European cinema brings ‘diverse’ themes to capital – Newspaper

ISLAMABAD: Film buffs in the twin cities got the opportunity to experience European cinema once again at the Third European Film Festival (EUFF) 2024 at the Pakistan National Council of Arts on Wednesday.

The festival will now move to three more cities: Peshawar, Quetta and Gujrat between May 16 and 29. In Peshawar, it will be held on May 17 at Iqra National University; in Quetta it will be held at Noori Naseer Khan Cultural Complex on May 23 and the University of Gujrat will host it on May 29.

The 2024 edition of the EUFF in Pakistan showcases over 20 films produced by the member states of the European Union covering diverse genres, including comedy, thrillers, documentaries and fiction.

These films explore diverse themes, such as family, childhood, romance, friendship, climate change, history, war, economic hardship, human rights, disability, and more. Additionally, the festival features several equally exciting Pakistani short films by emerging filmmakers and studios.

Each film selected for the festival was carefully handpicked to cater to an audience with an appetite for stories with global appeal. The festival presents a unique opportunity for Pakistani audiences to rediscover Europe, its diversified culture, and modern and adaptive societies. The festival in Islamabad screened three feature-length and five short films from Europe, two Pakistani short films, and some more experimental works from Europe as installations.

Speaking to the media at the event, the EU ambassador to Pakistan, Dr Riina Kionka stated, “In the EU, we actively support filmmaking not only as an art form but also as a means to bring people together to address important social topics. We believe that good cinema plays an important social and political role – to contribute to a pluralistic society based on respect for others, as well as on equality and democratic decision-making. That’s why exchanges and discussions occupy a prominent place in the festival.”

The film screenings in Islamabad were followed by a dynamic panel discussion titled “Viewing the World through Films: The Importance of Gaining a Global Perspective.”

Moderated by Omar Khalid Butt, the panel included respected playwright Bee Gul, actor Sarwat Gilani, and rising star Ali Junejo.

Sharing her sentiments about the event, Sarwat Gilani said, “I believe film festivals such as the EUFF are important for any country, especially its youth, to put their culture and traditions into a visual narrative and tell that country’s story to the rest of the world. What I particularly love about European cinema is that it shows you the stark reality of the world as it is, unlike Hollywood which is shiny and squeaky. My two most favourite European films are ‘The Prophet’ and ‘Irreversible’. If I had to cast a Pakistani actor in a European film, it would be Sarmad Khoosat in ‘The Prophet’ and conversely, I would love to see Monica Belluci in Maula Jutt as Daro, originally played by Humaima Malik.”

The panel discussions, in each city, will bring the audiences face to face with some of the prominent names in the Pakistani film and television industry, including filmmakers, writers and actors.

Tazeen Hussain, Saim Sadiq, Tazeen Bari and Kanwal Khoosat will join the festival in Peshawar. Zafar Mairaj, Haya Fatima Iqbal and Dr Quratulain Bakhteari will participate in Quetta, while Irfan Khoosat, Tamkenat Mansoor and Faseeh Bari Khan will be present in Gujrat.

The festival also brings with it a master class titled, “Decoding European Cinema” by filmmaker Ali Junejo. The master class helps improve the understanding of world cinema and build the professional capacity of its participants. Other interesting features of the EUFF 2024 are interactive audiovisual installations and a range of food stalls. EUFF 2024 is open and free for the public.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2024

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