KARACHI: The 7th annual Karachi Conference began at the Institute of Business Administration (city campus) on Friday evening with the screening of more than a dozen short films made by students.
The first batch of four films comprised of Darya Pir, Cassette, My Mom’s Birthday and Prime Time.
Darya Pir, directed by Sachal Dars is a seven-minute documentary that traces the journey of a man, a devotee, to a shrine in Sindh. The narration is in the Sindhi language, and it is evident from the footage and the man’s voice that he holds the shrine and the saint in high esteem for many reasons, one of which is that it is visited by people of different religious persuasions.
Over a dozen short films made by students screened on the first day of the event
The second presentation was a 14-minute film titled Cassette. Helmed by Ali Tejani it focuses on a young couple, in a car, engaged in a conversation.
The third piece was a five-minute film called My Mom’s Birthday directed by Adeel Wali Raees. It is about a man who does a white-collar job but constantly ignores his mother’s phone calls. At his office, his servant requests him for a day’s leave so that he could take part in his [servant’s] mother’s birthday, who it turns out has passed on but the boy wants to keep her memory fresh.
The last film of the first group was Prime Time made by Syed Hasan Mujtaba Jafri. As the name of the project suggests, the 14-minute story is about the television media’s lust for sensationalism even at the cost of innocent children’s psychological well-being. It tells the tale of a TV anchor/presenter who is coaxed by her producer to ask tough questions of a minor girl whose parents have been killed in front of her. It creates a tussle within the heart and mind of the presenter but she can’t do much about it.
After the screenings, Rumana Husain invited the directors of the films on stage to have a chit-chat with her and film reviewer M. Kamran Jawaid but only one [Sachal Dars], out of the four, was present in the hall.
It’s strange because it is generally believed that young film-makers get excited about such opportunities, especially when their movies are being showcased at a conference which is about Karachi and their films are not necessarily about the city.
Replying to a question put to him by Ms Husain, Dars said he’s a journalism student who’s asked to make a documentary as part of his thesis. The story of his documentary highlighted the journey of a devotee to a shrine visited by both Muslims and Hindus, he said.
The next bunch of films began with the 14-minute long Puntastic directed by Maryum Masood. It’s a light-hearted take on widely held irrational beliefs and how society, even those who belong to the educated segment, look at girls.
It was followed by a five-minute documentary called Seeking Conversations around Autism by Zainab Zaidi. As can be gauged from the title, the young director has tried to raise awareness among masses about the developmental disorder through short interviews of medical practitioners.
Then came Sanwli, a 14-minute film by Naiha Eiman about a girl with a wheatish complexion.
The other films that were lined up for screening were: Dar Badar (Mohammad Phaseeh ul Haque), Chaos and Order (Mariam Siddiqui), Black Water (Maryam Qureshi), Fight to Freedom (Lubna Aftab) and Nomads of Tharparkar (Zanmar Jokhio).
While it would be unfair to be harsh on the young film-makers if one was asked to critique their efforts because they’ve just begun their careers, one believes that the organisers of the conference should make sure that they see or vet the films before allowing them to be shown.
Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2019