KaraFilm festival: Informative, thought-provoking films mark third day

Saturday, February 07, 2009
By our correspondent


The third day of the Kara Film Festival saw a flurry of activity with a screening of 11 films, seven short ones, two documentaries, and two feature films.

Within the short films section was the 48-minute local film, “Gurmukh Singh ki Wasiyat” (Gurmukh Sigh’s Will). Based on a short story by Saadat Hasan Minto, written and directed by Sharjeel Baloch, the story is set in Amritsar during Partition, and depicts the accompanying riots.

The film is centred around the family of a retired Muslim judge, Mian Saheb. Muslim families of the area migrate to Pakistan or leave to seek refuge, and Mian Saheb has great trust in his dear friend, Gurmukh Singh, a revered area elder.

While Gurmukh Singh’s son honours his father’s will to bring sweet vermicelli on Eid to the Muslim household, he remains powerless to prevent his peers from burning and looting.

Afterwards, Sharjeel thanked his crew and the actors who put in a lot of effort, shooting the film within five days at Kotri. He was thankful to the people of Kotri who welcomed the crew warmly in to their homes, many of which last from the pre-Partition era, thus giving an air of authenticity to the scenes and bringing alive the past.

The second documentary, a BBC production for their Planet Earth series, was about snow leopards in Chitral, NWFP. The unique aspect of this production is the visual documentation of the behaviour of the snow leopards on the steep mountains. Narrated by renowned wildlife documentary maker, Sir David Attenborough, the celestial beauty of snow-decked valleys, and the engaging delivery of Sir Attenborough drew the audience’s rapt attention.

Nisar Malik, veteran journalist and filmmaker, who was commissioned to seek out and film the rare beast, was also present at Friday’s screening. He said that within four years of shooting, they saw only four snow leopards.

Responding to a question about whether the documentary might further endanger the animal for hunters and poachers, Malik said that during their four years, they exposed numerous instances of trophy poaching and illegal hunting in the land of the Markhor. The authorities, however, turned a blind eye, he said.

Unfortunately, the only way Pakistanis will be able to see the documentary is either on BBC or on the Indian Discovery channel in Hindi, as none of the channels in Pakistan was willing to screen it, not even PTV.


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