Alina Khan, Sarmad Khoosat at Faiz Festival 2024 | The Express Tribune

The 8th edition of the Faiz Festival took place recently at the Lahore Arts Council from February 9 to 11, holding a cultural showcase of literary dialogues, music performances, theatre presentations, book launches, documentaries and reflections on the future of Pakistani films.

Celebrated Pakistani filmmakers Sarmad Khoosat and Kanwal Khoosat graced the stage alongside actor Alina Khan for a panel discussion on ‘Pakistani films on the world stage’. Alina made history in 2022 as the first Pakistani trans actor to walk the Cannes red carpet for her work in Saim Sadiq’s critically acclaimed feature debut Joyland. The actor had also collaborated with the Khoosat siblings who served as co-producers on the project. 

Sarmad, who had a busy last few years with Kamli (2022) receiving praise and Zindagi Tamasha (2019) unable to bag a theatrical release, delved into the future of Pakistani cinema. The filmmaker talked about the resistance met by Zindagi Tamasha and the social climate during what is now regarded as the peak of Pakistani cinema. 

“Take any of our films from the 80s or 90s, it would not go beyond 18+ rating. Brandishing knives, guts spilling out, some guy setting whole villages on fire,” Sarmad contended how earlier films were comfortable with displays of sexuality and gore. 

The Humsafar director further remarked on budget constraints and exploring alternative subject matters, insisting, “Short, independent films have smaller casts, they take less money.” Expressing his love for mainstream Bollywood varieties of cinema with predictable features, Sarmad maintained that he “grew up watching this cinema” and “loves song and dance” but it is hard to make artistic contributions if you keep recycling the same tropes and visual formats.

As the panel concluded, Alina took to her IG handle with a grid post, relaying her gratitude for an important conversation. Sharing pictures from the day, the actor penned in the caption, “Absolutely honoured to have participated in a panel discussion for Faiz Festival alongside Sarmad Khoosat and Kanwal Khoosat, [moderated by] Tauseeq Haider.” 

She furthered on, “We delved into Joyland, Kamli and their incredible journeys, sharing their beauty with the world. I passionately stand for more lead roles for the Khwajasira community and other minorities. Let’s shatter stereotypes and open doors for underrepresented artists.” Alina capped her note with the hashtag #RepresentationMatters.

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