Islamabad gets a taste of European cinema

Published June 4, 2023
Head of Political, Trade and Communications at the EU Daniel Clauss and European Union Ambassador Dr Riina Kionka conversing with Sarmad Khoosat and Sania Saeed on the first day
of the European Film Festival in Islamabad. — White Star
Head of Political, Trade and Communications at the EU Daniel Clauss and European Union Ambassador Dr Riina Kionka conversing with Sarmad Khoosat and Sania Saeed on the first day of the European Film Festival in Islamabad. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: The European Film Festival 2023 concluded in Islamabad after an exciting two days at the Pakistan National Council of Arts and The Black Hole.

Curated and organised by Olomopolo Media, the festival, which showcased European cinema, also included a workshop and panel discussion that brought together filmmakers, actors and cinema enthusiasts.

European Union (EU) Ambassador Dr Riina Kionka inaugurated the second edition of the European Film Festival which will go on to four other cities.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Kionka said: “Over the next month, we will experience a small sample of the rich European cinematic production in the form of short and feature-length films.

“In the days of streaming services, which provide an endless supply of entertainment right into our homes, the concept of ‘going to the movies’ might seem like a terribly old-fashioned way of watching film. But I believe that cinema makes its impact when it is experienced on the big screen and collectively, in a room together with friends and strangers. Cinema has the power to trigger and enrich a debate.”

“In the EU, we actively support filmmaking as an art form and a medium to address important topics that our societies are grappling with today. The films shown at the festival aren’t just good movies - they also carry important social messages – the importance of diversity and gender equality, of nurturing relations between generations, of promoting human rights, of combating climate change, and more,” she added.

The screenings on the first day included various genres of short films, documentaries, All About EU in PK, and Hungry Seagull, fiction films A Sunny Day and UneSoeur, and animations Precieux and Recit De Soi.

The full length movie, Any Day Now, told the story of the Mehdipour family as they navigate everyday life in refugee accommodation, coping with the fear that if their application for asylum is denied, life would change drastically and yet, demonstrating joy and dignity.

The festival also featured a panel discussion on ‘The Democratization of Traditional Media at the Hands of Social Media’. Moderated by Tamkenat Mansoor, the panelists were Sarmad Khoosat, Sania Saeed and Saim Sadiq.

Sania Saeed said: “We see that people are learning to use their voice politically and culturally and they are also learning the power of their voice.”

She observed that in non-democratic cultures, when instruments are introduced that can have a democratic effect, their impact is initially negative as those instruments are used to express generational anger and kneejerk reactions.

She said particularly in cultures where creativity and expression were limited or stifled, a tool such as social media is a wide open space.

While social media is a wider canvas, the reasons and messaging have to evolve, she added.

Kanwal Khoosat, award-winning filmmaker, conducted a master class for aspiring Pakistani filmmakers to learn how to produce creative narratives.

On the second day, the screening of Even Mice Belong in Heaven, an award winning animated feature film about a little mouse and a fox, two mortal enemies who become best friends after an unfortunate accident, created a space for young children to visualise the power of friendship.

The film which was about hope, a quest for love and courage, and about overcoming prejudices and old pains, fit in with the Olomopolo Media mission to nurture children in meaningful ways.

Talha Mufti from Olomopolo, said: “We are partnering with the Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan for the second time to bring this festival to local audiences. As a leading platform for cultural and creative expression with the aim of creating social awareness and sensitisation, we believe this festival is a significant step in the same direction, and we are overjoyed with the positive response we are already receiving from the enthusiastic cinephiles in each city; Islamabad, Multan, Gilgit, Peshawar and Quetta, who are eagerly waiting for the dates on which the festival reaches their city!”

EU Film Festivals are organised around the globe using a library of films that is curated by film critics and professionals from across Europe.

The team of Olomopolo chose from this library the films they considered to be the most relevant and interesting for a Pakistani audience.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2023

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