Guest blogger Bart Weiss is director of the Video Association of Dallas. He’ll be checking in from Pakistan, where he’s participating in the American Documentary Showcase. He sent in this post on Monday.
Today we started at the U.S. consulate to get a security briefing from the Regional Security Officer (RSO). This is the guy who determines what is safe and what is not. Things have been very safe in Karachi for several years, and they want to keep it that way. He told us that the Pakistan secret police probably have looked at our laptops that were in the hotel safe, which was interesting, and that we could not take our laptops into the consulate. Some places we couldn’t even take our cellphones into. While these measures seem extreme, these folks need to make sure we are OK and that all the folks working there are OK. It is a mindset to get in the groove of, and now it seems OK.
While there, we met Carol Mitchell, the field director of the Library of Congress based in Islamabad. We had a great conversation about preservation and digitization of film. Then we took a short break at the cafeteria at the consulate and had the most amazing mango I have ever had – not like what we get at home.
The highlight of the day followed – a workshop with professional filmmakers. It was supposed to be a small group of 12, but all 19 who were invited actually showed up and stayed longer than our 4 ½ hour slot. They asked all kinds of questions about production, distribution, grants and funding. You know – the same kind of questions people would ask here. Tricia Regan was great answering questions and connecting with the audience. At one point we were talking about release waivers, and someone mentioned that in some places there are people who can’t write. Instead, they used a thumbprint, which I have never heard of but sounds more unique than an X.
In the evening, we had a workshop for college students who loved the movie we showed but were a bit shy about asking questions. We pulled some discussion out of them, but they seemed just happy to be there talking to filmmakers. Tomorrow we will meet some of them in more of a workshop and critique some of their work.
So far it is an exhausting but wonderful experience. Tomorrow we start early, so I am signing off.