Arafat Mazhar

Arafat Mazhar is a director and writer, known for Swipe (2020) and City of Smiles (2020).

Dust Films


Q & A

If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?

The world of Shehr e Tabassum is a dizzying, stifling, hyper-surveillant, neon nightmare. It is very much a world drenched in fear. As attached as we are to it because of the amount of thought, love and labour that’s gone into creating it, we absolutely would not want to live in it! No amount of technological advancement, progress or flying cars are an adequate compensation for the complete subjugation of human expression and existence.

Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?

Sarah Connor definitely!

Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?


In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?

Sarah Connor from Terminator and Louise Banks from Arrival.

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?

At one point there was gonna be a shady brothel in Shehr e Tabassum with a sex-scene between a bot and a human. My team unequivocally shot it down. Finding a good idea is a very collaborative process for us, we brainstorm and throw out every idea we can think of, being open to critique and re-working until we get somewhere that feels “right”. It helps to have an open and non judgemental creative environment where one can share the serious and silly ideas side by side--some of our best writing moments have come out ideas that started off as jokes or parodies in which we found elements that could serve the real story.

Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?

Integrating the principles of analog and taking it into new digital technologies, we want to retain the human aspect

When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

We take a walk around our cities and immerse.

Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Star Wars, Phillip K. Dick, Practical, Dystopia, not pre or post but within the Apocalypse itself.