The Sindh Film Festival: a good first attempt
KARACHI: The Sindh Film Festival (SFF), a part of the Sindh Culture Festival currently taking place in Karachi, ended on Tuesday at the Nueplex Cinemas after running for two days. While a number of high profile members of the film fraternity and the entertainment industry visited the festival, it was the presence of veteran actor Shabana Azmi that stole the limelight. She visited the festival venue on the first day of screenings and appreciated the efforts put in by the organisers and the fact that a variety of international films were being screened at the festival. Azmi and critically acclaimed Indian film-maker Onir were part of the jury at the film festival. The festival was organised in partnership with Raindance Film festival (in association with The International Film Trust), which is one of the largest festivals of independent film-making in Europe.
A total of 52 films were screened over a period of two days and the line-up included both independent films and major studio releases from all across the world. Most short films were made by students from well-known film schools, such as the London Film School. Screened feature films included Lootera from Bollywood. There were only a handful of Pakistani films, most of which have already been released in cinemas. They included Seedlings, Waar, Zinda Bhaag and Josh.
Hammad Khan’s highly anticipated Anima State premiered on Day 2 of the SFF, but didn’t draw the audience it should have. Due to the awkward screening time (4.30pm) and a lack of word of mouth, only 17 people attended the premiere.
Mazhar Zaidi, the producer of Zinda Bhaag, who has also previously curated the Mateela Film Festival in Lahore, considered this a great opportunity for film-makers.
“I think it’s a great initiative by organisers and an even bigger learning experience for film-makers and students,” said Zaidi. The producer spoke to The Express Tribune as he was getting ready for his film’s screening at the festival.
“After Kara Film Festival was halted, there was a big vacuum left to be filled and this could prove to be the right avenue for that,” said Zaidi.
“However, I must say that film festivals are judged by their age and it will all depend on how frequently they can pull off such an event. It has to bigger, better and more organised next year.”
The overall turnout at the SFF wasn’t as high as expected. The handful of people who came to watch the films blamed working hours and the location of the venue, as Nueplex is far from the centre of the city. The sessions where Pakistani films were screened had both stronger attendance and response, with the maximum public seen at the Zinda Bhaag show, which was also followed by a question-and-answer session with makers of the film.
Festival organisers were unavailable to comment on the film selection process along with their picks. However, some participants revealed that the five best films will go on to compete at the Raindance Film Festival.
All in all, the film festival managed to screen diverse styles and genres of cinema, making it a fruitful experience for the handful of film enthusiasts who attended most of the sessions.