For the love of art: Showcasing the best and brightest of Pakistani cinema

Published: November 27, 2016
The Pakistan Calling Film Festival was organised by Karachi University’s visual studies department and VM Art Gallery. PHOTO: COURTESY PAKISTAN CALLING FILM FESTIVAL FACEBOOK PAGE

The Pakistan Calling Film Festival was organised by Karachi University’s visual studies department and VM Art Gallery. PHOTO: COURTESY PAKISTAN CALLING FILM FESTIVAL FACEBOOK PAGE

KARACHI: While one section of our media industry struggles to sustain itself, the other is focused on building its future. One such initiative is the Pakistan Calling Film Festival, organised by Karachi University’s department of visual studies and VM Art Gallery.

The two-day festival was held at the Rangoonwala Community Centre on Saturday and Sunday. The first day of the festival included film screenings by various emerging filmmakers and three panel discussions, which revolved around various aspects of cinema and television. A lighting workshop by cinematographer Faraz Iqbal, a visual effects workshop presented by ICE Animations and an art exhibition, titled ‘Lights, Art… Action!’, were also held.

The films ranged from fiction to non-fiction and covered a diverse range of topics from graffiti art and arranged marriage to street children and period dramas. Child by Humad Nisar, Taqseem by Serajus Salikin, Supun Xik by Zeeo Zia and Laal by Safwan Sabzwari were screened among others.

The first of the three panels, ‘The Nexus of Film and Television’, saw actors Talat Hussain, Shakeel, Seema Taher Khan, Mustafa Changazi and Murtaza Chaudry discuss the history and evolution of the industry. The session was moderated by Saqlain Zaidi, an assistant professor at the Shaheed Zulfikar Aali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, who, speaking to The Express Tribune, commended the festival’s organising team for the much-needed initiative. “Such festivals are necessary in our industry,” he said. “I think they should happen at least once a month.”

Theatres to bring back best of Pakistani cinema

This one is organised by students mainly and it’s really important for the young generation, he said. “They need to hear from people like Talat Hussain and Shakeel who have been in the industry for decades and learn from them. They need the knowledge of these rich minds,” asserted Zaidi.

The second session ‘Karachi Biennale’s Film as Witness’, involved filmmaker Nameera Ahmed and writer Sibtain Naqvi discussing the role of film as a witness to Pakistan’s social and cultural history. The third session, ‘The Business of Film’, saw panellists Nueplex director of media and marketing Kamran Yar Khan, producer Mazhar Zaidi, Saleem Ahmed, journalist Omair Alavi and Cinepax marketing general manager Mohsin Yaseen discuss the business aspects of cinema.

When asked how such festivals help up-and-coming filmmakers, Kamran Yar Khan said, “It’s a wonderful way for the youth to learn about the business of cinema. A lot of them know the production aspects of film but are not aware of the distribution process and how to get their product out in the market.” However, he believed the team could have done better marketing to attract a larger audience.

Can Pakistani cinema survive without Bollywood?

Day one of the festival turned out to be quite informative for the audience, as they, carrying bags on their shoulders with smiles on their faces, exited the halls after the screenings and panels. An animation student said he enjoyed some of the films and learned a lot from the panels. However, he did not like the current situation of cinema. “I came here thinking I would be motivated and encouraged to pursue what I love. But the bitter truth of our current situation is kind of de-motivating. It doesn’t mean I will quit though, as we will build the future of our industry,” he said.

Another film student said he enjoyed the experience of learning from professionals; especially the lighting workshop.

With over 200 people attending the festival on the first day, the Pakistan Calling Film Festival showcased local talent and served as an informative offering for the young generation of filmmakers.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2016.

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