Despite the difficult political situation prevailing all across the country, with several parts of the city shut down due to protests, Karachi saw the hugely successful entertainment and production conference, Focus PK return to the city on the 25th and 26th of November.
Held this year at the Iqra University, the two-day conference brought many industry experts together to create dialogue and awareness regarding all issues pertinent to Pakistan’s now burgeoning entertainment industry. Focus PK also took time to recognize industry veterans for all their contributions to Pakistani cinema and television, as well as introduced the Film Market, which was a small film festival that showcased several short films from upcoming filmmakers.
The event was opened by an inaugural breakfast that recognized two icons of the industry, Imran Aslam, President of Jang Group who has a lifetime of literary achievements behind him, and Bushra Ansari, who is undoubtedly one of the most versatile actors in Pakistan. Both were awarded Icon of Industry Awards.
The first day of the event saw six sessions, some of which included Music: Then and Now, Talent Management – Rights of An Artist, Licensing and Censorship – The way forward, Film Making 101 - From Script to Screen, and the Lipton: Chotu Case Study which was about the Corporate sector joining hands with the social sector.
Since there were fewer sessions this year, the number of celebrity attendance was also lower. But the relevant experts were all present. Representing the Punjab Censor Board, Usman Peerzada, was present to give his insight on censorship and spoke about the hype and controversy around Verna’s struggle with the censor boards.
“We have certain ethics in our censor board. When we censor a picture and if there is a difference in opinion, it goes to the film court where through a voting system, they decide. On Verna, we didn’t find anything that needed to be censored. It just needed to have an adult certificate. We don’t understand why the media thought the movie needed to be banned,” he clarified.
In another session, filmmakers discussed the best strategies for upcoming films. Hameed Shaikh, who starred in the award winning film Moor, emphasized on the need for Pakistani films to create a niche of their own.
“The international market really appreciated Moor. We have to bring our thought process into this industry instead of copying international content.” Head of Marketing for Cinepax Cinemas, Mohsin Yaseen was also present during this session. “A director should make a film that would appeal to the masses and to not neglect digital monetization of the content. You should make a film that people like. People spend Rs. 600 on a ticket so the film has to be worth the money they are spending,” he pointed out.
Other famous faces present at Focus PK this year were Shehzad Roy, Ayesha Omar, Zhalay Sarhadi, Adeel Hussain and Rachel Viccaji, amongst others.
On the second day, two more icons were recognized by the conference: Samina Peerzada and Shoaib Mansoor. Focus PK also hosted the newest and most crucial addition to their audience: the Film Market. This segment was carried out like a film festival where eight short films were selected from students across Pakistan and were screened to the audience. Industry stalwarts Javed Jabbar, Angeline Malik and Samina Ahmed also attended the event to present awards to the selected filmmakers.
Many people worry for the future of the entertainment industry when thinking about the unpredictable political situation of the country, but the fact that an entertainment conference was taking place in full swing at a time where protests were being held in various parts of the city just proves that the show must and will always go on.