He won Best Cinematography and Best Sound and Editing Award at Jaipur International Film Festival, 2016.[12]

Sharif produced and direct Indus Blues in 2018. It is a feature documentary film that captures the plight of folk artists and their struggles to keep the fading art forms and the dying indigenous musical instruments alive. Sharif conceived the idea of the film when he came across a video clip in which some instruments were being burned. The film created waves in local and international media and initiated the much-needed debate about the radicalization of society in Pakistan.[citation needed] The film features 11 endangered musical instruments and their craftsmen from Pakistan. Artists in the film include Nighat Chaudhry, Saif Samejo of The Sketches, Mai Dhai and Arieb Azhar, a creative producer of the film. Sharif continued his efforts for the revival of folk musical instruments and support for musicians even after the release of the film by organizing screening events for policymakers and influencers.[13] Some of the artists featured in the film performed in the popular music television franchise Coke Studio in Pakistan. Indus Blues bagged several national and international awards and has successfully brought the artists and their instruments into the mainstream through its screenings around the world.[14]

Sharif is an advocate of free speech. He has talked several times in his interviews about the scope of independent documentary projects in Pakistan.[15][16][17]

In 2019, he founded his film production company Jawad Sharif Films. He has directed and produced the documentary film Natari (2021) which revolves around the issue of climate migration in the shrinking Kharo Chan Island in the Indus Delta.[18] The story of climate migrants in Natari gives hope as it raises awareness about their struggle for survival in the face of climate change and urge policymakers to step up efforts to save the stranded fishermen communities on Indus Delta.[19][20]

In 2021, he directed The Color of Smog (2021) which raises awareness about the issue of smog in Lahore. In the film, sixteen artists came together to exhibit and talk about their art inspired by smog. The film was preceded by an exhibition titled The Smog Show.[21] The Smog Show held at the Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, explored the issue of smog in Lahore in the most creatively diverse ways.[22]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
2015 Pakistan International Mountain Film Festival Audience Award K2 & the Invisible Footmen Won
BBVA Mountain Film Festival Jury Prize Won
Rio Mountain Festival Best Film Won
Salento International Film Festival Best Documentary Won
2016 Jaipur International Film Festival Best Cinematography Award and Best Sound & Editing Award Won
Pakistan Calling Film Festival Best International Film Won
2018 Guam International Film Festival Crystal Award Best Feature Documentary Indus Blues Won
Spotlight Documentary Film Awards Gold Award Won
Top Indie Awards Best Documentary Won
Regina Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Nominated
South Film & Arts Academy Festival Best Documentary Feature Won
2019 Jaipur International Film Festival Best Feature Documentary & Best Cinematography Award Won


  • Alumnus of Swedish Institute and Institut Fur Auslandsbeziehunge, Germany[23]
  • Jury of the Jaipur Library Academy Awards, India[24]


  1. Ahmad, Omair. "'Indus Blues' Documents Musical Traditions Dying out in Pakistan". The Wire. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  2. Siddique, Qurat ul ain (6 October 2018). "Pakistani film Indus Blues wins Best Documentary Feature at Guam International Film Festival". DAWN. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  3. Baloch, Sahar (25 January 2019). "Pakistani documentary Indus Blues won two awards in India". BBC. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  4. "K2 and the Invisible Footmen". Journeyman.
  5. "TED Fellows 2022". TED.
  6. "Fans to nominate Hamaray Heroes for HBL PSL 7". PCB. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  7. "Stories from the Frontlines". Climate Crisis.
  8. Ahmed, Maheen. "Singing the Indus Blues: Meeting Documentary Filmmaker Jawad Sharif". Kluchit. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  9. "Jawad Sharif". dafilms.
  10. "Effort to give equal rights to Pakistani Women". BBC News. 19 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  11. Imran, Mashal. "Khayaal Festival Day 2 - A New Era of Filmmaking in Pakistan". Youlin Magazine. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  12. Rafi, Haneen (7 January 2016). "This documentary shines the spotlight on K2 porters". DAWN. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  13. "Award-winning Pakistani documentary 'Indus Blues' screened at PNCA". Daily Times. 15 June 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  14. Kamal, Maahir (15 October 2018). "The trailer of Jawad Sharif's stunning feature film "Indus Blues" is all over online with 50 million cumulative reach". APD Prime. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  15. "Jawad Sharif on scope of independent projects in Pakistan". The News.
  17. Nazir, Zoya (7 May 2018). "Five Questions with filmmaker". Nation. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  18. "Don't Look Up". The News. 2 January 2022. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  19. Hayat, Sara. "Pakistan's policymakers must address climate migration". Climate Diplomacy. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  20. "IBA holds moot on climate change threats". Tribune. 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  21. Aslam, Irfan (2 December 2021). "16 artists paint a bleak picture of smog". DAWN. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  22. Munawwar, Saima. "Through the smog". The News. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  23. "2016 Swedish Institute leadership programme for young Southasians". Nordicsouthasia.
  24. "JURY MEMBERS" (PDF). worldslargestfilmlibrary.

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