I would like to take the privilege of breaking an awesome news for women rights advocates and film enthusiasts! ‘Women Through Film’ is excited to host Pakistan’s first Women International Film Festival in March 2017. Get ready to be moved as the forum will present some remarkable films and delightful performances by and about women . Women Through Film is a Pakistan-based initiative that promotes and empowers young women’s perceptions, vision, and understanding of life through powerful short films.

As the festival aims to highlight the important issues and ideas that are important to women today, the films for this year will be focusing on three themes; Violence against Women , Gender Equity and Women of Wonder.

Having met the Founding Partner and Program Director, Mariyam Nafees, I got to know about the aim of the event which is to attract film fanatics, international women directors, actors, experienced business professionals, scriptwriters, and the producers of film and television. Mariyam was very hopeful that this event would help everyone to come together and bridge the gap that often makes the women’s point of view very hard to understand.

Knowing about the ingredients, about which I cannot open up right now it's like the film festival itself will become a thing as the event was not be like any other basic events we see happening every other day. It will be a whole entertainment package for everyone out there, as it will not only comprise the screening of the top films praised from around the world, panel discussions with industry officials, and prize distribution observance, but also a women-led exhibition, which is a pleasant opportunity for the entrepreneurs to set up their kiosks, and a fun-filled closing night with an all-female musical concert caught the attention of women and families, something Pakistan has never seen before.

The two women who brought forward the idea, Madeeha Raza and Mariyam Nafees, are young, passionate and hardcore feminists, having faced their individual set of struggle as women , and are now adamant at curbing the disturbing issues of gender disparity and gender based violence from our society through arts.

Madeeha, who is an independent filmmaker herself, started this movement for young women as she faced this huge gender gap in this field. In her attempt to provide a friendly environment for young women to come together, to learn the art of storytelling and the artisanship of filmmaking, and appreciating the work of each other. Madeeha started this endeavor by holding workshops and training sessions exclusively for women , thus encouraging young women to learn to use film as a tool for awareness, social change, even entrepreneurship and raising funds for causes they cared about. Her vision is to bring women’s perspective and their voices to reach the limelight.

Mariyam, who brings her own unique strength to this duo, had always supported the cause, even before she was a part of this project. Since joining as the founding partner, she has been investing all of her energy and strengths into this kind of initiative. She is an incredibly dedicated partner, a TV artist by profession, has been working tirelessly to promote the ground activities this project is associated with, as well as to develop the film festival as a brand with which the audience can relate.

A jury panel will finalise the films for screening, depending on the quality, relevancy and other predefined criteria. The jury members comprise of both local and international names; Marilyn Agrelo, a producer/director from New York, Haya Fatima Iqbal, documentary filmmaker and journalist from Pakistan; Yasir Jaswal, music video and film director from Pakistan, and Mandy Sanghera, an international human rights activist from United Kingdom, as they wait on a couple of more high-profile filmmakers to confirm. Corrective talk is rarely a fun factor for the audience, yet this team has the most humble, cheerful and classy stars like Osman Khalid Butt, Adnan Malik, and Nadia Jamil. These individuals will shed light on the role women can play in filmmaking to raise awareness on gender-based issues to alter mindsets and behaviors.

All the ladies out there, having passion for filmmaking, get up and start working on your film projects, because if you are 'a young woman' with a deeply moving and heart touching story, or even if you are yourself a victim of the gender issues, play your part by being a change maker of this society, as the festival is accepting short films, documentaries, public service announcements, and animated films.