ISLAMABAD: Spanish Ambassador Jose A de Ory welcomed film fans at a reception Friday night to mark the closing of the Women International Film Festival.

The event featured short films, which was followed by Ambassador Jose A de Ory’s speech and by Madeeha Raza, whose is the founder and festival director of the Women International Film Festival.

Later guests had the chance to speak to Madeeha Raza over traditional Spanish delicacies and feel good music.

“Women have not been equal for many centuries and there is still a long way to go. For us feminism, protection and empowering women is a tenet of our policy in Spain,” Jose A de Ory told his guests who had gathered in the fine garden of his residence to celebrate the closing of the eigth edition of the Women International Film Festival.

Madeeha Raza was glad about the turn out at the Women International Film Festival that ran for a week.

This year the movies were screened at different locations throughout the week. The films were screened at Fatima Jinnah Women University, the Black Box Sounds, Alliance Française d’Islamabad and the Spanish ambassador’s residence.

“The festival started eight years ago and found support that kept growing,” Madeeha Raza said, adding that she was grateful for the best turn out this year and hoped that it would keep going.

Before the speeches, a 20-minute Pakistani short film by Eshah Shakeel and Haris Ahmed Khan titled Explicit was shown which depicted things going wrong for Barha after her friend leaked her private video. Feeling vulnerable and dejected, she navigated what constituted boundaries for being a “good woman” in our society.

Running 10 minutes, the Spanish film, The Barn, produced by Elisa Puerto Aubel, showed a stable in the middle of drought-scorched fields where a peasant ties and gags two politicians from opposite parties.

He wanted to know what they had done with the environment funds, but on a condition that only one politician would speak at a time.

The festival opened with two days of public screenings at the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).

This year’s edition had brought to Islamabad Spanish filmmaker Elena Molina to present her production titled, Remember My Name. The embassy congratulated Madeeha Raza for bringing together such talented women.

The festival was supported by the embassies of Spain, France and Germany, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the British Council.

With more than 1,300 submissions this year, the two-day event showcased 31 short and feature length films received from the UK, Iran, France, Germany, Ukraine, Spain, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Japan, Mexico, Italy, Canada, Chile, Turkey and Argentina, out of which five films made by Pakistani filmmakers, Hum Awaaz, Made with Love, Prolific Hustling and Woman of Courage were also showcased.

The festival’s organisers said over the years, the film festival had aimed to fill the gender gap in film and widen appreciation for independent cinema by creating a platform for diverse storytellers from all over the world. The overarching aim was to promote female filmmakers by building and uniting the next wave of talent and connecting the film community. It was evident that there was a need for more such opportunities for women to take their stories to the screen and share with the community, the organisers of the festival said.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2024

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