Films play a vital role in the social development of a society but Pakistani movies have been lacking in this area as these focus mostly on entertainment and commercial aspects, said panellists at a discussion on Films for Social Change.
The discussion was arranged as part of 60 Second International Film Festival at the University of Lahore (UoL), arranged in collaboration with the US Embassy.
The panellists included playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed, National College of Arts (NCA) lecturer Shahpara Salim and post-production expert Sohail Azaad. They agreed that films were an important avenue for bringing about a change in society and that the film industry in Pakistan was still evolving in this regard. They said films served as the key tool for societies to introspect and change accordingly.
“Films play an instrumental role in bringing about a change in society in one way or the other. These tell a story through a combination of history, heritage, literature and art,” Syed said. Viewers, he said, were part of the journey a filmmaker wanted to portray. He said that the way films brought about a change was subtle… through metaphors that inspire. He said that the track record of Pakistani film industry was dismal in terms of social change. He advised Pakistani filmmakers to follow the international film industry model.
Shahpara said that films had indirectly supported and taken part in social movements throughout the world. She said that all forms of art combined in film-making. Citing the character of Maula Jutt, she said it had become famous because it was screened in times of oppression.
She said Pakistani filmmakers had so many stories to tell but they lacked dynamism. She said that Pakistani cinema had focussed on two extremes – one was meant for amusement only and lacked substance and the other portrayed serious issues only. She said that films should provide entertainment as well as highlight social issues.
Azaad said that technology had influenced the film industry most. He said that younger people were joining the industry and colleges were teaching filmmaking. He said this would bring the industry diversity. He advised students to learn the ins and outs of the art of filmmaking.
Later, an interactive session, titled How to Stay Safe Online, was held by Bolo Bhi to tell students about digital security. Slides were shown about digital security and students were asked questions related to online security.
During the morning session, a workshop on filmmaking and photography was held. An episode of the animated series Burka Avengers was also screened. The event was held with the collaboration of WWF-Pakistan.
The film Vision by Farzad Samimi and Vahid Omidi from Afghanistan bagged the first place, Shaitan by Sourabh Bali from India stood second and Toofani Kicido by Ramaisa Shahid from Pakistan got the third place. Festival Director Abrarul Hassan said that the event was a union of art and media. He said people from around the world had participated in the festival. He said the festival had provided young filmmakers a platform to present their ideas. He said the festival would travel to more cities.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2016.