Slackistan director Hammad Khan announced this week that his debut feature film will be premiering at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, where Shah Rukh Khan’s My Name is Khan also premiered this year. Slackistan is featured in the New Horizons category. The festival director Peter Scarlet told Emirates 24/7, “There’s an equally impressive line-up of films by new talents from Egypt, France, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and the UAE. The selection also includes one of the most surprising and unexpected new films we’ve seen all year, Slackistan by Hammad Khan, a Pakistan-UK co-production.” The festival is ongoing from October 10 to October 23.
Slackistan is also being shown at the Raindance Film Festival in the UK, the South Asian Film Festival in San Fransisco and the International Film Festival of India in Goa this year.
Hammad Khan told The Express Tribune that a Pakistan release was on the cards. “We are trying to generate some support on the back of the exposure we will get from the festivals the film shows at. We’re hoping someone will step up to help distribute it in Pakistan. That aside, I definitely plan to do charity screenings in the three major cities - Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad - to raise funds for flood rehabilitation. So that’s something that will happen regardless of when the film releases (in Pakistan).”
Khan, who went to the Cannes Film Festival to market Slackistan said his experience there helped to put it on the radar, but he had already been making efforts on his own as well. He submitted his film to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival through the regular application route, and Slackistan was selected from over 2,000 submissions, including 100 from South Asia alone. “It’s a really big honour,” Khan said.
Now that the film is making its way across the world, how does Khan feel? He laughingly says, “It has been a long journey and now I am hoping people will enjoy it - laugh and smile! After all, what is cinema for but to enjoy?”
The cinematic divide
Films on both sides of the spectrum seem to be en vogue abroad. Slackistan’s trailer starts with the line, “I was watching the news right now, and every channel you go to, basically its about the Taliban.”
While Slackistan - widely touted as Pakistan’s first slacker film - will show at multiple film festivals in an attempt to show a different side of Pakistan, documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won a major honour this week. Her documentary Dispatches - Pakistan’s Taliban Generation, which was produced for UK’s Channel 4, won an international Emmy in the current affairs category.
According to the Associated Press news agency, the documentary shows how “the Pakistani Taliban are recruiting increasingly younger fighters from small madrassas in deprived neighbourhoods to carry out deadly attacks both inside and outside Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2010.
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