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August 28, 2018

Scriptwriting fellowship holds pilot film market for its fellows


August 28, 2018

The Qalambaaz, the ongoing fellowship for specialized film scriptwriting, recently had its pilot film market at the ThotSpot in Karachi where fellows from its past four years met with current trending producers and distributors and prospective private investors to share stories, get feedback and sign up possible development deals.

A renowned film production company has partnered with Qalambaaz to launch a combined cash prize of 50,000 yearly for the winning pitch, invited all the fellows to meet for further discussion and development at their offices. Producers Fizza Ali Meerza of Filmwala Pictures with her movie Load Wedding and Satish Anand were joined by producer/art dealer Abid Aziz Merchant.

Qalambaaz’s mission has been to train carefully selected professional writers wanting to finish their screenplays by partnering them with international mentors for six months where the fellow and their mentor follow a strict calendar to complete their screenplays.

Past mentors have included international award-winning storytellers such as Sameer Asad Gardezi (Modern Family), Afia Nathaniel (Dukhtar), Amit Kumar (Monsoon Shootout) and Ivana Massetti (Nadro).

Many mentors and mentees have stayed connected past their fellowship year. A constant mentor on the ground in Pakistan is Framji Minwalla, who conducts film structure and theory session with the fellows from his Karachi office.

“Qalambaaz was launched with the vision of producing 50 writers in 10 years to be absorbed by the Pakistani film industry and we are almost half way there”, says Founder Iram Parveen Bilal. “The idea was that since this is only meant for those who work in Pakistan, we could affect the film industry by infusing writers who have knowledge, structure and training in how layered and demanding a good script needs to be.”

So far, out of Qalambaaz’s 20 fellows, some are writing for TV, and some have been hired to write films and make films. Others are Fulbright fellows pursuing further education and training in scriptwriting, a lifelong learning process.

For the film market, this year’s winning pitches were given cash prizes. Hamza Bangash for his idea “Sofiya Ki Shaadi” bagged the first prize and the second prize was shared by members of the current class of fellows, between Eshah Shakeel and Shireen Khan, for their stories ‘Missing’ and ‘Dome’ respectively

Hamza is also headed to the prestigious Locarno film festival for the screening of one of his short films. Past fellows Taha Sheikh and Fahad Naveed are Fulbright fellows in Writing for Screen and Stage in Northwerstern University and News and Documentary at New York University respectively. Izhar Kakar is slated to direct his debut feature film in Balochistan this next year.

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