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Army funds Pakistani films for their own Image building, says Pakistani actor-director Khalid Ahmad

The seventh edition of the Jagran Film Festival, which kick-started on July 1 will screen over 400 films this year in 16 cities

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ISLAMABAD: Personnel of Armed Forces march-past during full dress rehearsal of Pakistan Day parade. Image source: INP
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  • Just 4-5 years back, the film industry in Pakistan has started picking up, said Ahmed
  • The industry in Pakistan now has become more confident, as they now make good money.
  • Pakistani army funds a host of movies across the border, in what can also be called an “image building exercise

NEW DELHI: Veteran Pakistani actor-director Khalid Ahmed on Tuesday, July 5, revealed that many films which are made in Pakistan are funded by their army for their own image-building.

Present here for the seventh Jagran Film Festival, the filmmaker was here to hold a discussion on “Our Cinema, Their Cinema” along with Indian filmmaker Anand L. Rai, filmmaker and politician Raja Bundela and Pakistani filmmaker Shahbaz Sumar.

Ahmed said that the Pakistani army funds a host of movies across the border, in what can also be called an “image building exercise”.

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Khaled Ahmed. Image source: www.napa.org.pk
Khaled Ahmed. Image source: www.napa.org.pk

Sumar, who recently shot a short film with other prominent filmmakers of both India and Pakistan called Zeal For Unity, said that the films that are made in Pakistan are “independent films, there are no studios there. The funds come from TV networks and the army”.

About the film industry in Pakistan, Ahmed said that its just 4-5 years back that it started picking up.

“During the era of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq – when entertainment taxes were introduced, strict laws based upon ultra-conservative jurisprudence – was an obstacle to the industry’s growth in 1980, it became difficult to make movies and an industry collapsed. But it’s the last three to four years the industry picked up, the tradition of what is called Lollywood, the tradition of filmmaking in Lahore has changed,” said Ahmed, who is the uncle of Indian filmmaker Imtiaz Ali.

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Sumar added that now the industry in Pakistan has become more confident, as they now make good money.

“We now have 40 working screens. The middle class is now coming up like crazy, there is a lot of cash in hand. There are lots of people now who want entertainment. This is you can call the take-off point for the Pakistani film industry,” Sumar said.

The seventh edition of the Jagran Film Festival, which kick-started on July 1 will screen over 400 films this year in 16 cities. The five-day Delhi leg of the festival ended on Tuesday. (IANS)

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  • Aparna Gupta

    It is a very serious revelation regarding Pakistan’s Army. Instead of funding, they should make their image themselves.

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Meet Kelly Oliveira, Brazilian By Birth But ‘American’ By Heart

Embarking on a 'new journey'

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Kelly Oliveira reacts after becoming a U.S. Citizen during a naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland.
Kelly Oliveira reacts after becoming a U.S. Citizen during a naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland. VOA

When Brazilian native Kelly Oliveira signed up for the U.S. Army through a program that offered her citizenship for her service, she thought she had it made.

But it took two years for the army to work through the added background checks. During that time she struggled to remain legal.

Oliveira finally made it through the process and was sworn in as a citizen last week.

She took the oath on a day designated to honor the U.S. flag, a group of 28 people from 18 countries became American citizens at the historic house where the flag that inspired the national anthem was made.

“I learned to love this country that I adopted as my own. … I’ve always [thought] of myself as an American by heart,” she said.

But it took 13 years to make it official. On a day designated to honor the U.S. flag, a group of 28 people, including Oliveira, from 18 countries became American citizens at the historic house where the flag that inspired the national anthem was made.

“It’s been a long journey. … Of course there were moments that I was thinking ‘Should I continue waiting?’” she said.

Oliveira’s wait was due to changes in a military program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or MAVNI reported on by VOAlast December. It was launched in 2009 to bring immigrants with medical or language skills into the armed services.

Kelly Oliveira examines paperwork before her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland.
Kelly Oliveira examines paperwork before her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland. VOA

She enlisted in the Army in March 2016 under MAVNI, which promised her citizenship in exchange for service.

Enlisting for status

Oliveira had tried other ways to stay legal. But nothing worked.

“I went to school and I had my OPT, and I got a teaching position job as a preschool teacher,” Oliveira said.

The OPT or Optional Practical Training allows international students with an F-1 visa to work in the U.S. for up to one year in a field related to their studies. She tried to get a work visa through the schools where she was employed at the time.

“Unfortunately the school where I was working at; they could not [sponsor] me,” she said.

That’s when she entered the MAVNI program. But on June 2016, the program was shut down, which affected Oliveira’s enlistment.

The U.S. government retroactively required background checks on anyone who had enlisted in the military through the MAVNI program, including anyone who was currently serving or waiting to be shipped to basic training.

For Oliveira that meant a two-year wait. She went to training drills and struggled to stay legal.

Those who witnessed her journey said it was tough. “I don’t think I’d be able to do it because it’s, I mean, it’s been a, it’s been a long journey. It’s been a struggle and it’s, it’s been like a nightmare,” Lauren Schroeder, a D.C. native who has been friends with Oliveira for many years, told VOA.

“I mean the down was the fact that it took so long. And I guess the up is that she was able to join the military and get a citizenship that way. So finally, it happened,” Schroeder said.

Kelly Oliveira, during her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland
Kelly Oliveira, during her naturalization ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland, VOA

Embarking on a ‘new journey’

Margaret Stock, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who created the MAVNI program, told VOA she is not surprised by Oliveira’s successful story.

“That’s what’s supposed to happen. They’re eligible for citizenship and they’re supposed to be able to get it quickly,” Stock said.

But the retired Army lieutenant colonel said, even though there are stories like Oliveira’s, lots of recruits are still falling out of status due to the additional checks.

“So people are timing out and they can’t ship out to basic training until the [U.S. government] completes all these background checks,” she said.

In a previous interview with VOA, Stock said everyone who wants to serve in the military has to go through background checks but the government was already doing a lot more background checking on the MAVNIs.

“They are the most checked group of people that entered the U.S. military,” Stock said adding this is an investigation normally done on someone getting top-secret clearance with the U.S. government.

On Flag Day, Oliveira signed the papers. She checked in with immigration officials. Then the ceremony started.

Also read: Indian-American Diaspora Plays an Important Role in Country’s Development

“Sky’s the limit for me now it’s just the beginning of my new journey. Now I’m going to basic training in a couple of months, and I’m very excited about that,” Oliveira said. (VOA)