Oscar entry movie to headline Pakistani film festival

Oscar entry movie to headline Pakistani film festival
Film stills from the Pakistani movie Zinda Bhaag

Zinda Bhaag (Run For Your Life, 2013), the first Pakistani film to be submitted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, headlines the inaugural Pakistani Film Festival here that runs from Friday to Sunday.

Spearheaded by the Singapore Pakistani Association, the festival aims to turn the spotlight on the recent revival of the country's cinema industry.

Mrs Sophie Shaikh, president of the association, tells Life!: "Of late, Pakistani films have been getting recognition and acclaim worldwide. These films tell our stories. Zinda Bhaag, set in the historic city of Lahore, is an Oscar entry. It tells the story about the grim realities of immigration."

Overshadowed by the more global Bollywood from India, Pakistani cinema, or Lollywood as it is often called, faltered and slipped off the film map for nearly 30 years.

Things started changing around five years ago as film-makers took on edgier and more indie subjects, often making films on extremely tight budgets.

While exact figures of the industry's worth are not available, these films, such as Zinda Bhaag, are slowly pulling in crowds in the domestic market, picking up awards internationally as well as being screened at leading film festivals around the world.

Within Pakistan, a commercially successful film such as Waar (Strike, 2013), an Urdu and English- language thriller inspired by the 2009 Taleban attack on a police training centre near Lahore, grossed US$1.9 million.

In 2012, director Sharmeen Chinoy's documentary Saving Face, about victims of acid attacks in Pakistan, earned Pakistan its first Academy Award in the best short documentary category.

Critics say Pakistani film-makers are finally offering much-needed and "nuanced portraits" of their own country.

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