KARACHI: A short documentary about a coalmine in Balochistan titled Seven Vertical Miles made by Ali Haider, Ali Baloch, Hassan Zia and Zeeshan Haider won the first prize of the ‘It Only Happens in Pakistan video story contest 2019’ organised by Dawn.Com and Deutsche Welle (DW) at a local hotel on Saturday. This year the theme of the competition was ‘Our Diverse Pakistan’.
It was an eventful evening, enlivened by its host Khalid Malik, comprising screenings of films followed by panel discussions and an award-distribution ceremony.
The second prize went to The Disgustful helmed by Waleed Akram while Boxing Against All Odds directed by Fahad Kahut bagged the third prize.
Chairperson Dawn Media Group Amber Saigol and director general of Deutsche Welle (DW) Peter Limbourg gave away the top three prizes. The two also put questions to the filmmakers and their colleagues about their creative efforts.
This year’s theme of the competition was ‘Our Diverse Pakistan’
Ali Haider’s little speech about his father’s death in a bomb blast in Quetta after which he was raised by his mother and uncle moved everyone present at the venue. His mother and uncle also came to the stage on the occasion; it was appreciated by the discerning audience.
Earlier, Stefan Robine announced the names of the films whose makers have been selected to work with DW teams for a 12- to 15-minute documentary. The films were Sikandar Rickshaw Wala by Aiman Saleem, Kabaddi (Alexander Volberding) and Seven Vertical Miles.
Then came the turn of the ‘Honourable Mentions’ awards. The shorts that won were Manhun Megh Malhar by Halar Khoso, Nastoor by Saad Ali Gill.
The programme began with Malik helping the audience loosen up and telling them that 200 entries were received for the contest, out of which 28 were picked. To elucidate the process for the audience, he said five films each in two categories — storytelling and technical skills — would be shown during the evening. After the films of the first bunch were screened, Gulzeb Shakil, Stefan Robine, Omer Nafees and Adeel Wali Rais were invited to speak on the category. Replying to a question, Robine said: “A good story is the one you remember.”
In the discussion that took place after the films of the second set were shown was participated by Babar Sheikh, Arsalan Majid and Mustafa Ilyas. Sheikh said: “It is one of the easiest times to put a film together. There was a time if you had a story it was difficult to tell it because digital technology hadn’t progressed as it has now when everyone has a filming device in their pockets.”
Majid said these days one could learn filmmaking through the internet. The best avenue for a filmmaker is YouTube. Ilyas on the question of budgeting remarked that the smart way to budget a movie is to look around and see what you have available. He commented that the term that describes Pakistanis is ‘jugaar’, which he translated as connecting the dots.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019