Pak filmmakers denied visa to attend NID fest

Shraddha Singh

Posted On Friday, February 18, 2011 at 03:45:27 AM

Art knows no boundaries, artists don’t either. Yet eight film-making students from National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, have been denied visa to attend a three-day film festival at the National Institute of Design here.

Four documentaries and one fictional film from Pakistan will be screened at Alpavirama-2011 South Asian Short & Documentary Film Festival which begins on Friday.

The fest includes two documentaries by filmmaker Nisar Ahmed from Gilgit-Baltistan. Ironically, one of them is named Cinema Making Peace. The other is Burning Paradise.

Nisar, who currently works with Lahore- based media production company Interactive Resource Centre, was shattered on hearing about the visa denial.

Talking to Ahmedabad Mirror from Lahore, he said, “We all were very excited about attending Alpavirama. But the Indian embassy denied us visa due to security reasons. We are creative people who wanted to be in India to experience Indian cinema. We will now have to console ourselves with the fact that our films were shortlisted for the fest. We hope Indians will get to know and appreciate our country through our films. Such festivals are a great platform to promote peace and cultural diversity.”

He added, “I am greatly disappointed to have missed a golden opportunity of visiting such a renowned institute. I wish I had been able to interact with Indian film makers and students. Without talking to each other, how do we expect peace to prevail between the two nations?”

His Cinema Making Peace shows how cinema, especially Bollywood films, is playing a vital role in creating harmony between India and Pakistan. Through this 13-minute film, Nasir tries to show how Bollywood films are entertaining people in violence-affected Pakistan with its storylines as well as dance-and-song sequences.

His ‘Burning Paradise’, a 22-minute documentary film in Urdu and Pashto shows the changing face of Swat Valley, which had been under the control of Taliban for several years now.

Alpavirama has been organised by the Film & Video Communication Department as part of the institute’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The festival will screen both fiction and documentary films from other South-Asian nations like Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.

Festival Director Arun Gupta said, “We want to foster a harmonious relationship and encourage understanding between neighbouring countries through the festival. Such films shows that despite all the differences, we are all humans and have the same emotions. It would have been great had the Pakistani filmmakers been allowed to visit us. Some of their films are really intelligent and show the real picture of Pakistan.”

He added, “We will screen nine films in the documentary section and 22 in the fiction category. This festival will give Amdavadis a chance to watch some very interesting short films and take a peek into the daily lives of people in our neighbouring countries.”

‘Alpavirama’ will also celebrate over two decades of existence of the film department through their event ‘Retrospective’, wherein a compilation of 16 documentary and fiction films made by select NID film & video students in the last two decades will be screened.


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