UT partners with Pakistani college for filmmaking courses

Catherine Marfin

The United States Embassy in Pakistan has granted $1 million to UT’s South Asia Institute and Radio-Television-Film program to enable students from both UT and Lahore, Pakistan, to travel and collaborate on film projects.

Kamran Ali, director of UT’s South Asia Institute, said UT is a prime location for the partnership between the two countries.

“Unlike Hollywood, Austin is a space of independent filmmaking,” Ali said. “The film industry in Pakistan may benefit more from our low budget filmmaking scene, since blockbuster Hollywood productions may not be feasible for their current industry. This is an ideal place for the young and potential filmmakers to be exposed to filmmaking that will serve them well.”

Between now and the spring of 2018, UT faculty will travel to Lahore four times to conduct intensive filmmaking courses, while 16 students and faculty from Pakistan will visit UT to work on collaborative film projects. The three-year program will culminate in a feature-length film, which is expected to screen at international film festivals in both countries.

“The National College of Arts will receive some of the most cutting-edge training in areas of scriptwriting, cinematography, production, direction and much more,” Ali, UT liberal arts professor, said. “Students and faculty from both schools will gain exposure to new learning trajectories, creative impulses and aesthetic priorities, which provides for a productive and beneficial learning experience.”

RTF freshman Jeff Kardesch said he thinks the program is important because it shows UT students a different side of Pakistani culture.

“In this country, the only things we hear about Pakistan are negative,” Kardesch said. “This is a great way to learn more about their arts, culture, and method of filmmaking, which you would never see in today’s media. There’s a lot we can learn from each other.”

Michael Anderson, director of international relations and global studies at UT, said he feels the program is important in educating students about cultural issues in society.

“This kind of exchange brings the world to UT-Austin, and the world can either complement or challenge many cultural preconceptions students have,” Anderson said. “This program will allow students to hear all kinds of voices and opinions through experts from a culture outside their own, broadening the education of students from both countries.”