by Misbah Saba Malik
ISLAMABAD, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Sofiya, a Young filmmaker from Malaysia, says when she first landed in Pakistan, she thought she was going to face serious security threats, based on her impression about the country from reading stories about terrorist attacks and extremism here.
But after staying in Islamabad for a few days, her impression totally changed and she realized that Pakistan is a nation of peace loving and warm-hearted people, she said.
Sofiya was not the only one who praised the country at the concluding session of the three-day Asia Peace Film Festival earlier this week, but there were more than a dozen other foreign filmmakers and actors from more than 10 countries who agreed with her.
The filmmakers visited Pakistan to attend the festival, where 900 short films and documentaries from about 70 Asian countries were showcased in Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad.
The purpose of the festival, the first ever of its kind in Islamabad, was to promote peace and harmony among Asian countries.
Amjad Bhatti, chief executive of the festival, said that he wanted to bring filmmakers from across Asia together at one platform from where they can work on the promotion of peace.
He added that they have organized the festival to promote peace with the neighboring countries and other Asian countries through cultural exchanges.
Regarding political conflicts between Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, young Afghan filmmaker Sahaara Karimi told Xinhua that people of both countries should learn from the "mistakes" of their older generation, and find a peaceful solution to all the conflicts.
Sahaara, whose film won the best Short Film Award, said she is taking the love of the people of Pakistan to her homeland and will be a peace ambassador between the two countries on her own individual level.
Director of the United Nations Information Center Vittorio Cammarota also attended the concluding ceremony and lauded the efforts made by the organizers to arrange such a good show with limited resources.
Cammarota told Xinhua that after the successful debut film festival, Islamabad should also invite films from European and American countries to spread the message of peace to the whole world.
A total of seven Chinese films were also screened at the event.
Speaking at the event, Ma Dong, dean of School of Art Engineering of China's Xi'an Polytechnic University, said that Chinese youth is doing their best to produce films and documentaries on social and cultural issues.
He lauded the Asia Peace Film festival, saying that it will strengthen understanding and cultural ties between Asian countries.
The winners at the festival got a cash prize of 2,000 U.S. dollars each and shields from the government of Pakistan.
Local audience said they have learnt a lot about cultures of different Asian countries by attending the festival.
Nasreen Sajjad, a housewife, said that she has learnt the value of peace and freedom by watching movies from Afghanistan and those based on Syria, adding that she will teach her kids to value freedom and promote peace in the society.