Motion Pictures Archive of Pakistan

About Us

Motion picture production in Pakistan was started with its inception, although it had already cranked side by side with Bombay and Calcutta way back in 1924, but after the partition it took a new birth with its own identification and traditional projection of this side particularly the Punjab culture. The standard and quality of the films with comparison to West may be debatable but at the same time it was not less then any Bombay or Calcutta based movie production standard.  At the same time  it  is

Theater Poster of Pakistan's First film "Teri Yaad"

Theater Poster of Pakistan’s First film “Teri Yaad”

obvious that customarily, films were produced solely with profit orientation, with little thought to art or their long-term significance so most of the valuable movies of the past have been either misplaced or lost, a few left are incomplete or damaged due to poor handling, storage or stacking. It won’t be a surprising statement that sixty (or even much more) percent of feature films produced prior to 60s are no longer exist in any format (35mm,16mm or 8mm film prints, Video VHS), which have fallen victim to decay, destruction, negligent or lax. Unfortunately, the preservation or importance of archiving the old Pakistani films was never taken seriously by the film concerns or at any official level of government authorities. As we know that first film Daughters of Today was produced in 1924 and Teri Yaad in 1948, here question arises that can someone trace back these films or any old Pakistani films from 1930s and 40s? Unfortunately the simple answer is no as we have not preserved those films in the past. How it is sad to state that at present there is no film print of Daughters of Today or Pakistan’s first film Teri Yaad available in any form in the country.



Reasons for this Ignorance

“What could be the possible reasons for this neglect and why not earlier this important aspect was given its due attention?” The simple reply to the query is that there are some obvious reasons for this overlook. It may be due to less number of release circuits and high cost in production of film prints, the quantity of film prints which was very less, moreover, these prints used to be projected constantly for longer duration as compare to its life. Or in other words film print was used unless it was completely worn out. No foolproof arrangements were ensured for long life of film prints through safe storage and stacking. Certain reasons are discussed in succeeding paragraphs.

There are numerous reasons which may be listed for omitted old Pakistani movies but accusation of this neglect at all juncture either at distributors, exhibitors, preservation operators, projectionists or any one who comes in the handling channel of film print can not be ruled out. However, certain possible reasons for missing / loss of old movies of are summed up as follow:- 

  1. Old prints cuttingDue to heavy cost, film prints were produced in small quantities.
  2. Chemical Decomposition as mostly prints were produced on cellulose film stock which was highly flammable and unstable compound, having less span of life as it gradually deteriorates into dust. The decomposition of nitrate film cannot be halted, although in the specified conditions, it can be slowed.
  3. Film prints were used till these were completely worn out.
  4. Handling of prints in the cinemas and film distribution offices were not taken with due care.
  5. Film prints were either destroyed or not preserved in befitting manner after closer of many film distribution office due to business loss or some other reasons.
  6. In case of failure of films its prints were considered worthless purely from business point of view so were not taken care and finally were destroyed.
  7. Preservation was not even considered due to high cost of archiving films.
  8. Non professional stacking caused chemical decomposition of the prints.
  9. Color prints which are subject to irreversible fading over time. In addition, color films produced prior to 1960 using stable, Technicolor dyes are often only available in aging prints produced with unstable stock.
  10. Inadvertent, neglected attitude at official and government level i.e. non existence of National Film Archive.




What other countries are doing:

Mostly countries like USA, UK, France, Australia, Germany, Japan, China, African countries etc have established their own film archives since a long as mostly countries have not only preserved their respective films rather the first ever films are preserved and restored in different archive of the countries. Even under developed countries like India, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh are running their preservations foundations and archives to preserve their films. The Indian ministry of Information and Broadcasting had set up National Film Archive of India (NFAI) in 1964 and it was made responsible for safeguarding the heritage of Indian cinema for posterity. It is worth mentioning here that India had already established Film TV Institute of India (FTII) at Pune in 1962. Not only the preservation process which every film archive is supposed to do, NFAI is also offering film scholarships, film appreciation courses and film research work facilities for film fascinated and desirous students and to promote Indian films across the world it also organizes film festivals within and outside India. Moreover, it has a distribution library over 10,000 films, a film circle, research film studies, film appreciation courses, theatre hire and screening facilities. Likewise, Bangladesh has also set up its film archives in Dhaka in 1976 and it possesses Bangali films with cinematic material and foreign films / stuff.



Why Film Archive is Required?

After all negligence and slackness at all levels, there is a dire need of a film archive specifically to protect and preserve feature films and documentaries produced from 1924 till to-date, which are almost ninety films before partition of sub-continent and four thousand plus feature films produced in Pakistan other than the documentaries. It is added here that previously no film archive was established although National Archive of Pakistan do exists but the National Archive deals mostly with the national archival material as heritage. Therefore it is high time now to safeguard and preserve the loosing film treasure. 


Essential desired requirements of Archive

To establish a modern film archive following aspects should be addressed:

  1. To preserve the films a complex to be constructed to stack the films and film related material with temperature, humidity (with humidifiers) and dust control vaults.
  2. It should have medium side screening theater to hold the regular screening of films with film appreciation sessions.
  3. As regard to the preservation, it can accommodate all formats like 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film prints, VHS cassettes, CD and DVD along with posters, booklets, books, photo sets (film banners), manuscripts, respective film booklets, pamphlets, song books photographs, screenplays, Videos and all cinematic related material as it all would be stored.
  4. The film archive should be easy accessible to scholars, film buffs and film enthusiasts can also use these resources for reading, research, viewing, and reference. It should eventually lead to film appreciation sessions.
  5. The film archive should acquire as many Pakistani and foreign knowledge base films as possible. It should preserve and restore damaged software and related material.
  6. Film correlated government and private departments be encouraged for donation and contribution with their film and cinematic related material for the archive.



Film Archive road map:

  • An archive management or department be composed which includes all experts concerning to different departments of the archive. Proposed organogram of management
  • Archive department can be run by the semi-autonomous department under cultural ministry.
  • Archive main headquarters may be located at Islamabad while incorporating the provincial subordinate offices located in their respective provinces.
  • Being the promotional and development work it should be financially monitored under government governing body like cultural ministry based on collection of entertainment taxation. Monitory it may be supported with donations received through NGOs, generous persons and finds generated by Archival film shows, courses and research fees collection etc.
  • A archival project can also be initiated by private sector which may be worked under board of governors.




Mission of  (Motion Picture Archive of Pakistan)


Monogram of mpaop depicts a sprocket and film can to highlight the importance of preservation of film prints

(Motion Picture (Film) Archive of Pakistan) a non profit organization which was formed primarily with the aim to conserve, preserve and restore the creative work produced by Pakistan Cinematic Industry as a national heritage. Disappointingly, the importance of preservation of Pak cine was never felt previously at any stage, film gurus or even it was unfortunately being neglected at government level as well. Preservation of motion picture refers to the measures taken to safeguard and make available our film heritage, such activities range from securing storage and access, to the transferring of fragile materials, such as nitrate or fading color film, to more permanent mediums like polyester prints.

Where as Restoration of films is a more complex preservation process, one which involves the archivist’s efforts to restore a particular work to its creator’s original vision while keeping in view the present status, standing or standard of Pakistan cinema.

Film Preservation may sound a costly, time consuming and ineffectual assignment at some level but this vintage venture is accepted by the as a mission for preservation of National Heritage which would definitely be accomplished with the cooperation of cinematic related concerns and devoted and dedicated efforts of . Obviously, it is needless to say that this impossible mission is not going to be accomplished without the patronage of Government and respective official authorities of Pakistan filmdom.



Preservation of  (Motion Picture Archive of Pakistan)

has formulated preservation of Pak Cinema in following four phases:-

  • filmmags
    Phase-l. In first phase, record of all work done under the banner of Pakistani cinema was to be gathered and compiled in a sequential manner which is almost accomplished. For details read more at Pfdb
  • Phase- ll In next phase, the actual Preservation of Pak Cine would be made to conserve the endangered materials i.e. Pakistan aged movies as Motion Picture Archive of Pakistan for future generations.
  • Phase- lll Other than feature films, documentary, newsreels and other creative work would be preserved.
  • Phase- lV In last phase restoration of endangered materials and lost films would be taken in continuity to the preservation of national heritage.




Intended Intentions of(Motion Picture Archive of Pakistan) 

  • To preserve the films a complex to be constructed to stack the films and film related material with temperature, humidity (with humidifiers) and dust control vaults.
  • To hold the regular screening of films with film appreciation sessions a medium size theater hall to be established within the archive.
  • As regard to the preservation, all formats like 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film prints, VHS cassettes, CD and DVD along with posters, booklets, books, photo sets (film banners), manuscripts, respective film booklets, pamphlets, song books photographs, screenplays, Videos and all cinematic related material would be stored.
  • The film archive when set up should acquire as many Pakistani and foreign films as possible. It should preserve and restore damaged software and related material.




Chief Curator : Tahir Nadeem
Admin Coordinator : M. Shiren
Research Panel : Tahir Nadeem
    Dr. Rizwan Ameen
    Taimur Ali
    Muhammad Bilal
Consultants : Haris Waheed (Web)
    Our honorable members from Pak showbiz »
Legal Consultant : Ahmed Raza Malik, LLB
Acknowledgements : We are thankful to you for your time and concern »





burnt printsNo Doubt, all the artists and professionals of filmdom have indeed worked very hard, spent their days and nights in making motion pictures just to amuse and entertain us. Some of the films proved a master piece but what so ever their business status was; one factor is established that it became part of our cultural history. But unfortunately it’s being destroyed because of above mention reasons while neglecting its importance. Now its our duty to preserve their work so please helpinpreserving and restoring our cultural heritage. If you possess some information in shape of documents, film prints (any format like 8, 16, 35mm, videos etc) or have some query and you can be of any help in this cause please contact here