Monday July 15, 2024

Three short films by emerging filmmakers screened

By Zoya Anwer
November 19, 2018

People flocking to cinema on Sunday morning when a blockbuster is not being screened is quite unimaginable in Karachi but the Sunday Matinees, an initiative of Goethe-Insitut Pakistan, was able to achieve that.

Although it was not a full house, yet there were a large number of attendees at Capri Cinema to encourage new Pakistani filmmakers by watching their three short films along with a German film, ‘Fitzcarraldo’. The Pakistani filmmakers had produced their films under the sponsorship of Goethe and Prince Claus Fund.

The short films screened were ‘Ghungroo’ by Ali Rizvi, ‘Dhamaal: the awaited prayer’ by Khurram Nawaz Sheikh and ‘Song of the Markhor’ by Ali Alif. The film ‘Dhamaal’ was about a famous Sufi shrine of Shah Jamal in Lahore where the devotees and the shrine’s caregiver waited for Thursdays to witness a Dhamaal which caused people to enter into a trance. However, following the tragic blast in Sehwan that targeted the dhamaal at Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine, a ban was imposed on the dhamaal at Shah Jamal’s shrine owing to security reasons.

The film showed how one of the dhol players felt unease after the ban as despite being able to sustain his life, he had an urge to perform at the Dhamaal. After almost a year, the devotees tried to have the Dhamaal at the shrine again but a few minutes into the act, the electricity went out and police officials did not only halt the dhamaal but also dragged the caretakers out to beat them. Interestingly enough, the dhamaal at the Sehwan shrine continued within a week after the blast but other Sufi places are yet to return to their original routines.

The second film by Ali Rizvi, who was also present at the screening, was about a dancer named Daud who continued to challenge the stereotypical toxic masculinity by wearing ghungroos to sway.

The film also showed that despite getting support from his family, Daud faced criticism from society, had to face derogatory language and was even called a person from the transgender community. Despite all this, Daud remained steadfast and now he not only dances for himself but also teaches dance to young people who come to learn from him.

Speaking about the idea of the film, Rizvi shared that he had been greatly interested in the art form of dance and felt that due to a stigma attached to it, many avoid pursuing it considering it futile and unacceptable to society.

“I find the aesthetics of dance very beautiful and I think it should be immensely respected as a form of art. I have known Daud for quite some time. My previous work has been about public health as well as gender so I wanted to throw light on it especially as to how a man is promoting dance by performing it,” he said.

Referring to a character in his film of an unnamed young man who wears a mask to dance, Rizvi shared that he had to cross many sociocultural barriers to be able to dance. “I wanted to include him [without mask] but he feared consequences if his face was shown. One day he joked that he could wear a mask, and it hit me that I could use a masquerading mask which would allow him to be a part of the film,” Rizvi explained.

Rizvi lamented that the state did not facilitate emerging filmmakers. There should be provisions for emerging filmmakers because producing a film demands a lot of money, he said.

The third film, ‘Song of the Markhor’, was based on a few hunters who are waiting for the right time to hunt a markhor, the national animal of Pakistan. The film ends on a haunting song about a markhor and its calf as to how the calf is uneasy about the approaching hunter but the mother keeps pacifying it, only to die leaving its calf all alone. The film makes one ponder about the naivety of animals as well as the entire idea of hunting as a sport.

The next screening would be held at Capri Cinema on December 9 in which Sabiha Sumar’s ‘Khamosh Paani’ would be shown.