The organisers of the Sindh International Film Festival hope to bring a boost to the economy and the film industry and give Pakistan a new name.
“This film festival is going to put us [Sindh] on the map,” said project manager Fakhr-e-Alam, who is also the Sindh Censor Board chairperson. “Our film industry has been ignored for too long; this time around at least there is a push to generate more films,” he said, adding that their marketing campaign will be up from mid-January.
The international film festival is not happening for the first time in Pakistan but this time around, it is supported by the government. It is scheduled to take place on February 10-11, as part of the Sindh Festival, initiated by Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
“This is only our first year, and I am optimistic that it will grow with time,” said Alam. “Look at Dubai International Film Festival today, and it only started 10 years ago,” he pointed out. “With the advent of new-age cinema in Pakistan, this is a very good time to introduce something like this.”
Local, international and Sindhi
The festival will be a meeting-point for filmmakers, film distributors and the viewers. “Other than featuring international films, we have not forgotten our Sindhi films of the 70s,” said Sharmila Farooqi, the special assistant on culture to chief minister. “We are still in the process of getting permission from the Sindhi productions to feature those films at the festival,” she said, disclosing that movies ‘Umar Marvi’, ‘Mehboob Mitha’ are likely to be featured, if all goes well.
Man behind it all
The director of the film festival, filmmaker Assad Zulfikar Khan, has been the hardest to track. “We are in the process of paving a partnership with a big film festival in London so that there is quid pro quo arrangement,” he said. Khan is so engrossed in the project that he sleeps only four hours and has one meal a day. “This project is like a baby to me,” he admitted, adding that this is his chance to do something for the industry. With entries from the United States, Greece, Mexico, United Kingdom and Belgium, the festival still needs a lot more entries from Pakistan itself. The last date for submissions is January 15.
The film festival calls upon well-known, upcoming and amateur film-makers to take part. “This festival is open for everybody,” exclaimed Alam. “This platform is showcasing all kinds of talents, new and old,” he added.
There is a competition for students-cum-filmmakers, who now have a chance through this forum. Amateurs can make a film on Sindh, which is no longer than 10 minutes. They can interpret Sindh in any way they want and exercise their creative right.
The best film-maker will be awarded Rs150,000 and will be screened at the closing ceremony of the Sindh festival in Thatta on February 15. These submissions can be sent to [email protected] till February 1. The top three of these films would be featured at the website: www.sindhfestival.com
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2014.
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great! just when i recalled and missed karafilm fest.