KARACHI: Strong concepts blended with some brilliant acting were offered to the audience as 30 students exhibited their short films and documentaries at Pak-American Cultural Center on the second day of the Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP) Film Festival, 2015.
Students from Balochistan and Sindh were trained about filmmaking at IDSP, after which they had to go back to their native towns and shoot films. From heart wrenching tales of the Hazaras to target killing incidents in Karachi, the students exhibited some of the very dominant social issues pertaining to human rights, violence, peace, justice and the lives of people living in marginalised settings of Pakistan.
For instance, Ali Ahmed from Mastung played his short film, titled ‘Dhutuk’, on how a blind cleric is duped into becoming a suicide bomber. The film showed the air of distrust and volatility that prevails in the region. A man, pretending to help him, takes the cleric to his house and tricks him into wearing a suicide vest. The blind man goes out to buy a doll for his little daughter but ends up blowing himself up.
Another film, titled ‘Gurya’, focused on how forced marriages, domestic violence and rape are so interwoven in our society’s makeup. It portrays a young girl, Saima, who is being forced into a marriage while she is in love with another man, Zubair. With messages such as ‘When a girl is young and lost in thoughts, she should be married off’ carrying the storyline forward, the film ends on a tragic note when Zubair and his friend rape Saima and she returns home only to be rejected by her family. Once again the theme of the story revolves around betrayal, distrust and miscalculated friendships among other things.
According to filmmaker and teacher Maqbool Ahmed Durrani, students found a platform in the film festival to focus on different things happening around them. “From how the waderas [landlords] of Sindh use women [as a commodity] to target killings [happening] in Khuzdar and Mastung, we got to know so much that we didn’t know before,” he said. On the other hand, Fareeda from Sibi, who is learning photography at IDSP, said that although techniques of photography and filmmaking are different, the ideas shared in the festival are worthy of attention.
From Sindh, a short film that earned great applause was ‘Football’, based on an urban centre in Karachi. Depicting the life of a daily wage earner, Shakeel, whose young son is an avid football fan, it is a gut-wrenching story of how sudden law and order chaos takes Shakeel’s life, leaving his young boy and his football passion behind.
On the third day of the festival, awards will be given to the best short films and documentaries.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2015.