In an effort to provide a platform for local short documentary filmmakers to showcase their talent, and bring to light “unique, untold stories about Pakistan, its culture and people on an international level,” Dawn.com launched It Happens Only in Pakistan, a nationwide video story contest, which invited professional and amateur filmmakers from across Pakistan to create and submit short documentary films on Pakistan-related topics.
The contest initially began in May 2018 when over 2,000 entries were received from all over the country, with subjects ranging from female empowerment, education, social change, overcoming adversity, and the vibrant culture and traditions of Pakistan. In July this year, Dawn.com and Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's international broadcaster, collaborated to bring out the second edition of the contest, this time under the theme of Our Diverse Pakistan, with the objective of recognising Pakistan’s unsung, everyday heroes. The contest received over 200 entries; of which the best 28 were screened at the Avari Towers in Karachi last week.
The jury included renowned Pakistani documentary filmmakers Jami Moor and Babar Shaikh, as well as Jahanzaib Haque, Editor, Dawn.com, Kishwar Mustafa, Head of Urdu Service, DW and Stefan Robiné, Deputy Head Visual Services & Documentaries, DW.
The top three winners took away prize money worth Rs 500,000, Rs 300,000, and Rs 200,000 respectively. First Prize went to Seven Vertical Miles by Ali Haider, Ali Baloch, Hassan Zia and Zeeshan Haider and which delves into the deep, hazardous coal mines of Balochistan and the lives of the men who work there. Second Prize went to The Disgustful by Waleed Akram, Sheikh Mubashir, Mariam Hassan Naqvi and Hammad Javed and focuses on a day in the life of Shareef Maseeh, a sweeper who has been cleaning Lahore's streets for the last 35 years. Third Prize went to Boxing Against All Odds, a story about Aliya Soomro, a young woman from Lyari who has a passion for boxing and dreams about winning in the Olympics for Pakistan. The film is made by Fahad Kahut, Ahsan Khan and Saad Abbasi.
Our Diverse Pakistan included social media contest where filmmakers were asked to share photos and/or short films on social media with the hashtag #OurDiversePakistan and compete for two prizes worth Rs 55,000 each. Here, the winners were Daulat, a film about a farmer from Gilgit-Baltistan who makes extraordinary efforts on an everyday basis to take his daughter to school after overcoming numerous obstacles and Ikhtiyar, a story about a woman rikshaw driver and her difficult journey to get where she is.
Furthermore, three teams from the top 10 finalists have now been given the opportunity to work with DW Documentary and produce a 12 to 15 minute long documentaries (and win prizes worth Rs 330,000 each) that will be released on DW Documentary's official YouTube channel. The three winning teams were the creators of Seven Vertical Miles, Sikandar Rikshaw Wala (which follows the journey of vlogger Alexander aka 'Sikandar' who drives a rickshaw around Pakistan) and Kabaddi (which pays tribute to Pakistan's under-represented kabaddi players and narrates a coach's journey to keep the sport alive in Pakistan).
To see all the other films, click here.