Winner 2011

Independent Lens: Bhutto

Independent Lens, Bhutto Film, LLC

Bhutto is primarily a biography of Benazir Bhutto, the charismatic former Pakistani prime minister who was assassinated in 2007 when she returned from exile to challenge the regressive political order. But it‘s also a succinct account of the rise and downfall of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan‘s first democratically elected prime minister, and a crash course in the history of this chronically poor, nuclear-armed nation whose fate remains tangled with that of the United States. Director Duane Baughman and editor Jessica Hernandez make superb use of plentiful news footage and photos available thanks to the Bhutto family‘s Kennedy-like status in Pakistan. The film unfolds like an epic novel, documenting how its bright, glamorous, ill-fated subject was born into wealth, privilege and reform-minded politics, groomed for a diplomatic career and educated at Harvard and Oxford in the heady era of anti-Vietnam War protest and women‘s liberation. She was an unlikely political icon for a devoutly Muslim country where most women still wore burkas, yet that is what she became after her father was deposed by his top military advisor and later executed. The film deals forthrightly with her two terms as prime minister, her exit amid charges of corruption, her exile and her tragic effort to return and reclaim power. It’s all the more dramatic for having her own recorded words provide much of the narration. For its insights into both Benazir Bhutto and the perpetually turbulent country she improbably came to govern, Bhutto receives a Peabody Award.


Executive Producers: Glenn Aveni, Sally Fifer (for ITVS). Senior Series Producer: Lois Vossen (for Independent Lens). Producers: Duane Baughman, Mark Siegel, Arleen Sorkin. Director: Duane Baughman. Writer: Johnny O’Hara. Editor: Jessica Hernandez