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The winning entries of the 'It Happens Only In Pakistan' short-film contest

All stories are a classic combination of emotive story-telling and passionate characters that you find only in Pakistan.

Updated 10 Jun, 2018 04:31pm

Top three winners

The first three films take home Rs500,000, Rs350,000, and Rs250,000 as prize money, respectively.

First Prize - Waahi

Shot by Karachi-based Arsalan Majid, Haris Sehgal and Ghulam Abbas, Waahi was chosen as the winner out of more than 2,000 entries received from all over Pakistan for the video story contest, #ItHappensOnlyInPakistan.

Employing stellar cinematography and compelling story-telling, Waahi recounts the journey of Iqbal Mai, a woman farmer shattering stereotypes with her courage and resilience. Iqbal Mai is among the 72pc women who make up Pakistan's agricultural workforce.

"The film as a whole is remarkable and hits the right spot both in terms of narrative and also in for the grand cinematic appeal. Not to mention the breath-taking production design and sound design. This is done with a vision!" — Filmmaker Babar Sheikh.

Second Prize - Hidayatkar

Hidayatkar by Ahsan Ali, Ammar Rehmani, Kami and Bilal Sagar won the second prize in the Dawn.com and Deutsche Welle video story contest, #ItHappensOnlyinPakistan

It follows the journey of independent director M.H. Hussaini, a fisherman who has written, produced and directed more than 14 films on his own.

Hussaini writes his own scripts, finds locations himself, and is also in-charge of makeup and wardrobe. He says he shot his best film for a mere Rs2,350.

"A film with a superb narrative and great pace. This is what real Pakistan should be about: passion-driven talent that sees no limits!" — Babar Sheikh

Third Prize - Background

Shot by Lahore-based duo Fazal Ahmad and Abdul Basit, this film won the third prize in this contest.

Background is the story of Jani Baba, an actor who has played minor supporting roles in more than 160 Pakistani films since the last 47 years.

His expressions and charisma onscreen grab the viewer's attention from the very first scene.

"Unforgettable, moving, emotional, true and tragically romantic! This one takes the cake." — Babar Sheikh

"Incredible story, shot beautifully." — Filmmaker Jamshed "Jami" Mahmood

Honourable mentions

Two outstanding films were recognised as the honourable mentions and each won Rs150,000 as prize money.

Honourable Mention 1 - Pile of mud, ounce of gold

Directed by Omer Nafees, Rohan Azhar and Bilal Lateef, this film follows Arif Bhatti and his companions in Lahore's Sunehri Mandi as they sweep the streets and fish through the sewers of the old city, extracting gold out of trash.

"Unbelievable story!" — Jami

"Tastefully crafted narrative with lots of modern and contemporary vibes. I like how they combine text to tell the story. Well done! " — Babar Sheikh

Honourable Mention 2 - Mir Bahar: Lord of the sea

Taimur Rahim and Waheed Ali narrate in this short film how members of the Mohana tribe spend their entire lives in houseboats. From funerals to weddings, everything is done on the boat — and this practice has continued for centuries.

"This film is a complete visual treat, I would not be surprised if some educational work can be carried out for this community after the viewing of this film." — Babar Sheikh

Social Media Prizes

The contest also invited filmmakers to publish their short films on social media with the hashtag #ItHappensOnlyInPakistan and compete for two prizes of Rs50,000 each. The following two entries were picked as winners in the social media contest.

Social media prize 1: Papu Bhai

Papu Bhai by Usman Zia and Abdulrayhman Sheikh is a short film on seven brothers who run one of the most famous street food stalls in Bahawalpur.

Social media prize 2: Qadar - A poem on Hunza blossom

This short film features a poetic narration by Hassan Tanveer and sums up the beauty of Hunza valley and its surroundings.


It Happens Only In Pakistan is a nationwide video story contest organised by Dawn.com and Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's international broadcaster. The contest invited filmmakers from all over Pakistan to submit short documentary-styled videos on subjects that are uniquely Pakistani. Jury for the contest included noted Pakistani documentary filmmakers Jami and Babar Sheikh. The contest accepted entries from March 23 to May7, 2018.