A week-long Iranian film festival kicked off on Wednesday at the Iranian Cultural Centre, opening up to Pakistani audiences an unfamiliar world.
Different Iranian productions, internationally acclaimed, are set to be screened at the cultural centre to allow a more meaningful exchange between the two countries. All the movies instead of having subtitles were dubbed into Urdu.
The chief guest at the festival was actor Javed Sheikh who expressed his desire to see cultural exchanges between Iran and Pakistan, especially in the film world, which is a sure-shot way to improve bilateral ties between the two countries.
The language barrier can be a deterrent for people to watch such movies, and the decision to dub the movies rather than include subtitles was a good idea, the senior actor observed. In this way, just like audiences were drawn to Turkish dramas dubbed in Urdu, they would also enjoy watching Iranian films.
Mr Sheikh even hoped he could at some point in his career work in an Iranian film.
“Iran is an example where the government did not shut down the film industry but instead encouraged it to pick up meaningful themes and still keep Islam in view when making films,” he said.
The director general of the Iranian Cultural Centre, Dr Raza Baqri, spoke about how social causes and the battles of real life are usually the premise of most Iranian films, which is a clear departure from most film industries around the world. Not only are the stories of a superior quality, but so is the execution which is why the Iranian film industry in being recognised the world over and winning accolades.
He explained the evolution of Iranian cinema before and after the Islamic Revolution.
“Before the revolution most of the movies featured a lot of violence, misbehaviour against and misuse of women, and other immoralities. However, after the revolution the government encouraged and guided the film industry to honour human society by making films about morality, cultural commitments, and the human community. This was the new Iranian cinema.”
The first film shown was The Willow Tree which is about Youssef, a man blinded in a fireworks accident as a young child.
The film festival will continue till Feb 18, from 3pm to 6pm.
Originally published in Dawn, February 15th, 2018