Numerous Pakistani films have found success at various international film festivals over the past few years. Jawad Sharif’s Indus Blues has followed suit, being nominated for the Best Documentary Film award at the prestigious Regina International Film Festival (RIFFA) this year.
With a picture of the official nomination, the film’s official Facebook page reads, “A moment of pride for the entire Indus Blues team: The film gets nominated for the Best Documentary Film at the prestigious Regina International Film Festival (RIFFA).”
As per the official website, Indus Blues is a documentation of Pakistani folk artists speaking of their struggles to keep a fading art alive, reminding the world what it is about to lose. Its tagline reads, “The forgotten music of Pakistan.”
Musician Arieb Azhar also took to Facebook to share how Indus Blues came about. “Around three years ago, my talented friend Jawad Sharif approached me with a desire to make a film on the dying instruments of Pakistan,” he said. “With the invaluable help of Yasser Nomann, who was working at Lok Virsa, I put together a proposal in which we mapped all the endangered instruments from the various regions of Pakistan together with the remaining craftsmen who still make them and the master musicians who still play them.”
Azhar continued, “In the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s sarinda, we discovered that there are no craftsman left who still make that instrument, and only one master musician who can play it. I pitched the proposal through the platform of FACE with whom I used to work and we received funding through the USAID Ambassador to make the film.”
The Husn-e-Haqiqi hit maker said travelling with Sharif and his team across Pakistan, over a period of several months, was an unforgettable period of his life. “I renewed my love and my vows to the land and the culture from which I come,” he shared.
Speaking of the hurdles that arose whilst filming Indus Blues, Azhar revealed, “After it was made, we faced another battle to release an uncensored version as some people involved in the approval process thought the film was too critical of the narrow religious mindset that has become a threat to the living culture of Pakistan, even though our film, like any good documentary, honestly attempts to portray the views of our subjects in a logical and aesthetic narrative.”
He added, “I had not realised that the effort of promoting and pitching the film to festivals was going to be as challenging a task as the actual production. But thanks to the tireless efforts of Jawad Sharif and Haroon Riaz of Bipolar Films, Indus Blues has finally started getting accepted at international festivals! Once it’s done the international rounds, we’ll start arranging local screenings in cities around Pakistan!”
The article was originally published in The Express Tribune Life & Style on Sep. 12, 2018.