APP02-04 NEW YORK: December 04 - Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi with film industry celebrities at the launch of 2-day Pakistan Film Festival organized by Pakistan Mission at UN Headquarters. APP

NEW YORK, Dec 4 (APP): (APP): Celebrated Pakistani movies drew packed houses on Saturday, the first day of Pakistan Film Festival’s triumphant debut in New York City.

“Actor in Law” and “Dobara Pher Say” received resounding applause from film fans and art lovers following the screening at Asia Society’s auditorium. More excitement was in store for them as the cast of the two movies appeared on stage.

Pakistani actors and film personalities, who traveled to New York from Pakistan, include 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.

Sabiha Khanum, the top star of yesteryears who lives near Washington, also made an appearance at a reception hosted by the Pakistan Mission to the UN on Friday to a warm welcome.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi declared open the two-day festival, saying it is a part of the continuing efforts to promote cultural diplomacy and to project the country’s soft power.

“Young film makers in Pakistan are producing an incredibly diverse and entertaining array of movies which are contributing to the cultural renaissance underway in the country which is also reflected in the profusion of creative voices found today in Pakistan’s art, music, literature and the media,” she said.

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 that “Pakistan has much to offer the world in this regard, and our responsibility is to take this to the international arena.”