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Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort ‘Laal Kabootar’ as Its Oscar Entry

Pakistan’s Academy Selection Committee has chosen “Laal Kabootar” as its candidate for the Oscars’ international feature film category.

Directed by first-time helmer Kamal Khan, the gangland thriller set in Karachi’s underbelly follows the events that transpire when a woman in search of her husband’s killer is thrown together with a cab driver and petty criminal who dreams of escaping to Dubai. Mansha Pasha and Ahmed Ali Akbar star.

The movie, produced by Nehr Ghar Film, was released in March across Pakistan and was a critical and commercial success. It is receiving some festival play, including at the Singapore South Asian Intl. Film Festival and the upcoming Chicago South Asian Film Festival and Tasveer South Asian Film Festival in Seattle.

Pakistan submitted films for Oscar consideration in 1959 and 1963 and then stopped. It began submitting annually again from 2013, but has yet to secure a nomination.

The Academy Selection Committee was chaired by Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who has won the Oscar in the best documentary short subject category twice. She won in 2012 for “Saving Face,” sharing the award with Daniel Junge, and in 2016 for “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.”

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The 92nd Academy Awards will be handed out Feb. 9, 2020.

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