Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy talks to aspiring film-makers during the workshop on Wednesday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy talks to aspiring film-makers during the workshop on Wednesday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

With the aim of building exposure to world cinema, bringing international film-makers and their work to Pakistan and creating an interactive space to exchange ideas, the first Pakistan International Film Festival’s (PIFF) three-day workshop/master classes on film-making ended on Wednesday in which 30 students participated and were mentored by industry professionals on how to make short films.

This was the first leg of the festival being held under the patronage of Karachi Film Society (KFS) — “a non-profit organisation and parent body of the Pakistan International Film Festival (PIFF), founded by renowned producer/director Sultana Siddiqui”.

The PIFF aims to become the largest film festival in the country. It will incorporate workshops, mobile screenings, seminars, award ceremonies, and musical nights to provide Karachiites with a flavour of both local and international film industries.

Eman Syed, operations manager of the PIFF, spoke about how the festival was about taking films to the people. “The PIFF will conduct mobile screenings from March 2-4 of international and local films across the city at six venues and help engage audiences from all walks of life. This will bring global debates to Pakistan and help train and foster the craft in our film-makers.”

The six venues where films will be screened are Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Abdullah Haroon Community Centre, Khadda, Lyari, Memon Goth Community Hall, Malir, Iqra University, Dream Foundation Community Centre, Mowach Goth-Hub, and Szabist.

Ms Syed said that being taught by industry mentors and being exposed to new technology and practical experience of film-making, all the students who participated in the workshop greatly appreciated it.

“We have had plenty of one-off efforts in film-making, but the PIFF will help these efforts become long-term to educate and expose people to the art and craft of film-making.”

This in the long term will help train people on the ground dynamics of how to make a film, come up with amazing scripts and at the same time help minimise losses when making a film, she explained.

Some of the mentors who were part of the workshop included Oscar-winning film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, director Sarmad Khoosat and film editor Rizwan AQ.

Chinoy spoke to the participants in the workshop about challenges of making documentaries. “As a general rule there is no compensation, which is a global rule. You have to ask the ones you are basing your documentary on to sign on to being filmed, so that no one can turn around later and say that they did not know they were being filmed. As a film-maker, it is very important for you to document everything.”

She also discussed the importance of practising ethical and responsible film-making. “For instance, when shooting in a courtroom always take permission. When shooting in an area where local sensitivities may play a role, always have a local resident such as a journalist or activist to sensitise you in advance and is part of the team advising you.”

Khoosat recalled how during his youth he used to lament the lack of opportunities to learn the art and craft of film-making. The PIFF, he said, is a great initiative to help minimise this gap. He told workshop participants that “not only do you have access, but you also have the advantage of a digital revolution and with the number of facilities you have today, you have no excuse.

“Ideas are the foundation of any story. There is no such thing as a bad idea. It is how you execute it which makes all the difference.”

On March 7, The PIFF will also host a seminar to mark International Women’s Day and celebrate women in films.


Originally published in Dawn, March 1st, 2018

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