Filmmakers in the Spotlight: Nida Fatima

Author: Khawar Mahmood

“Being a woman is the biggest challenge in our patriarchal society and I believe that anyone who is capable of confronting this challenge can stand off any other challenge very easily.”

These are the words Nida Fatimah Zaidi, a very bold and courageous filmmaker and television producer. She is one of Pakistan’s most successful PTV producers making her way up very swiftly with passion and hard work.

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Nida did her Masters in Psychology from Quaid-e-Azam University also known as mini-Pakistan due to its cultural and ethnic diversity. Being a quaidian myself and a very big fan of “Alloo k Parathe” of NIP’s canteen, I bonded with Nida even before meeting her. So our small tid-bits conversation in-between filming her story went very well.

Nida says that she always wanted to do something creative. She was very creative and expressive as a kid and wrote her first poem when she was around twelve. She made her first film for a competition when she was only 22. Although she got in television by chance but she made it her passion and coined her name as a successful female producers in national television at a very young age.

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Ten years ago when Nida joined PTV the situation was very different than it is today. The specialized courses and degrees on film-making and media were not in fashion. People with the background of social sciences used to join TV. It was particularly difficult for a girl to be in this field. According to a study conducted in the USA in 2013 there are only 36.3% women in media in USA while only 16% account for higher hierarchy of top directors, writers, producers and cinematographers.

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In Pakistan, the situation is even worse, as on Global Gender Gap Index Pakistan stands at 132nd position among 134 countries. According to a report on women participation in media industry, less than 5% of journalists are women. Graph bends further backwards when we consider the situation in national television and news agencies. However, Nida, very courageously, withheld all social and systemic challenges, as the famous journalist and feminist author Tiffany Madison said,

“Never trust someone that claims they care nothing of what society thinks of them. Instead of conquering obstacles, they simply pretend they don’t exist.”

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Talking about film, Nida said that films are widely popular and their audio visual nature provides them a pervasive power for social influence. Unlike television where the views of only a limited number and segment of society can be shown, film can be used by anyone to share and express their views. Nida  appreciated the initiatives by Women Through Film wholeheartedly, particularly the Women International Film Festival (WIFFest’17) and extended her best wishes for it.

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Let’s Tell Stories

Authors: Khawar Mahmood & Hijab Siddiqui

Academy award winner producer & director Cecil B. DeMille said, “The greatest art in the world is the art of storytelling”. Everyone has some stories deep embedded in their subconscious; all one needs is some encouragement and a medium to uncover these fascinating stories in front of the world. Every story has a lesson; a good story always bonds the storyteller with its audience who then feel and experience the moments the storyteller experienced a while ago. Stories are used as an agent of change; they can alter the mindset of communities in a very effective way. Digital story telling using film as a medium, is a comparatively new field and a more effective one as well.

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Putting this faith to use, team Women through Film conducted a one-day workshop on citizen journalism and digital storytelling at Khatoon-e-Fatima school (a missionary school in Islamabad). The Women Through Film team was received by great enthusiasm by the young girls of Khatoon-e-Fatima school. The energetic bunch was introduced to the techniques of citizen journalism, story telling, and mediums that may be used to voice their opinions, and how they can become more active and responsible citizens by doing so. These included doing journalism via composing a written piece, creating photo stories, and/or making digital stories. The girls were given a space to get their creative juices flowing and came up with many interesting ideas.

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Once they shared their ideas, Madeeha Raza, the trainer, along with the rest of the team guided the students on how to develop a story line and a script, and then selecting one of the three mediums they wanted to execute their project with. One group of girls decided to film on the issue of drug addiction, while others chose topics basing around building a clean environment, issues on public transport for girls, maintaining public toilets, and many other interesting and thought provoking issues. We saw remarkable enthusiasm, as the drive to have created the best project inspired all the groups to do critical thinking, as well as film and photograph relevant scenarios to their stories.

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Though the workshop was conducted in a short period of time,it was very interactive, full of fun and learning for the participants,as well as for the Women Through Film team. The girls were excited to welcome the team again after the summer course, for a more detailed workshop, and our team is looking forward to help them build better projects and prepare for the Women International Film Festival next year.

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As theNative American proverb goes:“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in heart forever.”

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