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.
Today was perhaps our best day in Pakistan. The weather was great, and we had a great workshop at Punjab University. It was nice to have basically all day, because we could get a bit deeper than other days. It started like most of these events with some tea.
At every stop we have tea and pastries at least once. The tea is always Lipton.
This time, the head of the program, who then took us on a tour of the facilities, was in attendance. The program has nice TV/radio layout and an archive of student work.
After showing Autism the Musical, we had a great discussion about the usual things: shooting style, editing and story. We started to ask the people attending the workshop why we’ve only seen men shooting footage of our conversations. Are there any women shooters? We heard that there was interest from women to run the cameras, and there have even been a few camerawomen. But they were getting complaints from family and stopped. I told them about the history of women working in the film industry in the U.S., and how in the early days, women only worked as editors. The ensuing discussion was electrifying.
Our next stop was an evening show at Peeru’s Café, which is kind of like an artist compound with a restaurant. There is a puppet museum and amphitheater, where a world performing festival had been held for years. But now, with the state of things in Pakistan, it just isn’t safe to have a large crowd come to see music, dance and theater. This kind of culture is exactly what the Taliban wants to shut down.
We had a smallish and older (meaning not students) audience, but they got the film on a deeper level. They saw it as a work of art first and as information second – something the students have been struggling with all week. We then had a lovely dinner in the restaurant that is part of this complex (both the food and the air temperature were a bit hot, but the food and conversation were worth it).
While eating, we talked about the history of Pakistan’s issues while listening to Sain Zahoor, an incredible singer who wore Pakistani bling.
He was discovered singing in a mosque and is now quiet successful. But he still plays at the Café every Thursday night. The music, the hot food, the conversation, the heat and my growing exhaustion made this evening surreal and beautiful. We got in late and again had difficulty sleeping. But we’re still excited and ready for tomorrow’s opportunity, whatever that might be.