LA Premiere of Among the Believers, Gardaab, The Journey Within, The Story of Coke Studio Origin, and Prom
By Haya Farooqui, Sarah Sikandar and Perveen Ali

April and May were two very busy months for the Pakistan Arts Council (PAC). In keeping with its commitment to foster the traditions of Pakistani Heritage and Culture via Arts,the Council screened a series of films at the Pasadena Public Library.
As always, the screenings were open to the public and free of charge. The subject of each movie focused on events that happened or are happening in Pakistan and its society. The diverse audience was quite engaged in learning about Pakistan, and the interactive Q&A sessions after each screening gave an insight on the thought processes and inspiration behind each movie. Thumbs up to PAC for continuing to bring such appealing and out of the ordinary events to Southern California. Special thanks to Ayesha Kamran, the outgoing President of PAC and Samira Saleh, the incoming President, for their leadership, time and commitment.
Among the Believers is a 2015 documentary film directed by Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Naqvi, and produced by Jonathan Goodman Levitt and Hemal Trivedi. The film had its US premiere at Tribeca Film Festival on April 17, 2015 and has been screened at the US Department of State, the United Nations and in over 50 film festivals in 25 countries. Nominee for the Independent Spirit Award, Cinema Eye Award, Asia Pacific Screen Awards and UNESCO-Fellini Award, “Among the Believers” has won 27 awards.
The documentary examines the political and religious turmoil in Pakistan with specific attention to the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) and its network of madrasas. The main focus of the film is the head of the Red Mosque, MaulanaAbdul Aziz Ghazi, who takes the filmmakers on a tour of his madrasas in Islamabad and the countryside. As a counterpoint, the film features noted nuclear physicist and educational activist Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, who provides broader context on the history presented by Abdul Aziz.
Gardaab, Urdu for Whirlpool, is a Pakistanidrama film directed by Harune Massey, written by Harune Massey, Saleemullah Nasir and produced by Mazhar Zaidi. The film features Fawad Khan (no not him) and Amna Ilyas in the main cast and a special appearance by Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah. The movie is a love story set against the background of Karachi and is a loose adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Trapped in the web of ethnic strife in the brutal underbelly of Karachi, Gardaab is a tale of two lovers' journey, as they struggle to break away from the unending cycle of violence that haunts the metropolis. Harune Massey, the director, was there to talk about the movie with Q&A following.
The Journey Within, The Coke Studio Origin Story, is an award-winning music docu-film about the origin of 'Coke Studio', produced, written and directed by Mian Adnan Malik. The film has been screened at over 20 film festivals worldwide and is the winner of the Silver Remi Award, WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, 2016, USA and Best Film of the Festival, Full Bloom Film Festival 2015.
In a post 9/11 Pakistan faced with challenges of war and conflict, a quest for self-identity leads the inspirational journey of a music show to help reclaim the rich and vast musical heritage of this region. We discover the show from its humble beginnings, living through its spirit to reach the heart of the experience, as artists unify eastern and western sounds to make music that will resonate across the globe.
Mian Adnan Malik, the film's young director, who flew in from Pakistan for the screening, answered the audience's questions and discussed his personal experience engaging with the musicians and technical team members. Malik intertwines the interviews with behind-the-scene footage of Coke Studio originals making the film a fulfilling and insightful experience.


Prom, is a short film, written by Prashanth Venkataramanujam and Imran Khan, and directed by Imran Khan. The story is by Hasan Minhaj. The film was accepted into the 2016 NYU Tisch First Run Festival, 2017 Cinequest Film Festival, as well as the2017 LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. An uncomfortable moment of casual racism makes Hasan's prom night one he'll never forget. Hasan Khan, an Indian American teenager, secretly gets ready to leave his strict father’s house with the hopes of taking his high school crush, Bethany Wheeler, to prom. When he arrives at Bethany’s house, he’s greeted at the door by an uncomfortable Mrs Wheeler, who, after skirting around the issue, informs him that they’ve decided he wouldn’t be “a good fit
The Pakistan Arts Council is affiliated with the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. It is the oldest Pakistani organization in the Los Angeles and Southern California vicinity formed in 1991. Over the past 25 plus years, they have promoted the arts and culture of Pakistan by organizing exhibitions, book talks with authors, lectures, live plays, movie screenings, tours of museums, and related cultural events including partnering with Grand Performances, Pasadena Public Library and others to showcase these type of events.
The PAC board of directors share their passion for Pakistan and the vibrant, rich culture that it is. Their efforts come in a time when diversity itself needs protection with ventures that introduce the local audiences to a whole new range of culture and social life of a country and culture that's in the news for all the wrong reasons. For more information, please visit their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/PakistanArtsCouncil.

 

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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