Faiz festival opens with photo exhibitions, play

November 16, 2019

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VISITORS gather on the premises of Alhamra to attend Faiz International Festival. — White Star
VISITORS gather on the premises of Alhamra to attend Faiz International Festival. — White Star

LAHORE: The fifth three-day (15th-17th) Faiz International Festival opened at the Alhamra Art Center, The Mall, on Friday amid the presence of a number of visitors.

The venue has been adorned with flexes featuring Faiz’s portraits and poetry. Besides sessions on various topics and tributes, book stalls and food court have been set up. The festival is being organised by the Faiz Foundation Trust in collaboration with the Lahore Arts Council.

The opening ceremony took place at the Alhamra Art Gallery, The Mall, with the inauguration of two exhibitions – one on Baba Guru Nanank in connection with his 550the birth anniversary celebrations and the other on Faiz Ahmed Faiz and his contemporaries. The exhibitions were inaugurated by Faiz Foundation Trust chairperson Saleema Hashmi.

Information and Culture Secretary Raja Jahangir, Lahore Arts Council Executive Director Ather Ali Khan, LAC Board of Governors chairperson Moneeza Hashmi and many other guests were also present.

Saleema Hashmi welcomed the guests and visitors to the festival which, she said, was the outcome of the efforts of the Faiz Foundation Trust and the Lahore Arts Council. She also welcomed the foreign guests.

Bhiwander Singh, a British historian, thanked the festival management for inviting. He said the message of Baba Guru Nanak was one of humanity. He said when he first time came to Lahore he was 20 years old. It’s great to be here at the festival, he added.

Dr Arvinder Chamak, a poet from India, praised the Pakistan government for opening the Kartarpur Corridor. He said Pakistanis had given a lot of respect and love. “It’s a unique exhibition and a unique festival,” he said. The second exhibition was about Faiz’s commitment to liberation and poetry which propelled him into a perpetual oscillation across the globe. It led him into constant embrace with the great writers and intellectuals of his time. Despite his notably shy disposition, Faiz cultivated intimate and loyal bonds through his willingness to share his ideas and self with the people.

Naturally, these bonds were made with like-minded individuals existing as writers, activists or participants in other cultural art affairs.

The exhibition featured a selection of photographs documenting Faiz’s literary contributions he made alongside his writer contemporaries. Faiz played an integral role in establishing the organisations such as the All-India Progressive Writers Association and later, the Afro-Asian Writers Association.

The two exhibitions were curated by Prof Nazish Atuallah, Saleema Hashmi, Dr Samina Iqbal and others.

Part of the opening day was Ajoka’s play Saira Aur Maira that paid tribute to human rights icon, the late Asma Jahangir. Written and directed by Shahid Nadeem, the play revolved around famous cases which Asma fought in and outside courts, resulting in landmark judgments on issues such as honour killings, women’s right to marry and minority rights.

Despite its grim subject, the play is a celebration of courage and conviction of the women fighting against unjust patriarchal system. The story is presented with theatrical embellishment, enchanting music, dramatic lighting and stunning choreography.

An evening with Ali Sethi, titled Guloon Mein Rang Bharay was also part of the opening day activities.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2019