Pakistan re-enters race for foreign-language film Oscar this year

Jago Hua Savera: one of Pakistan’s two previous entries for the foreign-language Oscar

Pakistan is planning to submit a film for the best foreign-language Oscar for the first time in 50 years, reports Variety.


The committee responsible for picking the entry has reportedly received tacit support from the Pakistan authorities, despite professing independence. Pakistan has only previously sent two movies to the Academy Awards since the foreign-language category was created in 1965: Akhtar J Kardar’s Jago Hua Savera in 1959 and Khawaja Khurshid Anwar’s Ghunghat in 1963.

British-Pakistani director Hammad Khan told Variety: “Pakistan has not officially submitted any films for the Academy Awards consideration in 50 years because the state has never taken film seriously, neither as a cultural art form nor as a valuable communal experience.” The film-maker, whose 2011 debut feature Slackistan was refused a release in Pakistan unless cuts (which he refused to make) were carried out, added: “In all those years, Pakistan has been so preoccupied with coups, wars and religion that cinema has only been reduced to low entertainment by the powers that be. It is, of course, monumentally idiotic to ignore the power of cinema in the development of any nation’s narrative.”

The status quo does appear to be slowly shifting in the nation, however. Pakistan’s film industry has released 21 movies in 2013 so far, after a period of dormancy. Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) had previously become well known for refusing licences for movies such as spoof Osama movie Tere Bin Laden.

The committee is chaired by Oscar-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (director of the documentary Saving Face). Panellists include the writer of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid, director Mehreen Jabbar (Ramchand Pakistani), actor Rahat Kazmi, director Akifa Mian (Inaam), actor and director Samina Peerzada (Inteha) and arts academic Framji Minwalla. The deadline for submissions this year is 1 October.

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