Some would say that Pakistani cinema is at an interesting point in time where me might just be witnessing the first seeds of a hopefully successful revival being sown. With promising new voices waiting to be heard and new talent burgeoning out to be seen, hopes are high.
Over the course of our cinematic history, we’ve seen some diverse stories being told, but one story that is rarely seen is that of the Pakistani immigrant. This is not only a very interesting voice but is also a very important one and it is one that has catapulted us to Cannes.
Representing Pakistan for the first time at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival’ 19 at the Cannes L’Atelier co-production meeting is our very own Iram Parveen Bilal who is of both Pakistani and Nigerian origins.
Parveen, who is known for her film Josh: Independence Through Unity, has a very unique voice to lend to the cinema screen and that is something that the renowned Festival has identified. Her film project titled ‘Wakhri’ chronicles the story of a Maths teacher who assumes the role of a sexy alter ego/identity to help further the cause of girl’s education.
Parveen took to Facebook to share the good news with her fans, “We are going to Cannes! Pakistan is going to be at Cannes (maybe for the first time? Definitely at L’Atelier)!”
“So excited to be representing Pakistan and being one of the 15 directors at the prestigious Cinefondation’s L’Atelier this year with our project Wakhri, produced by Abid Merchant,” she added. “This was a film I wrote when I was down and out with Forbidden Steps losing its investment the second time. When nothing was moving with that film, I let go and breathed into Wakhri. Goes to show, good things take time and you have to learn to let go some times.”
The reason why this is such a big honour is because the Cinefondation Atelier only selects and invites 15 directors to Festival de Cannes each year! These are those directors whose work show promise. They then spend time getting acquainted with international production houses at the co-production meeting who can help them turn their projects into full films.
In an interview to Something Haute, Parveen had this to say regarding the opportunity,
“Wakhri has also been a part of the prestigious Open Doors section at Locarno Film Festival where Cannes Cinefondation’s director caught eye of it as well as some of my past work. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and to represent the country with Wakhri,”
Talking about the experience and the honour she feels as a Pakistani director and film maker, Parveen shared that she would even wear clothes from Pakistani designers to the event to better promote her culture and heritage.
She said in an interview to the Express Tribune;
Yes, first time in Cannes because I have a personal rule to only go to a festival if my work takes me there. This is the first feature project in the 72-year history of Pakistan, so it is an honour. Just our presence here has been such a privilege for ourselves as we are walking-talking flags for the country. I decided to wear Pakistani designers at the various galas and dinners, to represent my country better.