KARACHI: The last day of the two-day Pakistan Calling film festival opened with yet another set of excellent movies to show and a bigger crowd to watch the screenings on Sunday.

The crowd poured in at the Rangoonwala Community Centre during late afternoon, as one after another, 19 movies were screened on the last day of the festival.

Short fiction and non-fiction ruled the roost as Pakistan’s finest independent filmmakers got a chance to showcase their work to a larger audience.


‘Tacky work of filmmakers must be pointed out’


Pakistan’s northern mountainous range and stories of unsung porters made an impact. Food and Craft, a short non-fiction by Faryal Arif, based on cultural practices of the indigenous communities in and around the Neelam Valley set the tone for the rest of the day.

Filmmaker Lara Lee’s K2 & the Invisible Footmen, with its crisp storytelling regarding the life of porters showed an unseen and unspoken fact about their lives.

It was followed by filmmaker Rijaa Nadeem’s story Piece of Naan about an unusual friendship between a transvestite, Rafi, and a girl named Nadia, who is shown to be from an affluent background, but forced into prostitution by her indebted father. Danish Renzu, through his short fiction In Search of America weaves a strong story about a ‘codependent’ woman, Shaheen Ilyas, who travels from Pakistan to Los Angeles, US, to surprise her husband of five years, Ali Ilyas. She finds that her husband has already married to another woman. Knowing the truth, what saves her is the acceptance letter from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the department of medicine, which she received before beginning her journey to the US but kept aside to surprise her husband.

Two panel discussions, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening, provided the much needed discussion on topics such as animation in Pakistan.

Moderated by Alifya Khandwala, animation and visual effects producer at Waadi Animations, the discussion began with the moderator asking the four panellists about the future of animation in the country.

Kamran Khan, head of production at Waadi Animations, as well as instructor at Iqra University, said most people get into animation as self-taught professionals and it became a problem working with them because they had technical understanding of animation, but they lacked imagination.

“My journey was the same. My mentor pushed me towards animation even though in my head I was a production guy. And that’s the thing. Most people don’t try to get out of their comfort zone. We want to stay within the boundaries of what we think we know. If I were not pushed towards animation, I would have remained in a self-made bubble,” Khan added.

He also spoke about his students being sold on the idea of earning big bucks without putting in the effort to understand their craft.

Taking the discussion forward, animator Amyn Farooqui said most countries abroad relied on their local content which eventually became their selling point. For instance, he said that Tamilian superstar Rajinikanth was known in Japan as well through constant generation of local content eventually finding acceptability abroad.

“There’s a vacuum in Pakistan when it comes to producing local content,” said Farooqui. He added that “the vacuum is also exacerbated by a largely held misconception that the quality of an animation movie should be as good as a Pixar animation movie. There is no patience of evolving through the work we produce, which needs to be considered if we actually want to grow within the field.”

As the discussion went on about lack of facilities and funding often leading to an unfinished or tacky animation product, Durriya Kazi, who established the department of visual studies at the University of Karachi, gave another perspective. Seated in the front row in the main hall, she said people should not accept tacky or lazy work from artists and point it out. “Please come to us and say that you are not doing a good job. It is better than us working in isolation,” she added.

Panel discussion in the evening moderated by Durriya Kazi discussed ‘Films for Social Change’. Directors and producers such as Maheen Zia, Aquila Ismail, Arbab Hussain and Yusuf Qureshi spoke about how films could bring about change while keeping the message simplistic and not preachy.

In the concluding ceremony of the second and last day of the festival, awards were distributed among artists with outstanding work in the field of arts.

Veteran actor Qazi Wajid, famous for his roles in Dhoop Kinaray, Tanhayan and Shehzori, received the life-time achievement award. Director and photographer Mobeen Ansari, also received an award which his friend and photographer Danial Shah received on his behalf.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2016

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