Thursday December 02, 2021

Film promotional activities at PNCA during lockdown

By Aijaz Gul
May 04, 2020

Islamabad : The idea of holding Digital Short Film Competition originated from Dr. Fouzia Saeed, Director General PNCA (Pakistan National Council of the Arts). In lockdown when things had been pretty much at standstill, it was time to move on with film promotional and development activities. After closure of National Film Development Corporation, PNCA was given NAFDEC’s charter of activities. Film was now high on PNCA agenda along with Music, Performing Arts, Visual Arts and other cultural activities.

Organized by PNCA, National Heritage and Culture Division, “Homebound" under Corona Virus Lockdown was the theme of this short film festival. Overwhelming response was received from enthusiastic young and upcoming filmmakers from all over Pakistan.

In all, 143 films were received by PNCA and these latest cinematic jewels were unspooled for the jury. There is no doubt that the task of selecting the winners was difficult. However, the jury did invest ample time in assessing the technics of short film in Digital format in all genre ranging from Documentary to Fiction to Musicals in Live Action as well as Animation.

After consulting professional filmmakers, the jury comprising of Dr. Fouzia Saeed (DG, PNCA), Hassan Hayat Khan (Producer, TV), Asmara Shafaq (Coordinator, PNCA) and Aijaz Gul (Film Critic) finally selected the winners for this competition. The names of winners were announced on 28th April by Education, National Heritage and Culture Minister Mr. Shafqat Mehmood and Dr. Fouzia Saeed.

The winners and their films titles included 1st Prize was awarded to Safeerullah & Amir Ali for their film #Quarantine while Second Prize winners were Faraz Ali for Lockdown and Mansoor Nazir for I Forgot!, third prize went to Fareena Aslam for Homebound and Muhammad Ali Nadeem for- Homebound (Animation). The consolation prize winners were Abdul Qadir Roonjah -- Mera Ghar Meri Jannat, Muhammad Shahzaib- Quarantine Life and Babar Mangi-Corona Vaccine.

Special recognition awards were awarded in other category to Habibullah Gancevi and Zafeer Butt- Behind the Camera, M. Yaruq Faisal- Rue, Maria Rana- Cold Mess- Shadow Dance, Shahzaib Butt- film on Nikkah Rights and Faysal Khan Elahi- Fruit Salad.

The reason for holding this event was obvious: to provide a platform for upcoming filmmakers under lockdown. No subject could be more appropriate than "Homebound" for this film competition. It was amazing to see 143 films on the homebound themes or around it, filmed mostly on cell phone both in colour and Black/ White. This came as witness to the fact that young generation was not oblivious to their cinematic talent, craft and imagination even under lockdown.

Given a chance and opportunity, this young generation of filmmakers can do what has not been done before in bringing Pakistan on the world map of Short Films, both documentary and faction. Today when heavy and expensive 35 mm cameras from analog era are behind us, filmmakers can make digital films on their cell phones without film laboratory processing and developing and get them electronically sub-titled for film festivals and foreign markets. Short Digital Film Competitions is the best way to promote this realistic and affordable cinema. More such festivals can give exposure to filmmakers beyond our geographical boundaries.

Dr. Fouzia Saeed also went ahead and arranged Zoom Conference of Minister with notable film directors and actors. Syed Noor, Nadeem Baig, Sarmad Khoosat, Saqib Malik and Mehwish Hayat were part of the zoom encounter with the Minister. Issues ranging from government patronage to film trade to severe shortage of cinemas (around 175 screens for a bulging population of over 200 million), to transition of filmmaking from Analog (35 mm) to now digital and training came under discussion.

Fouzia Saeed taking part in the zoom informed the members of film trade about proposed National Film Academy for training and grooming present and upcoming filmmakers. The Minister informed that basics to launch National Film Academy were already underway where training both in film theory (script, history, analysis, criticism and appreciation) as well as practical (camera, sound, editing, production design and sound effects) would be given with screening of relevant films.