The world might not know it yet, but Pakistan with its vibrant and energetic youth is ready to make its mark on the global map. However, as we all know, this land of ours full of opportunities, possessing rich cultural values, heritage, traditions and a prolific ancient history is not being properly showcased to the world. There are so many stories to tell but unfortunately they get buried under negative optics of socio-political disruptions that we are often caught up in. Therefore, to address this issue the National Amateur Short Film Festival (NASFF) was conceived in November 2020, as a joint initiative of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and ISPR, so that the talent and creativity of the Pakistani youth could be appropriately harnessed. The platform targets students who choose Film and TV production, and Mass Media Communication as their professional careers, and has since garnered the attention of thousands of aspiring film makers.
The project aims at seeking domestic ingenuity and creativity leading to capacity building of emerging Pakistani filmmakers and proliferating social media platforms with positive content on Pakistan.
To initiate the efforts, NASFF invited film submissions on six different sub-themes based on life, history, people, agriculture and entrepreneurship in the country. Under extreme COVID restrictions, webinars and university sessions were conducted with the brand ambassadors of the festival playing an inspirational role for the youth. This year Maya Ali, Hareem Farooq, Bilal Ashraf and Ahmed Ali Akbar have also joined the group of NASFF brand ambassadors.
A jury of renowned experts in film making shortlisted the submissions consisting of unique and heart-warming perspectives of Pakistan. The Grand Finale of the event was held on June 26, 2021, graced by the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, as the chief guest. Top 15 high achievers of NASFF-21 were awarded a scholarship to attend a one-year filmmaking diploma course from the Australian campus of the renowned New York Film Academy.
The scholarship holders belong to different regions of the country and are a testament to the fact that there is no dearth of talent in Pakistan. These young men and women will return to inject the media industry with a fresh outlook and a more contemporary attitude.
A very healthy number of 1100+ entries were received from 72 different educational institutes of Pakistan, as well as professional and mobile phone submissions. Such a wide array of submissions no doubt lent credibility to the word ‘festival’, making up a cornucopia of colors, diversity and resilience, that is Pakistan.
NASFF-2021 Winners Profiles
Mariam Hassan Naqvi (GCU, Lahore)
The film ‘The Disgustful’ explores a unique story of a garbage collector, Shareef Maseeh, who takes immense pride in his work of serving his community and his country. Shareef has been collecting garbage, doing all sorts of sanitary works and cleaning the streets of Lahore for the past 35 years. He is still strong and consistent in his duty.
Roohi Kashfi, Parachinar (NCA, Lahore)
This documentary is primarily about cottage industry of wicker work in furniture design. It is the collaboration of the product designers and the local wicker workers to save and preserve the art and craft of wicker weaving and empower the families involved.
Saqlain Abbas (Karakoram Intl Univ, GB)
Glacier Grafting is an indigenous water resource management practice in Gilgit-Baltistan. Using this method, artificial glaciers have been transplanted in the past. This film encompasses showcasing Pakistan, with a view to enable any expat to formally introduce our country to the world.
Yawar Shah (Univ of Lahore) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGXHnwT6THM&t=12s
The documentary is about a philanthropic organization known as Aalam Bibi Trust and its impact on the society as a whole. Because of her efforts, many children are now back to school.
Aqeedat Chishti (Kinnaird College for Women Univ, Lhr) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSiXdAUHy4
Pakistan’s culture and society have been significantly influenced by diverse ethnic groups living in the country. Pathani, a lively and kind-hearted girl reveals rural life through her perspective and uncovers unique, albeit beautiful realities about her area.
Hamza Bin Iftikhar (BNU, Lahore) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9aazKpYq5A
This documentary deals with cottage industry. This film’s story is about four poor jewelry-making girls, who work at a jewelry shop. They come across a contest and decide to take part because the contest is about unique jewelry designs. In the end, they win the competition by using handmade jewelry.
Vishal Kodwani (Iqra University, Karachi) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6ylUzgnh3I
This documentary is primarily based on the life of a truck driver. The film emphasizes on the lack of opportunities for their skills and the race against time, making them drive rash at times to reach their destination.
Eman Munir (IOBM, Karachi) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz4KcIzctGs
This documentary is about cottage industry of bangle making. The bangle industry has a large women labor force. It is important that struggles and stories of these people are brought to light. The film highlights these underrated dimensions.
Haris Latif (Madrasatul Islam University, Kci) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyEihkMuWEY
This film is a presentation of Pakistan with a view to enable any expat to formally introduce our country to the viewers. ‘Magic Hands’ is about a truck artist, Haider Ali. He has showcased his art to worldwide recognition and made Pakistan’s name shine through the magic of his hands.
Huzaifa Ahmed (SZABIST, Kci) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR97QtTsJdI
‘Kaptaan’ is a documentary revolving around the journey of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and the efforts of its founder, Mr. Imran Khan, (Ex PM/Cricketer).
Syeda Aleen Rizvi (National College of Arts, Lahore) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCaLmODmOHw
The story of this documentary focuses on life behind the hundred-years-old walls of Zaidi Studios. Photographer, Shahid Zaidi, quietly breathes life into our rich history and revives what is lost in time. It encompasses presentation of Pakistan, with a view to enable any expat to formally introduce Pakistan to the world.
Shahzaib Ali (BNU, Lahore) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--glZ0vp-s8
Pakistani identity has always had a paradoxical relationship with its heritage. This documentary endeavors to link back the Pakistani identity to the Indus Valley civilization, highlighting that how it is different from those living in plains of Ganges.
Irfan Noor (Univ of Art, Design & Heritage, Jamshoro) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4w0-epQAB0
It is an independent short documentary (travel) film. In the wake of political instability and negative projection of the Province (Balochistan), the tourism in the area is getting adversely affected. This is a beautifully conceived attempt to showcase the richness of Balochistan, a place, which is much safer for tourists and its natives as one of the most hospitable people in the world.
Aamir Khan Millizai (NCA, Lhr) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sElE_BfQ67s
‘Safarnama’ is about a man in his 20s, who is asked to attend a seminar in Quetta by his employer. He is reluctant at first, but afterwards as he misses his flight and decides to go by road, he discovers the colors of Pakistan on his way that changes his perception of life.
Osama Hussain Chaudry (NCA, Lhr) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z0rL3VZWLg
Pakistan, a country with its diverse multicolored fabric is stitched together by faith, peace and hope for the future. ‘Sasanity’ is the story of a boy, who hides small things from his family. In the film, a family dinner becomes tense after the young boy chooses to keep a little secret.
NASFF – 22
2022 marks the year Pakistan celebrates its diamond jubilee. And accordingly, NASFF-22 has been planned on a grander, more striking scale. One central theme has already been launched, being kept simple and central: Ocean to Mountains. The intent is to encourage maximum film makers to participate and project the potential of tourism that our country has. The films this year are expected to draw the attention of tourists towards the matchless marvel, Pakistan. Entries for registration are expected by 15th of June with final submissions by July 15, 2022. https://ispr.gov.pk/NASFF, may be visited for details.
Over the years, events have been organized to energize the filmmaking industry. Similarly, steps have been taken to modernize the tourism industry of the country. Maybe what has been lacking is a synchronized and coordinated effort that would benefit both the media environment as well as tourism in Pakistan. NASFF is a sincere and focused endeavor to sow the seeds of excellence in the filmmaking arena to portray the true rising and shining image of the nation to the world. These seeds will be nurtured so that they may grow into healthy and strong plants of the future.
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