Lollywood has been floundering for a long time, but there is finally good news for the beleaguered industry! Two Pakistani films have been accepted for screening at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Film Festival starting from May 11 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The festival, to be held at the National Film Corporation Cinema Hall in Colombo, will conclude on May 15. All the member states are required to nominate two feature films. The top three films will be awarded at the end of the event.
Mohabbatan Sachiyan and Shackles Yet to Open are the two films selected to represent Pakistan at the festival. Shahzad Rafique, who has directed both the films, had the English subtitling done from India.
In February, Pakistan could not participate in South Asian Film Festival in Canberra, Australia, because the ministry of culture did not inform the filmmakers on time. Since Pakistan does not have any subtitling machine for film, the filmmakers were not left with enough time to take their films abroad to fulfill the subtitling requirement.
This time, however, the ministry of foreign affairs forwarded the concept note, tentative agenda and duration of the proposed Saarc Film Festival to the ministry of culture in time. The ministry then sent it to the Central Board of Film Censors, which forwarded it to the the Pakistan Film Producers Association. Miraculously, this labyrinthine process was completed in time.
A concept note written on Saarc Film Festival 2011 reads: “The Saarc Cultural Centre, in keeping with its mandate of promoting culture in the region through different modes of art, will showcase films from the region as cultural expressions at its Saarc Festival. The film festival will give all member states an opportunity to screen some of the best films from the region.
The Saarc Film Festival will aim to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and shared points of view from film directors from the region.”
The Saarc film festival will focus on promoting some of the best films released in 2010 from all the member states. The festival will hold workshops for the directors of the selected movies and will also recognise the best feature films released in 2010.
The festival will start with the screening of an Afghan feature film, while the first Pakistani film will be screened on May 13, followed by the second one on May 15. Other than Pakistan and Afghanistan, films from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal will be screened.
Talking to The Express Tribune Shahzad Rafique said: “Mohabbatan Sachiyan is a youth-oriented film which portrays the lighter side of village life in Pakistan. It shows that people in villages are also getting education and, they too, fall in love.
It shows Pakistan as a loving nation and portrays a softer image of the country. My other film Shackles Yet to Open is a meaningful issue-based film to address one of the major issues in our society where a bias towards women exists.”
Rafique said that such festivals were very important for promoting regional cooperation and peace, adding that he would like to raise the issue of giving visas to filmmakers to visit Saarc countries freely. “Filmmakers in Pakistan have to go to India for the post-production work and they should be given visas for the purpose easily,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2011.
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