It’s time for Pakistani film-makers to try their luck at being internationally recognised. The Pakistani Academy Selection Committee is now accepting submissions for the Oscar category of Best Foreign Language Film.
Chaired by film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, producer Mehreen Jabbar, author Mohsin Hamid, actor Rahat Kazmi, writer-director Akifa Mian, IBA professor Framji Minwalla and actor-director Samina Peerzada, the committee has announced August 25 as the last date of submission. Its aim is to select one film as Pakistan’s official submission to forward for the Foreign Language Film award category, which considers feature-length motion pictures produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.
While it is unfortunate that despite producing many feature films which could have earned at least a nomination, Pakistan has failed to submit films for this category for 50 years. In 1959, Jago Hua Savera was submitted by film-maker AJ Kardar, while in 1963, feature film Ghungat (The Veil) was submitted to the Academy Award for consideration as Best Foreign Language Film. In an interview with Variety, British-Pakistani film-maker Hammad Khan of Slackistan fame, explains the 50-year absence as a result of Pakistan’s attitude towards cinema as well as political turmoil. “Pakistan has been so preoccupied with coups, wars and religion that cinema has only been reduced to low entertainment by the powers-that-be. It is, of course, monumentally idiotic to ignore the power of cinema in the development of any nation’s narrative,” he says.
Director Iram Parveen Bilal, who has confirmed to The Express Tribune that she will be submitting her film Josh to the Academy, welcomes the formation of the committee. “Having an Oscar nomination committee for Pakistan has been one of my missions for a while – [I am] glad Sharmeen was willing to take the torch to help us form it,” she says. “As film-makers, we make films and should at least have the opportunity to be considered. On an international level it is important for Pakistan to have a voice at the table and be able to represent itself.”
Member Samina Peerzada also sees the committee as a positive sign for Pakistani cinema. “Finally! Young film-makers will have a platform to showcase their talent and, above all, a clear pathway as to how to reach the Oscars. I am delighted to be a part of this venture and am excited about seeing and discussing films. Hopefully there will come a day when one of our feature films will make us proud.”
The Academy Awards, now officially known as The Oscars, are given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements. Journalist and documentarian Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won an Oscar for her film Saving Face in 2012 under the category Best Documentary, Short Subject, in which she highlighted the issue of acid attacks on Pakistani women.
Criteria for eligibility:
1. The motion picture must first be released in the country of submission no earlier than October 1, 2012 and no later than September 30, 2013.
2. The film must be publicly exhibited for seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theatre for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.
3. The picture must be advertised and exploited during its eligibility run in a manner considered normal and customary to the industry. The picture need not have been released in the United States.
4. No type of television or Internet transmission may occur at any time prior to the motion picture’s theatrical release.
5. The recording of the original dialogue track as well as the completed picture must be predominantly in a language or languages other than English. Accurate English-language subtitles are required.
6. The film must be feature-length, defined as a minimum of 40 minutes, except for short subject awards, and it must exist either on a 35 mm or 70 mm film print or in 24 frame/s or 48 frame/s progressive scan digital cinema format with native resolution no less than 1280x720.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2013.
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