To experience another woman’s life through a 60-seconds documentary can be a revelatory experience, if crafted and narrated well.
The Izhar by Film Fellowship (IBFF), an initiative of Morango Films, with support from UN Women (the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) held a screening ceremony of the top 25 short films produced by trainees from across Pakistan who participated in the first-ever fellowship program on the social and political rights of women. The event was held on Thursday 30 March 2017 at the National Library of Pakistan, in Islamabad.
During the ‘training highlights’, guests were shown how the 60 trainees through a 4-day capacity-building session held in February, in Islamabad, were guided on how to use filmmaking as a medium for storytelling and evoke the spirit of responsible citizenship. Based on their learning, the trainees produced 12 group projects on one of the four focus areas of the fellowship under the guidance of renowned mentors. Following the training programme, the aspiring filmmakers developed and submitted their individual 60-second documentaries, of which the top 25 were screened during the ceremony.
The initial screening was followed by a panel discussion, where eminent panelists (Tahir Imran, Journalist, BBC; Aisha Sarwari, Author and Human Rights Activist; and Abrar ul Hassan, Founder of Morango Films) spoke of the power of filmmakers to select what to ‘report’ and ‘showcase’. Panelists also highlighted a need to be sensitive to cultural and religious concerns whilst aiming to shape public opinion through greater impact, as well as determining what the public considers to be important social issues.
Following deliberations by the jury members – renowned music video and commercial film directors Amena Khan and Sohail Javed; Founder of Morango Films Abrar Ul Hassan; Co-Founder of 60SIFF and Morango Films Affan Alam; and Social Media Director Laiq Qureshi – the best 10 fellows of IBFF were announced as:
- Rafay Latif from Sindh – ‘Shukria’ [Thank You]
- Rani Wahidi from Balochistan – ‘Ehtaram’ [Respect]
- Raiha Akram from Punjab – ‘All Eyes On You’
- Ebaad Shams from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – ‘Importance’
- Talha Adil from Sindh – ‘No Strings Attached’
- Gulzar Nayani from Sindh – ‘The Gaze’
- Ramla Yaqoob from Punjab – ‘Meri Pyari Beti’ [My Lovely Daughter]
- Ali Azmat from Sindh – ‘Careless’
- Wajahat from Gilgit-Baltistan – ‘Agahi’ [Awareness]
- Ahmed Hassan from Islamabad – ‘Zameer’ [Conscious]
The top 3 fellows received scholarship grants of Rs 100,000, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively.
In addition, awards were also presented to the following 3 filmmakers under the category of ‘film with the best message’:
- Sarah Rehman from Sindh – ‘The Transit’
- Nida Ramzan from Punjab – ‘A Vow’
- Abuzar Mir from Islamabad – ‘Barabar’ [Equal]
Speaking during the screening ceremony, Abrar ul Hassan (Founder Morango Films) expressed his delight over the work of the IBFF trainees and said, “It is overwhelming to have received such impactful films made by the aspiring youngsters, who have endeavored to depict aspects of rights of women in a very realistic way.”
In delivering the closing remarks, Sangeeta Thapa (Chief Guest and Deputy Representative, UN Women Pakistan) commended Morango Films for the first-ever IBFF and said, “It is heartening to see the overwhelming response to the fellowship and strong messages that have been shared with us through these films. We all have a role in creating awareness on political and social rights of women, whether through films or any other medium. As advocates and champions for gender equality, your messages can and do impact the way people perceive the roles and rights of women. On behalf of UN Women, I congratulate each one of you and we look forward to together ‘Stepping It up for Gender Equality where we have a Planet 5050 by 2030.”
This collaboration between UN Women and Morango Films falls under UN Women Pakistan’s project on “Women’s Peace, Security, Rights and Voice: safe public spaces, community outreach and empowerment, and political awareness and advocacy” with the support of the Government of Australia.