It has been 50 years since Pakistan sent a flag bearer for Oscar consideration, but the country may seek an Academy Award once more after Pakistani authorities gave tacit support to submit a film this year, according to The Guardian and Variety.
The south Asian country has only sent two features for the foreign language category since it was created in 1956. Recognized national committees pick one non-English feature for consideration for Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars. Submissions are then considered and a short list is issued by the Academy in late fall before the final nominees are announced along with the awards’ other categories. The only two Pakistani submission were Akhtar J. Kardar’s Jago Hua Savera in 1959 and Khawaja Khurshid Anwar’s Ghunghat in 1963.
Michael Haneke’s Amour (NYFF50) won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscar telecast on February 24. Last year, a record 71 films were submitted for consideration from countries including Kenya, which submitted a film for the first time (Nairobi Half Life, New York African Film Festival ’13), and Cambodia (Lost Loves), which submitted its first title in 18 years and only its second overall.
“Pakistan has not officially submitted any films for the Academy Awards consideration in 50 years because the state has never taken film seriously, neither as a cultural art form nor as a valuable communal experience,” British-Pakistani director Hammad Khan told Variety. The filmmaker’s 2011 debut feature Slackistan was denied a Pakistani release without cuts, which he refused to make. “In all those years, Pakistan has been so preoccupied with coups, wars and religion that cinema has only been reduced to low entertainment by the powers that be. It is, of course, monumentally idiotic to ignore the power of cinema in the development of any nation’s narrative.” The country will reportedly have 21 releases in 2013.