Gandhara Film Festival begins -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Gandhara Film Festival begins

By: Peerzada Salman

KARACHI: A decent variety of films were screened on the inaugural day of the two-day Gandhara Film Festival at the PACC auditorium on Friday.

The event opened with a short film ‘Heal’ by Mian Adnan Ahmed. The film has been shown at more than a dozen film festivals around the world. It tells the story of a child Azeem (Ameer Zhowandai) who lives in a conflict-ridden region somewhere between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a quaint little setting in a mountainous zone. In the beginning of the short movie, it is established that Azeem has a gift of ‘healing’ living beings. He runs into an injured goat and as he touches the animal to comfort it, it gets up as if nothing had happened to it.

The film progresses and Azeem’s family is shown. All of them appear to be peace-loving people with traditional values and a yearning for acquiring education. The school location has been used quite effectively in the film. Then catastrophe strikes and most of his family members fall victim to an attack. While it is not revealed as to what kind of attack it is, but sounds like an aerial raid. Azeem tries to heal a senior member of the family successfully and in the process loses his own life.

Though it is understandable that short films have their limitations, ‘Heal’ does not have the right kind of plot progression that the art of filmmaking requires in any format. It is a well-shot project nonetheless.

Prior to the screening of the film, one of the event organisers, Mehreen Kashif, told the audience about the background of the festival. She said filmmaking was an important art form and the festival was basically meant to provide young and amateur filmmakers with a chance to display their talent. Another organiser, Fasahat, said: “In the wake of events leading to worldwide protests against a film, we should’ve responded to that through our own films.”

Ms Kashif then thanked the festival jury comprising actor Talat Husain, writer Mohammad Ahmed and actor Rashid Sami for consenting to be part of the festival.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ahmed said the festival was one of the most organised events that he’d been to. Actor Husain said he’d seen some of the films that were being screened at the event and articulated that in order to succeed in any art form — painting, poetry, films, etc — it was important to have passion and madness.

Mr Sami echoed what Mr Husain had said and added that when he started to work in showbiz things were not as easy as they were now. “So young filmmakers should go out there and make films.” A workshop for aspiring filmmakers was held in the afternoon session in which films were shown and the audience was asked to critique them.

Short films were screened in the first part of the evening. It kicked off with an animated music video ‘Waadey’ made by Malik Gilani. It was an okay attempt at animation, but the song sounded quite listenable.

An international film ‘Project 11’ was next. It was conceived and produced by Vikas Chandra, directed by 11 directors from different parts of the world and was meant to be released on 11-11-11. Dubbed as an experimental flick, ‘Project 11’ is an attempt to merge the hi-tech world and the world that we live in. The Pakistani part of the story was shot in Khuzdar, Balochistan by Ali Brohi. The 11-minute film pivots around a mysterious game being played on the Internet that eventually kills the players through webcams.

Once the film was over, it generated a heated debate among the young audience. They hurled questions at Mr Brohi, some of which related to the ‘illogical’ aspect of the story, to which the director responded that it was an ‘experimental’ film therefore the makers were allowed to go wild with their imagination.

The last short film was a documentary titled ‘Displaced’ directed by Uzair Rao. It touched on the issue of Karachi’s street children most of whom become drug addicts or suffer abuse of different kinds. While the intention of the film was unquestionable, there was audio-visual monotony which marred the whole effort. It rested on interviews of the children and those who deal with them. The focus was on their ‘helplessness’ and on the fact that they belonged to the ‘suppressed’ segment of society, which took away some of the charm of the film. Also, the constant music, as if on a loop, had a jarring effect.

The last part of the day was dedicated to prime time feature films. Two films — ‘Story of Revolution’ and ‘Heer Ranjha’ — were on the list.

Dawn