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Tuesday June 18, 2024

Across borders

By our correspondents
August 27, 2017

Pakistan has sought the help of neighbouring Iran to set up its National Broadcasting and Film Commission in order to revive films in Pakistan, where there has been a struggle over many decades to produce quality material that can attract global audiences. In a recent meeting with the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan, Information Minister Marriyam Aurangzeb discussed possible collaboration and assistance from Iran. Certainly, Iran sets an outstanding example of what can be achieved through film and how it is possible to produce material at the highest quality, with strong social and political messages even in trying political times and with the many restrictions that limit cultural freedoms in Iran or impose specific codes for behavior and dress on women and also other groups. Despite all this, Iranian giants of film such as Majid Majidi and Asghar Farhadi have won award after award at international film festivals including the Oscars, the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Bear and at other equally prestigious events for their simple, soul-moving films, often produced on low budgets.

If Pakistan could learn from the Iranian example, its film industry could be placed in a position where it is able to play a useful part in society. Iranian audiences who watch the films in large numbers have developed the sensitivity and sophistication to learn from the messages sent out by persons who struggle against economic odds, family problems, and oppression of various kinds. Good Pakistani films could play a similar role, given the commonalities we share with Iran. The gap between the quality of filmmaking in Iran and Pakistan remains vast. Perhaps a collaborative effort involving visits across the border or workshops run by Iranian professionals in Pakistan would help our filmmakers move beyond their present vision and develop cinema into the art form it deserves to be – holding enormous power over the minds and emotions of people everywhere.