FEICA VS FEICA

Feica vs Feica is a short documentary (27 min. 48 seconds) about Pakistan’s veteran political cartoonist, Feica. For the last 30 years, Feica has been taking on all shades of bigotry – political, religious and social – through his cartoons. For these ‘sins’, the Karachi-based artist has often found himself in trouble with state authorities and political parties. But even stints in jail haven’t curbed Feica’s outspokenness, his non-conformism. His critics call him stupid for openly criticizing Pakistan’s power centres; for flouting the ban on alcohol by taking his hipflask to public places. But while he courts the image of a troublemaker and an irresponsible alcoholic, Feica is also a notoriously disciplined cartoonist, a canny entrepreneur, a doting father and caring husband.

This film confronts Pakistan’s contemporary socio-political realities as reflected by the public and private faces of its best-known satirist. What do these two Feicas think of each other? Who is the real Feica and what does he think? Why is he hated as much as he is admired?

This short shows the best and the worst of Pakistan though the eyes of a liberal, progressive artist. Most importantly, this documentary speaks of what resistance looks like and its future in a country eviscerated by its contradictions, its bigots and zealots.

Director’s Statement:

I grew up in Karachi at a time when art, culture and music were fading. Under Ziaul Haq, Pakistan’s omnipotent dictator, religion was used to purge society of its liberal and progressive elements. So effective was Zia’s revisionist account of history that the fabric of an entire nation was transformed. A secular, modern city such as Karachi that was once called the ‘Paris of the East’ became a loose grouping of shanties and towns driven by sectarian, ethnic and religious affiliations. And art, music and theatre were among the first casualties of this self-conscious false piety.

I’d long admired Feica as one of the few warriors who stood up against a dictator at the zenith of his power and continued fighting against the fanaticism sown by the tyrant and his cronies. When we finally met in 2009, it was perhaps inevitable that we’d hit it off and equally predictable that I’d want to memorialize his story.

But the idea for this film materialized in 2012, when I realised that the drunk Feica and the sober Feica are two distinct people. And while both have lived different lives, each has very strong ideas about the other’s journey. Hence, the idea of getting the two to confront each other, using the medium of film.

Feica’s message: “You can live without art but how wonderful a life with art” (that was the tipsy one).

Festivals

So far, Feica Vs Feica has been officially selected and screened at:

  1. 5th Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival (2016), in Mumbai, India. Screening: December 21, 2016. The film also got ‘Special Festival Mention’
    http://miniboxoffice.com/mumbaishortsinternationalfilmfestival/
  2. Fine Arts Film Festival, Los Angeles, USA. Screened on May 13, 2017
    http://www.thefineartsfilmfestival.com/
  3. 5th Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival, Kathmandu, Nepal. Will be screened between March 17-19, 2017
    http://nhriff.hrfilms.org/
  4. SHORT to the Point, Bucharest, Romania. The short has been screened on October 31, 2016.
    http://spunepescurt.ro/2016/11/05/october-2016-official-selections-short-to-the-point/
  5. FreeNetWorld, Nis, Serbia. Screened between December 15-18, 2016
    http://freenetworld.org/4

Faisal Sayani is an independent filmmaker and freelance journalist who teaches television production and the history of cinema at public and private universities in Karachi. Between 2002 and 2015, he headed current affairs departments at Geo News, DawnNews and Express News. He has also produced several documentaries on various subjects, including the 2006 Zinda Tau Rehna Hai (Life Goes On) about life in the northern areas of Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake. He’s also a passionate photographer.

 

MEDIA COVERAGE

Pakistani short film goes international

A short documentary Feica Vs Feica directed by journalist Faisal Sayani is the latest Pakistani film to have made an impact on a global scale.

After being shown at an event in Bucharest in October and slated to be shown at a festival in Nis (Serbia) on Dec 15, it will now be screened at the 5th Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival on Dec 21. The documentary focuses on the renowned cartoonist Feica and his eccentric two selves. Well, you could also call it the binary of an artist.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, December 18th, 2016

A Reasonably audacious – documentary on multifaceted Feica screened at T2F

By Zoya Anwer

“A lot of anger, some study of the type of paint used to create murals and a one-and-a-half litre of thinner, costing around Rs160, was all that was needed to restore the defaced walls of the Karachi Press Club,” said an energetic Feica as he went on to explain the much appreciated exercise carried out by him to revamp the walls defaced by a group of people, this past week.

“I am not associated with the people who painted those murals initially, but it was absolutely pathetic to see those slogans on them…So I asked my children if they would help me with the cleaning tomorrow, but they were the ones who asked me to head to KPC right then,” he added on.

This lively conversation with the artist, moderated by renowned journalist Munazza Siddiqui, was held at The Second Floor (T2F) at the screening of a documentary based on the artist – although named Rafique but known by all and sundry as Feica.

Titled ‘Feica vs Feica’, the documentary featured two sides of the artist, one who questions and the other who receives answers from his own self. The film was directed by filmmaker and journalist Faisal Sayani.

Often dubbed as impulsive, Feica’s timely move to restore the walls bearing murals of iconic Pakistani women right after they were defaced by workers of the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (PST) and Tehreek-i-Labbaik (TLY) bore witness to the fact that his actions echo of responsibility.

For those who have known the Feica associated with the Daily Dawn for over two decades, the film didn’t come off as something novel, but those who have known him through his cartoons and caricatures were in for a shock as it managed to capture the rawness of Feica as an artist. The documentary talks about his travels to Europe and United States as well as his anger, which he believes fuels him greatly and gives him positive energy, be it for his work or any other thing. “Once I stepped out of my office and saw this crane picking up cars, I just jumped onto the car and started shouting at the top of my lungs, and I kept on till the man whose car was being taken away came to retrieve it.”

Speaking about the film, Sayani said he had decided upon making a film on Feica right after his first meeting, however, the director candidly accepted that some of Feica’s opinions were too honest to be included in the footage.

When asked about an old man and a girl drawn at the corner of all his cartoons, Feica explained that the caricature signified the silent spectators in our society: “The character evolved with time and the little girl alongside him signifies my daughters, who too have progressed, because earlier the girl held a doll in her hands while now it’s a tablet.”

For an outright supporter of democracy who had had to endure two tenures of military dictatorships, namely General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf, it was obvious that Feica was not a fan of the institution, but was acknowledging of the fact that their tenures inspired him to produce some his favourite characters. “After all they ruled for 10 years,” he laughingly added.

Turned out the nimble-fingered cartoonist’s mind worked even faster when it came to satire. An example of that was his reply to someone asking him the flight duration from Karachi to Dhaka “I said ‘six pegs’ but many don’t get the reference which hinted at Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Six Points, and a former dictator of that time.”

When asked if he ever felt intimidated due to his daring cartoons, he said quoting his former editor that ‘What’s the use of a cartoon if it doesn’t cause uproar?’

Recalling whether any of his cartoons got him into trouble, Feica said he had no regrets and was happy that he was given liberty with his work.

“A few months before General Zia’s unfortunate accident, I had drawn a cartoon showing him on a flying carpet except that his carpet malfunctions, and I was later questioned by the authorities for it.”

Sharing some of his other endeavours, he said that he was trying to revive pocket cartoons – one column cartoons – which used to be popular in the past but were now close to their demise.

“I have seen this society evolve from a progressive one to a close-minded one, but I think there are people who still idealise art and know it’s worth, because artless societies are doomed to fail,” the artist concluded.

Published in The News International on January 13, 2017

 

From Rafique to Feica

 

A scene from the documentary – White Star

KARACHI: Having witnessed the highs and the multiple lows of Pakistan’s tumultuous history, Feica is considered by many as a permanent fixture to their morning, ritualistic consumption of the daily newspaper. And at T2f on Thursday, the documentary titled Feica vs Feica was aired, which painted a broad canvas of what makes him Pakistan’s veteran political cartoonist.

It is easy to assume who Feica is as an artist, but one particular incident narrated while the artist and director Faisal Sayani exchanged ideas, offered the audience an intimate glimpse. With the recent defacing of the murals of female civil society activists at the Karachi Press Club, many have shared the story of how the murals were restored within days. But what is missing from the narrative is the name of the person who actually carried out the restorative act – Feica.

Feica narrated his sadness at viewing the defaced murals. He narrated how he initially assessed the vandalised murals to assess the kind of paint used, which turned out to be an ordinary spray. “After two days I decided myself that I would clean the murals.”

Contrary to what most believe, and what has been reported about the restoration and who carried it out, in reality it was Feica, in tow with his two daughters, and a can of paint thinner.

Sayani’s documentary, a project he worked on years ago, deserted and then picked up again, was a reductionist perspective of the life of Feica that tantalised those who knew the artist in person as well as those who didn’t.

For Sayani, in all his interactions with the artist, he has seen two versions, two contrasting personalities emerge. And thus came about the premise of squaring off the versions against each other; one an antagonist, full of anger and fire, and in contrast a man who loves and is loved, and is a disciplined cartoonist.

Thus, the documentary had Feica questioning Feica, about life, his loves, his scrapes with the law and his several arrests, Pakistani politicians and how the powerful oppress, as well as his contribution to the country.

“An artless society is doomed,” says Feica at one point in the documentary. The message reverberated in the hall of T2f which has seen efforts to stamp out its creative spirit through the murder of Sabeen Mahmud.

“Anger is my energy. I make things which make me angry,” he says at another point. He recalls his anger during the era of Ziaul Haq, when sculptures were being destroyed and figurative art denounced by religious organisations as sinful. That made him angry and this anger translated into some of his best and more stirring work.

“I am a thinking artist,” he elaborated. He claims his life is a “double-edged sword, of being part of journalism as well as being an artist.”

The slap of an uncle in his youth for making figures was in Feica’s words a “turning point.” His reaction to the incident was to make a caricature of his uncle on a wall where all the neighbourhood children could view it, using charcoal picked from burnt wood. “Charcoal then became my favourite medium.”

When asked about his favourite politician to draw, Feica’s immediate response was Ziaul Haq. “I thought of taking a day off the day he died as a character was dead.”

Feica has no regrets about the life he has led. But his one lament was that the nation has not progressed while the rest of the world is progressing by leaps and bounds.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2017

Pakistani documentary maker Faisal Sayani’s short film to screen at Mumbai fest

 

DawnNews (TV) Coverage:

Film Screening (at T2F): Feica vs Feica

Thursday, 12th January 2017 | 7:00PM

Feica vs Feica is a short documentary about Pakistan’s veteran political cartoonist, Feica. For the last 30 years, Feica has been taking on all shades of bigotry – political, religious and social – through his cartoons. For these ‘sins’, the Karachi-based artist has often found himself in trouble with state authorities and political parties. But even stints in jail haven’t curbed Feica’s outspokenness, his non-conformism. His critics call him stupid for openly criticizing Pakistan’s power centres; for flouting the ban on alcohol by taking his hipflask to public places. But while he courts the image of a troublemaker and an irresponsible alcoholic, Feica is also a notoriously disciplined cartoonist, a canny entrepreneur, a doting father and caring husband.

This film confronts Pakistan’s contemporary socio-political realities as reflected by the public and private faces of its best-known satirist. What do these two Feicas think of each other? Who is the real Feica and what does he think? Why is he hated as much as he is admired?

This short film shows the best and the worst of Pakistan though the eyes of a liberal, progressive artist. Most importantly, this documentary speaks of what resistance looks like and its future in a country eviscerated by its contradictions, its bigots and zealots.

The film screening will be followed by a short Q/A Session with Feica himself and the film crew. The session will be moderated by Munazza Siddiqui.

About:
Faisal Sayani is an independent filmmaker and freelance journalist who teaches television production and the history of cinema at public and private universities in Karachi. Between 2002 and 2015, he headed current affairs departments at Geo News, DawnNews and Express News. He has also produced several documentaries on various subjects, including the 2006 Zinda Tau Rehna Hai (Life Goes On) about life in the northern areas of Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake. He’s also a passionate photographer.

Munazza Siddiqui is the Executive Producer, Geo News International, and Editor of Jang-The Economist annual publication. With journalism experience of over 22 years, she has worked in print, radio, TV and electronic media with organisations that include Daily Muslim, Daily Dawn, BBC Asia Service, PTV, Deutsche Welle, Samaa, Dawn News and Geo. She has written and reported extensively in Pakistan and across Europe.

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