Pakistan is a country that so many have heard about, or read about, or seen on the news, and the impression here in the West is that it’s of some kind of hellhole where the people are religious fanatics and the government is evil. It’s been called the most dangerous country in the world, what with all the bombings, Taliban activity and American drone strikes.
Without Shepherds, the new documentary from director Cary McClelland, attempts to inform Westerners’ understanding and misconceptions of Pakistan. It follows six people —ranging from a truck driver, to a religious singer, to a cricketer-turned-political-activist, to a supermodel—and depicts their lives and connection to their homeland.
Nobody in the film is particularly happy with the status quo. They all recognize the deep problems facing the country, but they all dream of something better, and in the meantime they go about their lives, not unlike anybody else in any other country. Without Shepherds isn’t an overtly activist film. It has no specific cause to announce, but in depicting an oft-misunderstood country through the eyes of its citizens, the film reaches for a broader education in what Pakistan is and what it means. At this, no question, it succeeds. With beautiful photography and a generally reflective tone, Without Shepherds sets aside formal ambition for straightforward empathy, and most audiences are likely to come away feeling that much closer in spirit to the people of Pakistan. (Corey Atad)