The festival kicked off on Saturday afternoon, with large crowds attending the various sessions despite the blazing Karachi heat. The Film Room was bulging with audience members during the screening of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-winning documentary, A Girl in the River. The screening was followed by an interactive session with the team behind the documentary, shedding light on the challenges faced during its shooting. The audience appreciated Chinoy’s efforts and expressed hope that this will encourage such bold and honest filmmaking in the future. Since the festival was focused on the promotion of emerging artists, an hour was dedicated to the screening of thesis films by university students, namely Gol Sa Pathar, Soch and The Light and The Little Girl. The untapped talent of these young artists was quite evident in the plot and direction of these short-films. Others included Lucky Irani Circus by Anam Abbas and City by the Sea by Mahera Omar.
A session with satirical writer Nadeem Paracha, moderated by Farjad Nabi, was held in the Upper Gallery. The gallery echoed with laughter as artists read Nadeem’s pieces on Malala, the Spy Pigeon and ‘Facebook timeline of the 21st Century Pakistani celebrity’.
Later in the evening, a presentation was held by the Woman’s Action Forum on ‘Women Targeted in Pakistan’. A short clip of Sabeen was played, in which she stated, “You have to protect yourself from the doom and the gloom and newspapers...and the onslaught. People don’t feel safe. I have a very cavalier attitude towards fear – so maybe, you know, I don’t care. I just feel the time will come when the time comes”. Other targeted women remembered included Perween Rahman, Zahra Shahid Hussain, Benazir Bhutto, and Zille Huma Usman. Anis Haroon, a member of the Women’s Action Forum, explained its mission, while Nuzhat Kidvai recited a short poem in Sabeen’s memory. As the sun began to set, an enormous crowd enjoyed the breezy evening in the Main Stage area where Ali Gul Pir hosted a concert – a fusion of classical, rock and qawwali.
The second day of the festival drew a large number of families. The Film Room hosted a large crowd at the screenings of A Daughter’s Lament by Danial Shah, Sapna: A Transgender by Ali Rizvi and Khamosh Pani by Sabiha Sumar.
However, the highlight of the day was Suhaee Abro’s Contemporary Dance in the Courtyard – a unique blend of contemporary and classical dance forms. The gifted young performer dedicated a special performance to Sabeen, with live vocals by Sara Haider. This was followed by a mesmerizing Bhartnatyam and Pushpanjali by the beautiful Sheema Kermani and her student Leila Khan, who also paid tribute to Sabeen by reciting an ode to the radical director of T2F.
The musical evening commenced with a breakdance performance by Footloose, which was enjoyed by adults and children alike. The Qawal Troupe (Subhan Nizami and Brothers) performed the popular qawali, Man Kunto Maula. At 9:15 pm – the exact minute when Sabeen was tragically shot a year ago – the lights were turned off and a moment of silence was observed on the request of the current director and Sabeen’s close friend, Marvi Mazhar. At 9:51, the moment Sabeen left her loved ones on 24th April, 2015, the lights were turned off again to commemorate her demise. The concert resumed with Zoe Viccaji’s enthralling performance, followed by Sara Haider’s enchanting voice resonating in the Mainstage area.
Throughout the day, the Art Lane was abuzz with vendors selling unique items, including jewellery, paintings, truck art wall hangings, and special mugs and cups with T2F logos and Sabeen’s pictures. The Art Gallery showcased brilliant artwork by amateur artists, as well as veterans such as Amin Gulgee. An entire wall in the gallery was decorated on the theme, ‘Evolution of Pakistani Music Album Art’. Karachi’s Girls at Dhabas also endorsed the event by continuing their routine coffee conversations and a banner painting activity at the rooftop. The Food Court was an ensemble of satiating items, from home-made sorbets and khaosay, to parathas and pizzas.
In conversation with Youlin, Marvi Mazhar remarked that the Creative Karachi Festival was Sabeen’s gift to Karachi and its people – and that her duty as a director and a friend was to take it one step forward. She added that this year’s CKF aimed to draw together and promote as many artists and art forms as possible. This, in essence, was for the love of Sabeen and her brainchild, T2F.
All images have been provided by T2F
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