For the first time in Pakistan, international and national films on transgender rights, concerns and issues will be screened during a festival organised by the non-government organisation (NGO) The Gender Guardian, Express News reported.
The film festival will be hosted at Alhamra Hall during the month of June. Speaking to Express News, Asif Shehzad, the man behind the organisation, said that entries from all over the world will be screened at the one-of-a-kind festival. “The festival will screen short films and documentaries on topics such as transgender rights, issues and their achievements in different spheres of life,” he explained.
He claimed that this was the first time in the country that films on such topics will be exhibited. “The purpose of the festival is to highlight and show transgender people the different opportunities that are available to them so that they are able to positively contribute to society,” he stated.
All entries have to be between seven to 15 minutes in length, he expressed. Further, Shehzad revealed that a film on a transgender person studying at The Gender Guardian is also in the works. This particular short film is being produced by the NGO’s team and will be screened at the film festival. Real life events that the person encountered in Lahore will be re-enacted in the film.
“A few years ago, a transgender individual went to a government hospital where the female doctor on duty refused to treat her claiming that she was a male,” Shehzad explains. “The short films and documentaries will be centered on the issues faced by transgender individuals. These include difficulties in acquiring government documents, inheritance and property issues, sexual harassment and discrimination in their own homes and in educational institutes,” he said.
The organisers maintained that they will also try to include films and documentaries made in neighbouring countries such as India where the topic has been discussed in a wide array of mediums. The winner of the five minute short film will be given Rs50,000 while the winner of the 15 minute short film will be given Rs0.1 million and a certificate.
Shehzad added that films are currently being accepted for the festival and entries can be submitted until the end of May. Filmmaking experts will be invited to select the best films and documentaries after scrutinising all the entries. Apart from this, the Gender Guardian is also running a school where they give transgender individuals vocational training such as cooking classes, driving classes and beautician courses. The aim behind this move is to empower transgender people with the necessary skills they require in order to lead a better life.