The 36th Goteborg International Film Festival (GIFF) in Sweden gave the team of Pakistani film Good Morning Karachi (GMK) a reason to visit their brutally cold city this time of year. Why else would one fly to Sweden if not for the recognition of their independent project premiered at the largest film festival of Scandinavia?
Every year, more than 1,500 film-makers, directors, producers, actors and press reps from around the world attend the 11-day festival. It has become a place to network, educate, participate and entertain while recognising the work being done in the global film market.
Pakistani film-maker Sabiha Sumar, along with 12 of GMK’s cast and crew including, was present to support the film. Model Amna Ilyas, who made her debut in the film and actors Beo Rana Zafar and RJ and actor Khalid Malik, who played supporting roles were also seen.
Based on the novel Rafina penned by Shandana Minhas, the film is about an underprivileged young girl who dreams to become a model and live a lavish life. The film received positive feedback and all of the three showings were sold out.
Co-ordinator and programmer of the festival Ulf Sigvardson explains an increase in the number of international feature films in the last 10 years. “This year is the biggest festival with 300 feature films and documentaries,” he says. “GIFF granted funds which encouraged international film-makers to produce films without restrictions.”
“Unfortunately, the Swedish government has stopped this funding and if we can’t start a new fund, we will lose some international films.”
GMK was also one of the films supported by the fund, which helped Sumar. GIFF’s decision to end this type of financial assistance means independent film-makers like Sumar will not get the opportunity to showcase their work. “The funds would help produce films that show parts of the world we haven’t seen yet. The film-makers can bring awareness to issues in their country,” explains Sigvardson.
Sigvardson also commented on how insightful it was watching GMK. “It is a good film, with absolutely brilliant acting. It has been shot in difficult conditions with a minimum budget,” he says. “In the Swedish news all we see are bomb blasts, destruction, and people crying in Pakistan.”
At the screening, model Amna Ilyas said, “I want to do more movies — maybe even in Hollywood, I felt so proud being one of the few to represent Pakistan. I wasn’t expecting so much love and appreciation from the international audience.” She added, “It’s important to fulfill your dreams despite what gender you are. It’s not necessary to take your clothes off to show your freedom in society, it’s important to work towards your goals.”
Actor Khalid Malik felt privileged to be a part of a Pakistani film that is being recognised internationally. “I feel proud, but at the same time, sad that Pakistan is embarrassed of owning our product. We need to own, stand up and support our products,” says Malik.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2013.
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