The second edition of Pakistan Film Festival in New York came to a close Sunday night after enthusiastic audiences were treated to some of the top-rated movies over the last two days and they even had a chance to see and mingle with the leading Pakistani stars.
The festival kicked off Saturday when four movies — 7 Din Mohabbat In, Parchi, Verna and Cake– were screened to packed houses. On Sunday, three films — Na Band Na Baraati, La La Begum and Punjab Nahi Jaongi — were shown.
“It has been exciting hosting the second Pakistan Film Festival and movie artists from Pakistan and ensuring our latest movies find a international platform,” Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said in her concluding remarks at Asia Society hall.
“This festival is special, as it brought our films to a global audience, showing Pakistan in a light that the world rarely sees in the Western media,” she said.
“The energy and dynamism of our emerging film industry reflects the energy and spirit of the people of Pakistan,” the Pakistani envoy added.
Ambassador Lodhi profusely thanked the stars, including Mahira Khan, Mikaal Zulfikar, Mehwish Hayat, Aamina Sheikh, for taking time out of their busy schedules and traveling to New York to participate in the festival.
“You did Pakistan proud,” she said, as a loud applause rang out.
The ambassador also congratulated officers and staff of the Pakistan Mission for their hard work in ensuring the success of the festival.
On behalf of the visiting actors, Mikaal Zulfikar thanked Ambassador Lodhi for her initiative to hold the festival as part of the efforts to promote cultural diplomacy and to project the countryâ€™s soft power.
One of the highlights of Sunday evening was a animated conversation with double Oscar award-winning Oscar Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy who discussed her future documentary projects, one of which is about how Lahore activist Syed Ghulam Fatima is tenaciously fighting for the rights of men, women and children working at brick kiln sites in poor conditions. Another documentary is about women being trained in Nowshera in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa for counter-terrorism operations.
In addition, Ms.Chinoy said she is working on “Home 1947”, a documentary on the impact of partition on migrating populations. The programme was conducted by Rachel Cooper, Director for Global Performing Arts and Special Cultural initiatives.
The festival was rounded off with a sterling performance by Pakistan’s star singer Zeb Bangash who entertained the gathering with some of her hit songs to the delight of music lovers. Zeb is part of the first generation of Pakistani musicians to have established themselves internationally.
Since assuming charge as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador Lodhi has undertaken several cultural projects and organized a series of events to promote Pakistan’s soft image and highlight its modern and vibrant culture as well its ancient civilizational roots.
“Cultural diplomacy is a vital part of any diplomat’s job which is aimed at winning hearts and minds”, Ambassador Lodhi said in an interview with APP. She added that Pakistan has much to offer the world in this regard, and its diplomat’s responsibility is to ensure that this is projected in the international arena.