The day began at the LUMS International Film Festival with a screening of the film The Blue Veins, based on Saadat Hasan Manto’s Neeli Ragein.
Director Zeeshan Kazmi, who also plays the lead role, said: “The film tries to capture the soul of the short story.”
Kazmi said he had intentionally kept the film off-beat. The short film, shot as a dark conversation between the protagonist and his friend, leaves much to the imagination of the viewers.
“The audience can choose their own interpretations and leave room for translation,” he told the audience.
“Unfortunately over the years much importance has been given to the commercial aspect of film-making and not the art”, he said.
He said film-makers should focus on developing a purely cinematic language for film.
“Great films are not made through technology but by exploring psychology,” said Kazmi.
The most anticipated workshop of the festival kicked off an hour late. Shahzad Rafique, a director and producer, said that the media had been long reiterating that the local cinema had failed.
He said the film industry has a bright future. “My hopes rest with the students of NCA and other such institutes where students go to great lengths to learn and explore new skills,” he added. Rafique denied that the film industry was failing.
“The fact of the matter is films have never been considered important in Pakistan,” he said. “India is globally known for its cinema because the people own their cinema and invest their energies and resources in it,” he added.
He blamed the 11-year Zia era for destroying cinema in Pakistan. He said movies like Aina, Bandish and Zindagee were a reflection of the old days. “There should always be a reason for making a film,” Rafique said. Rafique said the brains behind the camera were far more powerful than the faces in front of it.
“People take out time and spend their money to come and see your work – respect that,” he said.
An international entry called Finding Ambrosia was screened on Sunday. The 15-minute film revolved around a man’s regrets and trying to make amends through time. The film had just two characters.
The 17 minute short film Pagal, directed by Emaad Khalid, is a story of a boy who falls in love only to be betrayed. The film follows multiple time lines of reality and fantasy.
The festival concluded with the awards night. The best documentary award was won by Tharparkar by Fallen Tree Productions while the best feature film award went to Kashmakash by Nayab T. productions.
School Diary won the award for best animation film. In the short film category Pagal won the best film award. The judges for the festival included Seemi Raheel, Sania Saeed, Bushra Ansari and Mehreen Raheel for the documentary category. Syed Noor, Shahzad Rafique, Ahsan Khan and Behroze Sabzwari were the jury for feature-length film. Animation films were judged by Bilal Lashari, Nabeel Khan and Omair Rana, and short films by Zeeshan Kazmi, Mikaal Zulfiqaar and Saleem Shaikh.
In the international categories, Mexican documentray God has Arrived won the best documentary award. Operation Terror won the best feature-length film award and the Israeli production Happily Ever After won the best animation award. The short film Finding Ambrosia won the best short film award in the international category.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2013.