Pakistan to submit entry for Oscars after 50 years

PTI Islamabad | Updated on November 23, 2017 Published on August 03, 2013

Pakistan will submit an entry for the foreign language film category of the Oscar awards after a gap of five decades though a committee has not yet chosen the movie.

Chairing the committee is Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who became Pakistan’s first Oscar winner for co-directing the 2011 documentary ‘Saving Face’, which was about the survivors of acid attacks.

Other members of the panel are writer Mohsin Hamid (’The Reluctant Fundamentalist’), director Mehreen Jabbar (’Ramchand Pakistani’), actor Rahat Kazmi, filmmaker Akifa Mian, Samina Peerzada and arts academic Framji Minwalla, Variety reported.

Pakistan has sent only two films to the Academy Awards since the foreign language film category was created in 1956 — Akhtar Kardar’s ‘Jago Hua Savera’ in 1959 and Khwaja Khurshid Anwar’s ‘Ghunghat’ in 1963.

Each country is allowed one submission and it can decide how the film is chosen. The Pakistan committee was formed independently and its existence has been kept quiet, with the government having no role but apparently giving its okay.

The deadline for submissions in the foreign language film category is October 1.

The Pakistani committee will have enough films to choose from, as after a few dormant years, the country’s film industry is enjoying a revival, with 21 releases so far this year.

There is no stated government policy against Oscar participation in Pakistan but the issue seems to have been a “low priority” because of political turmoil and a “general lack of precedence within the film establishment”, Variety reported.

British—Pakistani director Hammad Khan, whose debut feature ‘Slackistan’ was banned in Pakistan, said: “Pakistan has not officially submitted any films for the Academy Awards consideration in 50 years because the state has never taken film seriously, neither as a cultural art form nor as a valuable communal experience.

“In all those years, Pakistan has been so preoccupied with coups, wars and religion that cinema has only been reduced to low entertainment by the powers—that—be. It is, of course, monumentally idiotic to ignore the power of cinema in the development of any nation’s narrative.”

Published on August 03, 2013
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