A few days ago, an announcement calling for Oscar submissions from Pakistani filmmakers was released. This is the seventh consecutive year that Pakistan would be sending a film to the Oscars to be considered as a nomination for the ‘International Feature Film Award’. Some of the films that have been submitted for consideration previously have been ‘Cake’, ‘Moor’, ‘Dukhtar’, ‘Mah-e-Mir’, and ‘Zinda Bhaag’.
According to the press release, the committee is looking for films released between the dates 1st October 2018 and 30th September 2019. The films must be of a feature movie length produced outside of United States of America, with a predominantly non-English dialogue track and must have seen a proper theatrical release and have gotten at least seven days run at the theatres.
This means all the Pakistani films released between the time period are eligible to be selected by the committee and sent for consideration. First, however, let’s take a look at the films and see whether or not they are worthy to be considered for such a prestigious award.
The likelihood of consideration
Only three films released in the latter months of 2018 namely ‘Pinky Memsaab’, ‘3 Bahadur: Rise of the Warriors’, and ‘Donkey King’. Although there has been no rule specifying whether or not animated features can be considered for the award, it is highly doubtful that ‘3 Bahadur’ or ‘Donkey King’ would make the cut.
A handful of films have been released in 2019 that can be up for consideration as well with names like ‘Laal Kabootar’ and ‘Baaji’ topping the list owing to the critical acclaim the films have gotten.
We emphasize on the critical acclaim here because looking at the previously considered films Pakistan has sent for the Academy’s consideration, there is a pattern.
Films which have had thought provoking and edgy scripts are considered more, instead of films that are aimed towards the masses or, in other words, commercial successes. Films garnering commercial success are not top-priority and, thus, are barely considered for the nomination.
While it is still early to make a final guess about which of the Pakistani films being released this year would be selected by the committee as Pakistan’s official entry to the Oscars, we are making an educated guess that it would be either ‘Pinky Memsaab’ or ‘Laal Kabootar’. ‘Baaji’ is also a strong contender but the criticism the film’s last fifteen minutes have gotten has, unfortunately, made the film a weaker contender.
Films like ‘Ready Steady No’ in addition to all Eid-ul-Azha releases fulfil conditions to be eligible for consideration. However, judging by the films’ trailers and the appeal they are going for, it makes us think that they would not be the films the committee would be looking for.
Nevertheless, the Pakistani film officially selected for the Academy’s consideration would be announced in October. And whichever film will make the cut, we hope the industry supports it. Moreover, we hope it’s one that best represents the rapidly evolving state of Pakistani cinema.