Pakistan yet to have a national film academy

Ali Usman April 29, 2010

LAHORE: Members of the performing arts community believe that there has never been a government in Pakistan that has tried to institutionalise the art of filmmaking or acting in the country.

The Express Tribune spoke to artists and film industry members, who said that the government claims to encourage performing arts but has never sought recommendations or tried to establish a national film academy in the country. They also believe that if there had been a national film academy in the country, the film industry would not be in this situation.

They said that it was time for an academy to be established where professional training could be imparted in the various fields of filmmaking such as acting, production and camera work. There are some private institutions, such as universities with film programs including SZABIST and BNU, that have taken the initiative to start courses in filmmaking, acting and production, however, there is no such institute on the state level. “In our country the focus remains on things like defence, arms and ammunition.

Culture and things like filmmaking are the lowest priority for our government. The need for such institutes like a national film academy is dire,” said Suroosh Irfani, who heads Cultural Research at the National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore. Faiz Ghar, an academy and museum that houses poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s belongings, is one of a few institutes where training on documentary making is given on a smaller scale to young students. Former PTV director and Faiz’s daughter Moneeza Hashmi told The Express Tribune that the national film academy was an idea which should be worked upon. “In a rapidly changing world, filmmaking is an art which needs to be taught and learnt,” she said. Pakistani film director Syed Noor, who has built his own acting academy, is of the opinion that everything cannot be left to the government and the private sector also needs to take initiative.

“I have established my academy to teach acting. I have earned a reputation, respect and everything I have through this profession. However, it is the state’s responsibility to build a national film academy and gather professionals under one umbrella. Through this they can share their knowledge with a younger generation,” he said. Officials from the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) said that PNCA is currently working on building a digital lab and that at a later stage the national film academy project could be developed. The Media Director for PNCA said, “Currently there is not any plan underway but perhaps in the future we could begin work on such projects.”

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