Cemetery of the Lost Tribe is an immensely intriguing documentary detailing California-based Pakistani filmmaker Shoieb Yunus’s attempt to capture on film a cemetery in Karachi that houses the graves of the deceased members of Karachi’s Jewish community.
As Shoieb Yunus relates the story of how he first became aware of the existence of the cemetery and his efforts at filming it, we get to see the images of the graves in this cemetery set to a haunting score. A once vibrant Jewish community that lived and breathed in Karachi is now confined to this single cemetery which just happens to be located in one of the most dangerous and crime-infested parts of Karachi.
According to the film, there may be ten to fifteen Jewish families still living in the city of Karachi. Much like Shoieb Yunus’s earlier directorial effort, Cemetery of the Lost Tribe demonstrates his passion for and fascination with Karachi, the city of his birth. The film subtly asks the audience to imagine a different Karachi.
A different city from another time. A Karachi in which Jews could live and work alongside people of various other ethnicities. A Karachi that was truly a multicultural melting pot. A Karachi that was truly safe. As the moving images of these Jewish graves flash before our eyes, we cannot help but think of the present day Karachi, a city that yearns to once again be the city that it used to be. A city of joy and laughter. A City of Lights.
Karachi’s Jewish community played a role in building Karachi into a great city. But the contributions of community have been largely forgotten. And the this legacy of this community, much like the city of Karachi itself, has been neglected by those that have been charged with administering to the city. One hopes that this film will help shed some more light on this tribe. A tribe as lost as the city in which it once made its home.