Pakistan’s Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb has announced its first-ever film and cultural policy.
The policy gives the film industry formal status as an industry as well as the establishment of film studios, a finance fund and film academy. It also restores the directorate of films and publications, and it includes artists in the health scheme.
The new policy will remove duty on the import of film equipment, sales tax and film censor fees. Foreign film producers can take advantage of a 70% rebate on food and traveling allowance.
Film studios will be established under a public-private partnership, and the government will provide land for studio projects. A minimum of an 80% rebate will be given for the construction of cinemas.
On national days, the policy stipulates that only Pakistani films can be screened.
The cultural policy focuses on the construction of cultural infrastructure in Pakistan as well as the promotion of performing and visual arts and theatre. It also focuses on the promotion of music and other arts; and the development of preservation of traditional and folk culture sites.
The cultural policy will also promote provincial harmony, and it will be based on regional languages and cultural growth. The aim of the policy is to give the youth a cultural identity. It will also promote a positive image of Pakistan on a global level.
Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the country has its own indigenous narrative of peace and love, which is further being promoted by filmmakers like Habibullah Afridi, who is helping spread the message of love and peace through his films. The minister says no other government has cooperated with the film industry.
In the 1970s, Pakistan was producing 150 films per year, which greatly improved the image of the country. Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the film industry, like any other industry, contributes to the GDP.
The minister noted that Pakistan films will now be exhibited in China, and Chinese films will now be screened in Pakistan.
Many artists have come out in support of the new policy.
Film star and singer Ali Zafar tweeted, “Heard about Govt’s announcement of a film policy. Commendable initiative @Marriyum_A and everyone involved. More we recognise, support and celebrate our art and culture, more we elevate ourselves as a nation internationally.”
Announcement of the new policy comes as the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) Film Club said that it plans to preserve more than 5,000 Pakistani films produced over the last 70 years.
When announcing the new film and culture policy, Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb noted that terrorism had caused losses in both men and material over the last 30-35 years. The film industry had been greatly impacted.
During dictatorial regimes, artists were silenced, she said. Democracy and creative expression go hand-in-hand.
Aijaz Gul, senior official of the PNCA Film Club, said PNCA is making an effort to preserve and collect all films produced since independence.
Gul said there is a disconnect between the younger generation and Pakistan’s vibrant cinematic past. Preserving these films will help the youth learn about the country’s past films and appreciate the art.