Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pakistan Press Foundation

By Noman Ahmed

KARACHI: A pioneering film academy initiative of the country that came to a grinding halt last week is expected to open its gates once again but this ‘temporary arrangement’ will last only three weeks.

Into its fourth year, the South Asian Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Television (Saampt) was abruptly closed down on April 24 allegedly over issues between the partners on fewer admissions and low profits.

After the issue received media attention, Saampt executive director Azra Maqsood informed the students on April 28 via email that the board of directors have rescheduled their classes with faculty members for which a timetable will be emailed to them shortly.

“Last week Daniyal Ali Khan was terminated from his position as the dean because of mismanagement,” said Maqsood’s email, which she sent on behalf of the directors. Subsequently, the classes were disrupted but she assured them that operations will return to normalcy.

Meanwhile, a Drake University alumnus Maheen Zia was reportedly hired on a temporary basis to replace Daniyal. The Express Tribune has learnt that Zia had consented to help pick up classes from where they were left in order to complete the ongoing semester of 26 students.

The school set up an introductory meeting with Zia on Monday but a majority of the students decided to boycott the meeting. “The credentials and affiliations on which Saampt stands will be removed in the absence of the man who designed all the courses in collaboration with Columbia College Chicago and brought all the partnerships and experts, such as Chris Swider and William Gilcher on board,” pointed out Osman Rafiq, a final-year cinematography student. “Financial interests of the few have thwarted the passion of the academy’s students, who were on their way to changing the existing landscape of the media industry.”

Around eight students did, however, attend Monday’s meeting but came out disappointed. “The meeting was called to let us know that the ongoing spring semester will conclude after arranging classes for three weeks,” said one student, requesting anonymity. “After this, the school will not offer the summer semester.”

When the students demanded a guarantee that the fall semester will be offered, the management refused. Tooba Munif, who is daughter of one of the directors, Afzal Munif, said that the board of directors are trying to get other institutions in the loop for their credit transfers. “In other words, they have told us the academy will be closing down after three weeks,” complained the student.

For his part, Daniyal – whose termination led to the closure in the first place – insisted that he has not received a notification in writing. It will be a serious breach of contract, he said, adding that he will sue the directors. “There is no way they can get away with this,” he said.

Daniyal told The Express Tribune that the board of directors had unanimously agreed that there will be no modification in the memorandum of association in the first five years unless all the directors are on board.

Fired teacher vows to support students

Daniyal Ali Khan, who was allegedly fired by the remaining directors of Saampt, told The Express Tribune that he will make sure his students do not fail.

“I assure my students that I will honour my commitment to them and see to it that they come out successful,” he said. Daniyal, who taught at least four basic to advanced courses on 16MM film formats, claimed that hardly anybody can teach these courses in Pakistan.

“The much awaited first-ever Saampt final year thesis of students was to begin in May,” he said, adding that all the preparations were underway.

Source: The Express Tribune

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