LAHORE: The Faiz International Festival 2016 that officially opened on November 18 rolled on yesterday with lot of enthusiasm and fanfare.

The festival includes panel discussions, music and theatre performances as well as workshops on dance, theatre and filmmaking. It brought together a number of top musicians, singers, filmmakers, actors and analysts. On the first day two important sessions took place in which leading personalities from music and film industry came together to brainstorm on the issues the country is facing with regard to their fields as well as envision the future. Following are excerpts of the discussion that went on in these two sessions:

Power of film

The session ‘Power of film’ was all about the revival of film industries across the world. The hosts were Sarmad Khoosat and Mira Hashmi and the panelists were Firdoze Bulbulia, Mehreen Jabbar and a French filmmaker Alex. The session started with a video clip titled ‘Cry of love’. The clip shows the lives of young and talented teens who explore their musical gifts in a fictitious school named the African Performing Arts Centre. Set against the vibrant cosmopolitan backdrop of Johannesburg, this film brings together characters from right across Africa, and despite their differences each one finds solace in ‘The Sanctuary.’ a place of common ground, where people are united through music, and the celebration of their Ubuntu – the African expression of, ‘I live through you’. Firdoze said they basically tried to create a situation where the elders were mentoring the youth but in the same case they were dealing with very difficult issues to entertain the audience.

Mehreen said it was very important to showcase films from Pakistan at international festivals. “You get to interact with different people and portray the culture of your country in foreign countries. I feel so proud that Dobara Phir Se is going to be showcased at New York International Film Festival. Film's story revolves around a character of a divorced Pakistani woman based in New York City who visits an upscale Connecticut suburb to visit her estranged ex-mother-in-law. The Pakistani film industry has improved a lot and big thanks to the digital technology. Films like Jannan, Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, Moor, Manto and many more are example of revival in cinema of Pakistan,” Mehreen said.

French filmmaker Alex thanked the organizers for inviting him to share his views at the festival. “Such festivals should be organized more often. One of the most important functions of cinema is to entertain the audience. The genre should not be superstitious. When we feel that we have achieved the art and there is nothing to learn now that is one of the dangers of film industries all over the world.

“The same problem is with the film industry of China, Holland, Russia, and Pakistan as well. It is actually very difficult to reach the audiences in international market. Everything which is within the system of Hollywood cannot have access of international market. So, these films industries are limited to their own countries for their own people,” Alex maintained.

Musicians of today

The session ‘Musicians of today’ was all about the revival of music in Pakistan. The session was conducted by Arshad Mahmud and the panelists were Ali Noor, Jawad Ahmad and Natasha Ejaz. The session started with popular singer Ali Noor saying that he was trying to understand where we stand today. “I mean we have put up a festival talking about the achievements of Faiz. Is he actually valid today? See we are talking about music revival. Music is going down. The young generation is busy with their mobile phones. I actually want to know when new Faiz and Allama Iqbal are going to come. Is a person like Allama Iqbal going to come from this generation? I think we actually need to find answer to this question. I have been a fan of Faiz lyrics even when Jawad was singing I had goose bumps but these songs are not relevant anymore,” Noor was of the view.

Jawad Ahmed opined that when we go out we see a lot of poverty. “There will issues related to health, education, employment and many more. I agree with Ali’s concept. But a new Allama Iqbal can’t happen because our society needs to be organized. Let’s talk about factories if there is union support there the society automatically moves towards revival. Same is the case with our youth. We live in conservative society. The content which is shown again and again on the TV will get hits. If Ali Noor’s music can’t come on TV no one will listen to it. In a country which has 180 million people even if 170 million people make music they will not be able to make it hit even on the social media. In social media the music which is funny like Waderai Ka Baita and Why this Kolaveri Di. Only such kind of music will become hit.

“If you give serious music on social media it will flop badly. In India they promote their songs on every TV channel. The songs then automatically become hit on social media. We have so much talent but the thing we actually don’t have is money, which is a harsh reality. If government supports us and provides platform the music will surely be on the path of revival and we will be able to attract international audiences as well,”

Natasha Ejaz ended the session with her views. “I’m really impressed by the question of Ali Noor. The reason is people actually have no time. In the past, Pakistan produced some of the greatest names in the music industry who have also received fame at international level. Music has always been an integral part of our mainstream culture, and to say that the country lacks talent is to mar the wondrous legacies that many of our singers have left.

“If we talk about legends of past Madam Noor Jahan used to say I remember how Mushir Kazmi has faced poverty. He used to get inspiration while lying on the rooftop. He used to compose songs there. That was the only source of his revenue. That is why the songs composed then had strong lyrics,” Natasha said.