The advocacy for and advancement of the careers of women working in the screen industries - in front of and behind the camera - to achieve parity and transform culture, is of utmost importance today. Primary reason behind the evolution has been the increase in the number of women, who are essential to the part of the filmmaking process. Women are vastly underrepresented as directors, writers, cinematographers, editors, and producers. If more awareness is brought to the need to increase representation in these areas, then change is more likely to occur.
Pushing this cause forward, 20 female filmmakers from Sindh and Baluchistan have been selected by Patakha Pictures, an initiative of SOC Films, to participate in the ‘Stories from Southern Pakistan’ funding and mentorship programme. Amounting to over PKR 1 Crore, this grant is funded by U.S Department of State and includes mentorship from U.S. and UK-based filmmakers.
Working in pairs, the filmmakers will be mentored by some of the most lauded global experts in the film industry to produce 10 short documentaries that reflect on and question their society on themes such as women’s empowerment, violence against women and minorities, arts, culture, climate change and peacebuilding. Furthermore, this is the first time women filmmakers from Baluchistan have been given such an opportunity to show and share their stories.
“We at U.S. Consulate Karachi congratulate the female participants selected for this programme. We hope they learn valuable skills in filmmaking and use their films as a platform for raising awareness on social issues, calling attention to the struggles of everyday people, challenging assumptions, and highlighting critical new ways of thinking. We firmly believe these filmmakers will play a vital role in inspiring new visions for Pakistan’s future, and we are excited to see what they produce,” said Consul General Nicole Theriot from the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.
Launched in partnership with Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and the U.S. Consulate General Karachi, international filmmakers brought in as mentors for the programme include Noé Mendelle (member of the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences, and Director of the Scottish Documentary Institute) and Jesse Ericka Epstein (Sundance Award-Winning documentary filmmaker, and VMA Affiliated Faculty, Emerson College). Participating filmmakers will join online practical documentary sessions over 8 months where they will explore documentary creativity for the international film festival market.
This initiative will empower and support a new generation of storytellers from Pakistan. By providing mentorship and funding, the programme encourages women to create films that push boundaries and start important conversations. - Faiza M