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Exclusive: Three Pakistani films to be screened at Jaipur’s film festival

“Political crisis should not affect cultural exchange between India and Pakistan. We’re ready to deal with any kind of objection”
— HANU ROJ, Founder, JIFF 

The Jaipur International Film Festival is ready to host its 9th edition from 7-11 January 2017. In a telephonic conversation with Hanu Roj, the festival founder, we got to know that three films from Pakistan are set to be screened at the festival. Although this is not the first time that the festival is hosting Pakistani cinema, the move is expected to create ripples, courtesy the ongoing tensions between the two nations. “It is a situation of political crisis. But hampering cultural exchange is not a solution when there’s not even any kind of a ban by the government,” says Hanu Roj, founder of JIFF. He believes that since the two nations have always had a shared culture, political clashes should not come in way of the ethnicity.

The Pakistani films set to be screened at JIFF include Mah-e-Mir, a feature film directed by Anjum Shehzad, Little Red Roses, a short fiction film by Asim Abbasi, and Hellhole, a documentary by Mobeen Ansari. Digital wing of Pakistan’s biggest newspaper Dawn also confirmed film-makers’ participation at the festival and called the the move a ‘pleasant turn of events’.

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In view of the recent scrapping of a Pakistani film from the MAMI Film Festival, Roj said, “There’s a gap between the two festivals (October (MAMI) and January (JIFF)). We hope things would be calmer by the coming year. Moreover, Shiv Sena’s opposition for Pakistan has been profound but the Rajasthan government isn’t as aggressive in this matter. Even if anything comes up against the screening of these films, we will have reasons to strengthen our points.”

This courageous move by the JIFF comes at a time when a lot of pre-planned cultural activities between India and Pakistan have been cancelled. Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil stoked a major controversy even before its release due to Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s extended cameo in it.

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Will JIFF be able to stick to its decision? Let’s see. We can cheer till then!

Jaipur International Film Festival

A still from Little Red Roses

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