Hamza Bangash’s short film, STRAY DOGS COME OUT AT NIGHT, has been selected for the Oscar-qualifying Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films 2020. It has also been nominated for two awards as part of the festival.
Hamza Bangash’s latest short film, STRAY DOGS COME OUT AT NIGHT, is all set to make it’s US premiere with the Oscar-qualifying Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films 2020. Considered to be one of the most prestigious film festivals in North America, last year’s edition awarded Hollywood icons Idris Elba and House of Card’s Robin Wright. In addition, STRAY DOGS COME OUT AT NIGHT, has been nominated for two awards – Best Live Action Short and Vimeo Staff Pic Award.
The Official Poster- Designed by Danial Shahzad Khan | Titles by Sila Mahdi
The film features rising star, Mohammad Ali Hashmi, and veteran performer, Adnan Shah Tipu. It tells the story of a young ‘maalishwala’ who cannot come to terms with his illness. He convinces his uncle to take a day trip to the beach, desperate for respite. The Arabian sea beckons.
The film holds the honor of being the first Pakistani film to be selected at the 2020 Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival in France. It has had an illustrious year, as it also played in-competition at the Oscar-qualifying Tampere Film Festival in Finland. The film was scheduled to tour through Switzerland, London and Canada with further selections. However, due to Covid-19, much has changed, with festival cancellations becoming the new norm.
Palm Springs will be hosting a virtual festival this year. From June 16-22, many of the films selected will be available for free on the festivals website. We sat down with the director, Hamza Bangash, and lead actor, Mohammad Ali Hashmi, to discuss what this means for them.
Behind-the-Scenes : Director, Hamza Bangash, with rising star, Mohammad Ali Hashmi
Q: Congratulations on Palm Springs. With the festival going virtual this year, does this mean we will be able to watch STRAY DOGS COME OUT AT NIGHT online come June?
HB: While I am thrilled that Palm Springs has decided not to cancel this year’s edition, I am not sure how I feel about the virtual experience. We’re honored to be included, especially knowing that this year, they had a record number of submissions. Over 6000 films were submitted, and our little Pakistani film still made it. But we made a film that is meant to be seen on a big screen, and that is why we choose to opt-out of having an online premiere. We hope that when the situation improves we will be able to screen the film in Karachi. Last year, we had the premiere of my short, Dia, at Capri Cinema. It was so exhilarating to finally be able to share the film with a Pakistani audience in one of Karachi’s oldest cinema halls. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
Q: Hashmi, I imagine this must be very disappointing for you. Were you planning on attending the festival?
MH: It’s a huge disappointment. I was planning to attend the festival, and had even gone through the extremely difficult American Visa process. We were thrilled when I got it. As an actor in a short film, you never know what to expect, so to be traveling all the way to the US with our film, it felt like a dream coming true. We had a private screening of the film in Islamabad, with the Swiss embassy, and the response was overwhelming. I’m disappointed, but completely understand given everything happening in the world right now. In this difficult time, as sad as I am to miss the festival, my priority is the safety of my family and friends. I think it’s important for us to remember to be empathetic, and practice social distancing, so that Pakistan can overcome this.
Q: Well, we wish you all the best for your future productions, and look forward to seeing the film in Karachi soon.