Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pakistan short film on drone attacks gets international award

A short film on the US drone attacks in Pakistan, made by students of Iqra University, has won an award at an international annual film festival held in the US.
The film The Other Side was awarded with Best Audience Award at National Film Festival For Talented Youth, Washington. The short film is written and directed by Danish Ali along with five other team members.
The 20-minute film revolves around the idea of assessing social, psychological and economical affects of drones on the people in tribal areas of Pakistan.
The film identifies the problems faced by families who have become victims of drone missiles, and it unearths the line of action which terrorist groups adopt to use victimised families for their vested interests.
Filmmakers Muhammad Danish, writer and director, and Atiqullah, producer of the short film, are students at Iqra University, the leading private Pakistani management institute.
Despite being chosen for the award, the filmmakers were unable to attend the award ceremony as their visa applications were rejected twice.
“If we got the visa then it would have been easy for us to frame our point of view in front of the other selected youth filmmakers,” Ali said.
“The film gained interest from the audience across the globe compelling festival administrators to give Audience Award to the film,” he added.

Drone filmmaker denied visa

 A Pakistani student is unable to accept his film festival award because he is denied the right to enter the U.S.

Although it’s not proven why the visa was denied — the U.S. government, needless to say, refuses to comment on visa denials — this case is similar to that of Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who had sued the CIA on behalf of civilian drone victims and was also denied a visa to travel to the U.S. to attend last month’s Drone Summit in Washington; the Obama administration relented and permitted him to travel to the U.S. only once a serious outcry arose. The Bush administration also routinely excluded Muslim critics of U.S. foreign policy from entering the U.S.
Banning filmmakers, lawyers, political activists, and scholars from entering your country out of fear of their criticisms is the behavior of an insecure, oppressive nation. It’s also natural behavior for political leaders eager to maintain an impenetrable wall of secrecy around their conduct.
Just to underscore how extreme is the Obama administration’s reflexive secrecy in such matters: yesterday, ABC News‘s Jake Tapper asked National Security Advisor Tom Donilon whether the U.S. Government compensates the innocent victims it kills outside of Afghanistan, and Donilon simply refused to answer (“I’m just not going to go there”). There’s no legitimate reason that this information should be concealed, but for a government that views disclosure as inherently unnecessary, that is enamored of its own secrecy power for its own sake, and that is desperate to prevent its citizens from knowing what it is doing, this sort of imperious decree of secrecy is the natural course (for an even more egregious case, see this amazing summary from the ACLU’s Ben Wizner on how Obama DOJ lawyers defend the U.S. government’s secret, definitively Kafkaesque, unappealable no-fly and Terrorist watch lists).
That the U.S. is routinely killing innocent civilians in multiple Muslim countries is one of the great taboos in establishment media discourse. A film that documents the horrors and Terror brought by the U.S. to innocent people — and the way in which that behavior constantly strengthens the Terrorists, thus eternally perpetuating its own justification — threatens to subvert that taboo. So this filmmaker is simply kept out of the country, in Pakistan, where he can do little harm to U.S. propaganda (as usual, U.S. government claims of secrecy based on national security are primarily geared toward ensuring effective propagnada — of the American citizenry). Isn’t it time for another Hillary Clinton lecture to the world on the need for openness and transparency? “Those societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in our internet world they will be left behind,” she so inspirationally intoned last month.


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