A lot of excitement and fervor was in the air at the Asia Society and Museum this gorgeous summer weekend as the 2018 NYC Pakistan Film Festival kicked off.
The Asia Society located on Park Avenue in New York City is an Asian cultural center offering events, talks, performances, and is also an art museum exhibiting diverse cultures. Perfect venue for the film festival as it comprises a comfortable movie theatre with a lovely stage for speakers to deliver talks, and interact with the audience.
The opening ceremony was led and facilitated by none other than Dr Maleeha Lodhi, a much revered Pakistani diplomat, and Pakistan’s permanent member to the United Nations. After a brief introduction of the premise of the festival, Rachel Cooper, Director for Global Performing Arts and Special Cultural Initiative, welcomed the participating actors, and spoke a few words on the importance of cross cultural initiatives such as this one.
Dr Lodhi’s opening remarks were warm, welcoming, and true. “We thank the galaxy of top stars from Pakistan that are here from our emerging film industry that needs to be celebrated internationally – we salute these stars, we acknowledge them, and we celebrate them,” she said.
Mahira Khan with Dr Maleeha Lodhi
The stars in attendance were Mahira Khan, Aamina Sheikh, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Mehwish Hayat, Beo (the brilliant mother from Cake), Nayyab (the lead in Na Band Naa Baraati) Director Nadeem Baig (Punjab Nahi Jaungi), and Director Asim Abbbasi (Cake). Of course, Frieha Altaf shepherded this event and was there representing the event, and Pakistan.
Aamina Sheikh, Frieha Altaf and Mahira Khan
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Mehreen Jabbar, Ayesha Umar and Zeb Bangash joined as well.
Movies shown as a part of the festival were selected based on movies that were released this year and represented a diversity of genres:
Day 1: 7 Din Mohabat In, Parchi, Verna, Cake
Day 2: Na Band Na Barati, Lala Begum, Punjab Nahi Jaungi
In addition to the movies being shown, a talk by none other than Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy was also part of the plan. The event ended with a live concert by the super talented Zeb Bangash whose music appeals to all age groups and cultures.
It appears that promotion prior to the event is a bit of a challenge and has been a recurring pattern for Pakistani events in the US. Summer is a busy time in the United States and marks the season of weddings, graduations, and vacations. It takes connections in Pakistan to find out about these events and that too almost at the last minute.
All in all, it’s been a well-organised event fulfilling the much needed purpose of promoting the softer side of Pakistan to the world.