Below, Yawar Herekar, a Karachi-based consultant and blogger at Yawar’s Blog reviews the city’s Karafilm Festival – an international film fest that showcases a range of movies from around the world. According to the Festival’s official website, its goal is “to promote an appreciation of the art and craft of filmmaking among a wide population as well as to encourage creativity and high standards among filmmakers.” Yawar discusses his experience at the film fest and his thoughts on its overarching significance:
When my brother called me up to ask me if I wanted to go to the opening ceremony of the KaraFilm Festival the next day, I jumped at the chance. The KaraFilm Festival is an international film festival that takes place in Karachi and though I’ve never attended it before, quite a few of my Spike Lee-inspired wannabe- director friends have submitted short movies for selection to Kara over the years. From their mouths and this being the only showcase of movies in Karachi, I had heard a lot about KaraFilm and so eagerly looked forward to attending it.
Like other film festivals important to the cities they’re held in, KaraFilm is important to preserve and revitalize cinema culture and the movie-going tradition that Karachi and Pakistan on a whole is fast losing, if not lost altogether. The festival has been going on for the past seven years but had not taken place over the last two years because of the security situation in Karachi and because of financial cutbacks.
To have an international film festival with the participation of people from all over the world is a must but with travel advisories and security warnings about traveling to Pakistan on the rise, it has become very hard to attract tourists. To compound this problem, one of KaraFilm’s major sponsors was hard hit by the recession and subsequently pulled out at the very end. Last-minute appeals for donations were made to make sure that finances for the Festival were sufficient. Thanks to all those involved and people coming together, Kara is taking place once again.
Kara goes on for twelve days and shows over 200 shorts, documentaries and feature films. It includes names such as Kung Fu Panda and Enchanted for children, ABBA-inspired Mamma Mia and Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, Santouri and Baz Ham Sib Dari (Iranian) and Khuda Kay Liye [see related CHUP post on the film], Ramchand Pakistani [see CHUP's previous interview with the film's director] and Pakistan’s first horror film Zibahkhana [see CHUP'a related post on the movie] for those looking for rebirth of local Pakistani cinema.
The venue is the Arts Council and the Festival is supported both by the city as well as the provincial government. Keeping in mind that it is a public institution, the facilities at the Council are superb with relatively clean public bathrooms, a small café to serve up food to the moviegoers and a large screen with a seating capacity of almost 500 people.
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend screenings so far of Galantuomini (Italian), Beynilmilel (Turkish), Burns Road Ki Nilofer (Pakistan), Victoria Ka Ticket (Pakistan) and Adventures to Hingol(Pakistan). I can vouch that the movies are splendid and worth watching. The audience has been terrific as well and it makes one glad that such an event is possible in our own backyard.
All in all, after attending the opening ceremony and the subsequent film showings, I’ve realized that there are enough moderate, well-intentioned, progressive Pakistanis out there who can really make a difference. We should take pointers from our larger neighbor, which has used its Bollywood industry to attract people from all over the world and project the image of India as a country of song and dance. Pakistan needs to harness the same power and KaraFilm is a giant step in that direction.
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