Pakistan will send an entry to the Oscars for the first time in nearly 50 years as its struggling film industry shows signs of revival.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who in 2012 became the first Pakistani to win an Academy Award for co-directing Saving Face, a documentary about victims of acid attacks, will head the national committee charged with selecting Pakistan's entry.
Pakistan has previously submitted two motion pictures for Oscar consideration. In 1959, Jago Hua Savera was submitted by AJ Kardar, and in 1963, the film Ghunghat was submitted by Khawaja Khurshid Anwar. Neither film was nominated for an Oscar.
"We are seeking films that represent the best of Pakistani cinema and will aptly represent our country in the heavily contested Best Foreign Language Film category," Chinoy said.
"We are inviting and encouraging all Pakistani filmmakers to submit their entries and look forward to positive feedback from our film and arts industry in this regard."
Chinoy said Pakistan's film industry was going through a period of revival after decades of struggling. "The Pakistani film industry is slowly experiencing a resurgence. Pakistanis are going back to the cinema, new theatres are being built and more students are opting for a career in the arts," she said.
"Over the past two years, we have seen a significant rise in the number and nature of films being produced locally, from independent art films to blockbuster song and dance thrillers."
Three more women will sit alongside Chinoy on the panel - the writer and director Akifa Mian, the Pakistani actress Samina Peerzada and the producer Mehreen Jabbar.
The committee will also include The Reluctant Fundamentalist author Mohsin Hamid, the Pakistani actor Rahat Kazmi and the arts scholar Framji Minwalla.
"Just like any other enterprise, our material is also subject to demand and supply, and thus I hope that an increased demand results in a renewed interest from potential financiers and academic institutions as well," Chinoy said.
"It may take time but I have no doubt that the film industry will prosper if nurtured properly."
According to Variety magazine, the committee will have "plenty to choose from" - the Pakistan film industry has released 21 films so far this year. The deadline for submissions is October 1.
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