Talking movies

Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

Napa x GIFF 2022 concludes after two days

Gandhara International Film Festival (GIFF) – in its third edition – collaborated with NAPA for a two-day festival in Karachi. Instep presents the lowdown from day one.

Maheen Sabeeh

Karachi:This past weekend as the Napa x GIFF 2022 festival closed in Karachi, it did so after showcasing around 15 films in various formats.

The festival succeeded in giving cinema enthusiasts as well as industry insiders something we share in common and cherish: a platform for unique films. Without such film festivals, a bundle of these films wouldn’t be exposed to a developing cinema industry in Pakistan.

Divided over Saturday and Sunday and held against the picturesque Hindu Gymkhana, home to NAPA, the variety showcased included film screenings, filmmaker’s session, panel discussions and workshops.

A riveted audience watched a slew of short films from different countries, each leaving a mark while changing the mood and offering a flavour of filmmaking from other countries.

On day one, apart from dynamic shorts where emotion ran high and each short was restricted to certain minutes, other formats of filmmaking also found a place.

Among major attractions was the screening of The Journey Within, an award-winning music documentary by Mian Adnan Ahmad that tells the origin story of Coke Studio. Artists as diverse as Tina Sani, Jamal Shah, Meesha Shafi, Saeen Zahoor, Omran Shafique among many others feature and shared their views. The music-docu juxtaposes its conversations against an ablaze Pakistan with terrorist attacks, uncertainty at an all-time high and the identity of the country in question.

The idea behind the series, as envisioned by music producer Rohail Hyatt, is palpable and we are reintroduced to the cause that drove Coke Studio when it was starting out. Nationalism, it seems, had seeped into production as it challenged preconceived notion and the popular narrative about how there was nothing positive about Pakistan.

That, the audience had the rare chance to watch the music-documentary on Pakistan’s biggest music series, is a plus for the festival because it allowed, through the screening, a chance to revisit the past in how it was a recurring effort in flipping the narrative, both consciously and instinctively. The series also set standards in production, never seen before.

Day one of GIFF x Napa 2022 didn’t ride on the coattails of the Coke Studio documentary, though. Among other things, a panel on restructuring Pakistani cinema was both a highlight and an oxymoronic since this discussion has been around for years and no solution has actually emerged, forget enforcement.

Moderated by film critic Omair Alavi, the panel included the likes of Sabiha Sumar, Khalid Anum, Faris Khalid, and Ehteshamuddin.

Sumar, at one point, rightly noted: “I can offer one series, someone else can offer another but how will we build a consistent base? We just want to get back to 2001 where we started with 22 head of departments from abroad. And then after all the training that had taken place and we had built a school, and were two weeks away from our shoot, 9/11 happened. All non-essential foreign staff had to go back. We lost a heck of a lot of money and there was no insurance, recovery and we had to wrap up.”

Though in 2022, the task was finished, she did note how making any film is an uplift task so every film that is made is respected by the filmmaker.

Day one was a roaring success, which means people are interested not only in films but the business of films and how to go about making one in a country that is seen with skeptical eyes abroad and has no real infrastructure within the country. The end.