As part of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration, the inaugural Jubilee Arts International Film Festival was held in Lisbon last month. NOS Cinemas at the Vasco da Gama mall in Portugal’s capital hosted over 20,000 visitors, who watched film submissions screened in six movie theatres over the course of four days. 

The festival received 54 high-quality film submissions from all over the world, exemplifying the diversity and talent existing within the global Jamat.

Set in Africa, Doomsday Beckons Change shed light on the devastating impact of climate change, and aimed to promote an increased awareness of environmental sustainability. Kenyan filmmaker Amyn Khan used the lens of faith as a reminder of humankind’s responsibility to conserve and protect the natural environment, and to create rather than further deplete. Amyn said he would like the film to encourage people to think about “an increased use of renewable energy sources, planting of trees, curbing pollution, and leaving our world in a better environmental state for future generations.”

A submission by Zeeo Zia and Fayeem Avzl from Hunza, Pakistan, entitled The Last of the Wakhi Shepherdess told the unique story of a courageous and determined individual, keeping the centuries-old tradition of shepherding alive. The shepherdess deserts her home to live and work high up in the mountain pastures of Northern Pakistan, persevering in the face of extreme and harsh conditions, with little contact from the outside world.

Ayaz Palma from Portugal travelled to the United Arab Emirates to create his film Islamica, which presented the people and unique landscapes of the region. His aim was to capture the facial expressions of people going about their everyday lives, and to promote increased eye-contact, thus acknowledging the presence of others.

Explaining why he chose to shoot parts of the film in slow motion, Ayaz said “in slow motion we can have proper time for that moment of the other person, and to enjoy the moment of the look of the eyes of the person. And that’s my passion; my passion is to connect people again, look at people in the eye, connect, get into their soul and let them in.”

The International Film Festival received numerous other submissions from filmmakers around the world, including Benazir Karim from Tanzania, and Farah Merani from Canada. All participating entrants were invited to an exclusive red carpet opening event, attended by acclaimed Indian film and stage actor-directors Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak.

The festival also provided an opportunity for budding directors and cinematographers to hone their craft. Moderated panel events allowed participants to hear from professional and amateur cinematographers and directors about their experiences, while a Children’s Animation workshop invited youngsters to learn the basic skills of filmmaking, and create their own stop-motion and cut-out animation.

Jubilee Arts volunteer Heena Jiwani from the USA explained “The Film Festival was not only a platform for filmmakers to showcase their talent, but also for those of all ages interested in the industry and the art of filmmaking to learn more through the various panels, master classes, and workshops. It was incredible to see the accomplished group of guests the Jubilee Arts team had lined up for everyone to interact with and learn from.”