50 years on, Pakistan part of the Oscars once more

Published August 2, 2013
— AFP File Photo
— AFP File Photo

HOLLYWOOD: After hiatus of about 50 years, Pakistan will once again dance at the Oscars.

Although the committee has not yet chosen the film, Pakistan will be submitting an entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Each country is allowed one submission and can decide how that film can be chosen. The deadline for submitting foreign-language film submissions to the Academy this year is September 30, 2013.

The committee to choose the film is independent from the government even though will be approving the selection.

The committee is chaired by Emmy and Academy award winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and includes Mehreen Jabbar (veteran of the industry, with a prolific career as Director/Producer of gritty, hard-hitting films for Pakistani Television), Mohsin Hamid (author of the novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia), Rahat Kazmi (Pakistani actor, talk-show anchor, professional speaker and academician), Akifa Mian (writer, director and assistant professor of Film at Beaconhouse National University), Framji Minwalla (professor at IBA whose research and teaching interests include Performance history, visual and cultural studies, film studies, media and communications and all forms of theory) and Samina Peerzada (film actress and director who has appeared in numerous films and television serials). Pakistan has submitted 2 films to the Academy since its inception, with the last submission dating back to 1963.

With 21 releases in the year so far, Pakistani cinema is having a revival of sorts, giving selectors a wide variety of movies to choose from.

Historically, Pakistan has sent only two films to the Academy since the category was created in 1956, Akhtar J. Kardar’s “Jago hua savera” in 1959 and Khawaja Khurshid Anwar’s “Ghunghat” in 1963.

British-Pakistani Hammad Khan, known for his debut feature “Slackistan” was banned in Pakistan spoke to the Variety, a weekly entertainment-trade magazine.

“Pakistan has not officially submitted any films for the Academy Awards consideration in 50 years because the state has never taken film seriously, neither as a cultural art form nor as a valuable communal experience,” he said. “In all those years, 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.”

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