First-ever Pakistan Film Festival in New York ends on a high note

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NEW YORK, Dec. 5 (APP): The first-ever Pakistan Film Festival in New York concluded Sunday night after enthusiastic audiences were treated to some of the best works of a resurgent Pakistani cinema over the last two days.

A total of eight films were screened in the packed-to-capacity auditorium of the prestigious Asia Society on Dec. 3 and 4 as excited movie fans and art lovers warmly applauded.

The festival was organized by the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations as part of its efforts to promote cultural diplomacy and to project the country’s soft power.

In her concluding remarks, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, who took the initiative to hold the film festival, congratulated officers of the Pakistan Mission for their hard work in ensuring the success of the festival.

“With this, I hope people here will see our country through a different lens,” she told the crowd as the last movie ‘Lahore say Agay” was shown.

“We hope this opens up a market here in the US as people have now seen the classy films we are producing,” the Pakistani envoy told the cheering audience.

“People have also appreciated the social messaging in many of the movies.”

The festival kicked off Friday evening with a glittering reception at UN Headquarters in the presence of some of the biggest Pakistani stars, ambassadors accredited to the UN, community members, media and movie buffs.

The highlight of the that evening was the presence of Sabiha Khanum, the popular heroine in the 50s and 60s, who received a resounding applause.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, who was the chief guest, congratulated Pakistan for holding the festival, saying cultures events played a key role in promoting better understanding among peoples of the world.

Ambassador Lodhi remarked, “People at the UN saw Pakistan’s star power.”

The presence of Pakistani actors and film personalities, who traveled to New York from Pakistan, was a source of excitement for the audience who whistled and broke into cheers when they appeared on the stage.

They included Mahira Khan, Mawra Hocane, Nabeel Qureshi, Saba Qamar, Wajahat Rauf, Yasir Hussain, Sheheryar Munawar, Asim Raza, Tooba Siddiqui, Adeel Hussain, Sanam Saeed, Jerjees Seja (JJ), Producer, Afia Serena Nathaniel and Mehreen Jabbar.

Two brand new films — “Dobara Pher Say” and “Lahore Say Agay” — premiered here. Other movies shown were: “Actor in law,” Pakistan’s Oscar nomination, “Mahe Meer”, “Dukhtar”, Dance Kahani,” “3 Bahadur and “Ho Mann Jahan.”

Since assuming charge as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador Lodhi has undertaken several cultural projects and organized a series of events to promote Pakistan’s soft image and highlight its modern and vibrant culture but also its ancient civilizational roots.

The Pakistan Mission, under her leadership, organized a “Sufi Night” at the UN General Assembly hall to mark Pakistan Day earlier this year featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

She also organized an Exhibition of Contemporary Art from Pakistan at the UN, which showcased some of the best works of art to demonstrate how Pakistan is becoming a powerhouse of creativity. She was also instrumental in bringing the Lahore Literary Festival to the Asia Society in New York.

“Cultural diplomacy is an essential part of a diplomat’s job aimed at winning hearts and minds”, Ambassador Lodhi said, adding “Pakistan has much to offer the world in this regard, and our responsibility is to take this to the international arena.”