Interview with Festival Director Anam Abbas (Face International Film Festival)

The Face Film festival is a not for profit, unticketed event aiming at promoting cinema, screening the best of contemporary world cinema and providing a platform for emerging Pakistani filmmakers to screen their work. Last year  was a one day event where we hosted the Pakistani Premiere of the American /Pakistani Documentary feature “Without Shepards” and the world premiere of the film “K2 and the invisible footmen” which proceeded to screen in multiple festivals across the globe.  In our second year, our program so far includes 6 international features, a program of local and international shorts and 3 panel discussions with the industry’s most respected filmmakers.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Anam Abbas: As the only Film Festival in Pakistan’s capital, our venture seeks to support a fledgling film industry and expose audiences and filmmakers to the best in contemporary world cinema as well as allow emerging young filmmakers in pakistan to showcase their work and mingle with the industry.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

Anam: We are screening contemporary features hot off the festival circuit. We have also added three panel discussions to our program. We expect a lot more media attention and a very exciting opportunity for Islamabad to interact with filmmakers from Lahore and Karachi.

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Anam: Films have to be completed after Jan 2014 and appeal to a Pakistani audience. Our criteria is broad because we want a diversity of expression presented at our festival.

Matthew: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Anam: The entries received are staggering and competition is always steep. We judge and select by quality of film alone.

Matthew: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Anam: We are artists and film-makers ourselves. The love of cinema and desire to start dialogues is why we make films and create a culture of watching films, and especially film that showcase independant voices.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?

Anam: We are only in our 2nd year and expanding in our scope and our expected audience and impact.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Anam: By 2020 we hope to be a truly international film festival with a weeklong program, presemting Pakistani feature film Premieres and guests from around the world.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Anam: Gone with the Wind and Sholay- A classic Hollywood Melodrama and a classic Bollywood blowout.

Matthew: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Anam: Great films evoke intense emotions!

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?

Anam: Islamabad is definitely NOT the industry hub. However this allows for the nurturing of a lot of great independent talent that has already made a mark in the industries in lahore and Karachi.


Anam Abbas up in Pakistan and studied Cinema at the University of Toronto and Documentary Production at Sheridan College, Canada. She produced three short live action films and two short documentary films in Canada. I am deeply interested in creating platforms for women’s voices and exploring life at the peripheries in Pakistan.

Her documentary short “Lucky Irani Circus” about the children who work in Pakistan’s longest running circus group travelled to 5 film festivals around the world in 2015 including the Toronto International Reel Asian Film Festival.




Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


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