Pakistani films have gained a tremendous momentum in the last decade, so naturally, it isn’t a surprise that local filmmakers have now started to tap into festival circuits more than ever before. A recent example of this is the Vancouver International Film Festival, where three Pakistani documentaries have been selected for a screening this year.
Titled Invisible Line, Divide, and Armed with Faith, all three films delve into social subjects based in Pakistan. Whereas the former two are documentary shorts, the latter is a feature documentary made on the Pakistani bomb disposal unit by Asad Faruqi, whose work as a cinematographer include Oscar-winning documentaries, Saving Face and A Girl in the River.
Divide and Invisible Line were both part of an initiative by the Foundation for Arts, Culture & Education (FACE), in collaboration with The Humpty Dumpty Institute and The U.S. Embassy Pakistan, which took 15 filmmakers from across Pakistan to UCLA for a two weeks long filmmaking training last summer. On their return the groups were divided in five sub group and each group made a ten-minutes long film on a social issue of Pakistan.
Talking about his film, Divide – which focuses on a sectarian clash through a narrative of two neighbours co-existing in Gilgit before the violence that happened in 2011 – being selected, filmmaker Jamil Alvi said,
“The story is very close to me because I lived in Gilgit at the time when these clashes erupted and during that time I have lost friends who I grew up with.” Talking about the importance of the film, he added, “The message of coexistence is very important at this time in the world and it is important for us to advocate this message through any medium possible.”
While all three films have selected socio-cultural issues in Pakistan, Invisible Line delves deeper into the lack of a physical boundary in the sea between Pakistan and India, which has cruelly impacted the lives of fishermen and the families they leave behind when they get incarcerated for accidentally crossing borders.
Talking about Invisible Line, co-director Sourath Behan said,
“I got a chance to co-direct this film alongside two other Pakistani Filmmakers, Danial Shah & Shahnawaz Chachar. It’s a great feeling, but most importantly I’m glad that this issue is being highlighted through the medium of film, considering the number of familes it has affected.”
The Vancouver International Film Festival will run from September 28th to October 13th and will feature films from more than 70 countries.