South Asia

Film festival 'to fix Abbottabad image' after Bin Laden

Abbottabad film festival poster
Image caption The festival in Abbottabad has had mixed success

Pakistan's first Hindko language film festival has been launched in the city of Abbottabad, in an attempt to restore its image after the Bin Laden raid.

The quiet hill resort achieved global notoriety after US commandos killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, who was hiding there, in a covert mission.

As tourism has taken a hit, a group of amateur film-makers decided to launch the cultural event.

Hindko is the language of the Hazara region, in which Abbottabad is located.

"We wanted to show the world that Abbottabad is not a terrorist haven, but a centre of culture and creativity," said one of the festival organisers, Amjad Khan.

He told the BBC that the decision to hold the festival was taken two days after the killing of Bin Laden.

The six-day festival features six of more than 20 Hindko films so far produced.

The movies being shown are produced by Hazara Productions, a company set up by a group of local actors and directors in 2005.

'Clean entertainment'

The Bin Laden operation shocked the residents of this peaceful town and there is a fear that it will scare away the seasonal tourists who fuel the local economy.

The festival began with a showing of Night on the Stonemill, a 2005 production that tells the comic story of two errant college students who get into trouble with the police, and finally with their parents.

The festival opened with music and dancing to attract the crowds, but they have had mixed success.

During the week, the audience only filled half of the 400-seat auditorium.

"Cinema is dead in Pakistan, and the current generation doesn't know what it's like to watch a good quality film in a proper theatre," explains Amjad Khan.

Women and children have been turning up at the festival because, he says, many see these movies as "clean family entertainment, as opposed to the largely vulgar Pakistani cinema".