It Only Happens In Pakistan Reaches Its 5th Year And Now Wrapping Up

"It Only Happens In Pakistan" features panels with prominent local filmmakers, exhilarating musical acts, and excellent movies.

The It Happens Only in Pakistan film competition, which is run by Dawn and Deutsche Welle, will enter its fifth year in 2022. We moved through enlightening filmmaking conversations with renowned directors, electrifying musical performances, and beautiful films, all by our local artists, while the film festival was buzzing with excitement.

The Pakistani filmmaking community gathered on Sunday in District 19 in Karachi to recognise emerging talent in the field. There were a lot of attentive onlookers at the event, and they were continuously exposed to riveting parts one after the other. Who Gets to Tell Our Stories? was the topic of the opening panel discussion of It Only Happens In Pakistan, which Academy and two-time Emmy Award-winning documentary director Haya Fatima Iqbal hosted. Filmmakers Sourath Behen, Ali Mehdi, and Shahrukh Waheed participated on the panel.

The attendees were then directed to the outdoor area for seating where a female DJ was spinning music from atop a balcony while providing intermission entertainment for everyone. The subject of a previous year’s winning film of the It Only Happens In Pakistan festival, then performed a peacock dance. With his gestures and movements mimicking those of the magnificent bird, the dashing Ghulam Hussain appeared in public wearing a costume he created himself.


How can there not be a component of content production in the age where social media consumes the majority of our time? Popular Instagram personalities Patangeer, Amtul Baweja, and Fahad Tariq Khan were invited to host a discussion titled “Content Creation – A New Era of Filmmaking” as part of this year’s It Only Happens In Pakistan competition, which also featured a reels competition. Sadly, Khan was the only person who could attend the event, but he carried his wife’s enthusiasm to the stage to captivate the audience.

The Baloch Twins entertained the crowd with their musical talents before the panel discussion moved on to the next topic. The little concert at It Only Happens In Pakistan featured well-known songs and qawwali like “Mast Qalandar,” “Laila O Laila,” and “Ali Mola Ali Dam Dam.”

It was time for some intellectual nourishment at the festival once the audience’s musical cravings were satisfied. A panel of specialists spoke at a discussion titled “Films you can(t) produce, issues you should(n’t) explore,” which was chaired by the witty Zarrar Khuhro and guaranteed to make the audience chuckle. The panellists featured Kamli, Zindagi Tamasha, and Manto director Sarmad Khoosat, writer Ali Abbas Naqvi of Laal Kabootar, and ex-Teeli general manager Gul Zaib Shakeel.

Filmmakers, both professional and amateur, from all over Pakistan were invited to submit short documentary-style videos that capture subjects that are uniquely Pakistani. Every year, the It Only Happens In Pakistan contest announces a unique theme. This year’s theme was celebrating Pakistan’s food, culture, song and dance and natural splendour.

The contest kicked off earlier this year and received over 150 entries over six weeks. The winning entries were screened at the festival before the winners were called up on stage to receive their accolades. The winning reels covered the people of Pakistan — minorities of Pakistan, the food of Pakistan — a 70-year-old café in Saddar, Karachi, and the music of Pakistan — the singers at late Sufi poet Shah Latif Bhittai’s shrine.

The top five documentary film submissions were then revealed, and two were given honourable mentions because they had “something that stood out.”

Their effort was a tribute to their achievement; it was well-crafted and significant. Khanabadosh by Khurram Ali, Seher Ali, Hamza Shahid, and Ali Sahil, Blind Music Teacher by Abdul Basit and Junaid Mukhtar, and Sikandar Sanam by M. Rafiq, Abdul Nafees, Muhammad Ayoub, and Mehran Ali Shah took first, second, and third place in the documentary film competition, respectively.

Through the magic of filmmaking, people were able to journey from Sindh and Balochistan to Hunza. The festival concluded with an instrumental performance by the well-known Pashto band Khumariyaan. The night ended with a bang as the speed immediately picked up after a slow start and got the audience dancing!

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