LAHORE: From a raw depiction of gambling and prostitution in Hong Kong to animated documentaries reflecting the aspirations of women across the globe, the first day of the 5th Vasakh Film Festival opened its doors to public at the Forman Christian (FC) College on Monday.
With 14 international documentaries being screened on the first day, the hall in the Armacost Building was packed for the opening session of the first day. The festival began with an in-house production of FC College and then proceeded to include foreign short documentaries.
“The festival is meant to be a reflection of our culture and hence it's called Vasakh,” said Hira Saeed while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Saeed, a third year Mass Communication student, is part of the ‘Media Team’ which will be overlooking the co-ordination of the festival which hopes to attract attention in the coming days.
Broken down into two sessions, the festival began with an 11-minute long Iranian documentary titled An-aaks (meaning ‘reflections’ in Persian). The documentary was welcomed for its filming technique based on the ‘reflections’ of its subjects. Based on the cultural centres in Iran, called ‘farhangsara’, the documentary depicted the cultural heritage of Iran which is kept alive through these centres where people learn music and arts.
Screening of Measure, an experimental documentary by Nahed Mansour, left the audience puzzled. The 3-minute short documentary, aimed to reflect the questions pertaining to one’s identity, was a self documentation by Mansour in which she inserted wooden sticks (spatulas) in her mouth.
Fatima Hassani’s animated documentary on the aspirations of a young Afghan girl followed. Aspirations, in the animated documentary, were represented through animated bubbles reflecting a young girl’s hope of studying, getting married and leading a happy life.
The 20-minute long documentary by Lam See Chit, Twenty Dollars, received much appreciation on its take on taboo subjects including prostitution, gambling and drug smuggling in Hong Kong.
Indian documentaries including Dilemma and Why were also screened. Revolving around the question of ‘why do people get angry’, the documentary Why reflects on the emotion of anger with the film-maker recording short candid interviews of ordinary people on the subject.
However, despite the first day being assigned for the screening of international documentaries, none of the foreign participants made their way to the festival. Organised jointly by the Department of Mass Communication at FC College and the Interactive Resource Centre (IRC), the audience on the first day only included students from Lahore.
“The Indian film-makers wanted personally to be part of the festival but were denied visas,” said program manager at IRC, Nasir Sohail.
Sohail said that the festival received entries from countries including Bangladesh, India, Norway, Germany and Iran. He added that as many as 40 entries were received from various universities across Pakistan.
With IRC, an NGO working on interactive communication, being the ‘main curator’ of the festival, Sohail hopes to make it a travelling film festival in the future with work underway to take universities on board in both Sargodha and Peshawar.
Having sold more than 40 tickets for the cultural evening, which will be held on the concluding day of the festival, 6th semester students of Mass Communication, Madiha Akram and Sajjad Abdullah, said many students from other departments at FC College had shown keen interest in the activity.
“The screening of the documentaries is free,” they said adding that the tickets for the cultural evening were being sold at a price ranging from Rs300-500.
The film festival will continue on April 3 and 4, screening local documentaries, followed by the announcement of the winners by a four-member jury on Wednesday.
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