With Pakistani cinema striving to make a mark both nationally and internationally, it is inspiring to see local films making it big on global fronts. Recent past has seen multiple Pakistani films going places and winning awards at various international film festivals. The newest addition to the list is the SCO Film Festival in Qingdao where the Syra Shahroz-starrer Chalay Thay Saath and Mehwish Hayat and Humayun Saeed starrer Punjab Nahi Jaungi were screened and also brought an award home.
While generally our films are released in Pakistan first before making their way to international film festivals, there have been some (such as Saawan) that launched in Pakistan after winning big internationally. The most recent example in this regard is feature film Gumm that has been written and directed by Ammar Lasani and Kanza Zia, who have studied film from New York Film Academy, Los Angeles.
Gumm is the only Pakistani film till date to have been recognized at so many international film festivals that have taken place across the globe. Not only that, the film has also won multiple awards aside from several nominations in different categories. Starring Sami Khan, Shamoon Abbasi and Shameen Khan in key roles, Gumm is an action thriller and is all set to release across Pakistan sometime around August or September, this year.
Speaking about taking the film to international festivals prior to releasing it in Pakistan, Ammar Lasani, co-director of Gumm, told Instep, “Being foreign film graduates, Kanza and I have an international perspective on films. We knew how important and tough it is going to be to compete internationally. This was our first feature film and we were confident that it has potential to impress international critics and jury.”
“Pakistan’s film industry is in its reviving years and we feel it’s about time our industry has a representation in the international market as well,” Kanza Zia, who has co-directed the film with Ammar, added.
When asked what the film is about and if they feel there is a market for such films in Pakistan, Kanza responded, “Filmmakers in Pakistan are experimenting with different genres at the moment and the action thriller genre hasn’t been explored here much. Gumm is an action thriller and is about the struggle of a person (Sami Khan) who wakes up in the middle of nowhere and has no recollection of his past. And then he has to face the consequences of the actions he had taken that he doesn’t even remember. He is interlinked with another person, essayed by Shamoon Abbasi, by a series of unfortunate events.”
“I believe there is a huge market for action thrillers in Pakistan,” Ammar observed. “And most importantly, the major area where Pakistani film industry lacks at present is good storytelling. If a story is good and convincing, chances are that the film will do well and we are very confident about our product. Every aspect associated with it, whether it is sound, shoot, script or production, it is up to the mark and we haven’t compromised on anything. Gumm will engage viewers at every level.”
They also informed that Gumm isn’t an art film but is a complete commercial film that won accolades at multiple festivals. It bagged two awards, Best Screenplay and Best Editor, at the Lake View International Film Festival in India while it won the Best Screenplay and Best Director trophies at the London City International Film Festival in London, UK. Also, Sami Khan, who stars in the film, was honoured with the Best Actor award at the Creation International Film Festival in Canada.
The film has been officially selected at eight festivals including AAB International Film Festival (India), CKF International Film Festival (UK), Creation International Film Festival (Canada), Festigious International Film Festival (Los Angeles, USA), London City International Film Festival (UK), Lake View International Film Festival (India), Eurasia International Film Festival (Moscow, Russia) and Madrid Asia International Film Festival (Spain).
Produced by Shakeel Anjum, Gumm is almost two hours long. Presently, the film has been nominated in four categories at the Madrid Asia International Film Festival which is scheduled to take place next month.