’The EAT Festival was to inspire hope and community spirit’

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Akthar Chanal performs at the opening day of EAT festival in Lahore, the festival ends each night with musical performances, a format that stays consistent in each city. (AN photo)
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Ali Azmat performing on night two of the EAT festival in Lahore. (AN photo)
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Asrar performing on the final night of EAT in Lahore. (AN photo)
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Asim Azhar takes to the stage on night two of the EAT festival in Lahore. (AN photo)
Updated 19 March 2018
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’The EAT Festival was to inspire hope and community spirit’

LAHORE: This weekend in Lahore was one for the books as the last leg of the EAT Festival wrapped up. There were more than 80 stalls hosting a smorgasbord of delicious foods with cuisines from all over the world, and with fresh, new food hopefuls bringing their startups to the massive event.
EAT, which has been a much-anticipated event since it began five years ago in Karachi, included performances by Ali Azmat, Asim Azhar, Aura, Fuzion and Asrar and saw people of all ages and backgrounds in attendance.
“The EAT festivals were our way of giving back to our city by revitalising its public spaces. Food was an excuse to bring people together in the least controversial way,” said Omar Omari, one half of the duo behind CKO Events Architecture and the EAT Festival.
Along with partner Aslam Khan, he decided to invigorate what was a tense and bleak atmosphere not only at home in Karachi but all around Pakistan as well.
“At the time the EAT festivals were conceived the situation in Pakistan was at an all-time low. We wanted to inspire hope and inculcate community spirit between the people of Karachi. To let them feel that just for a few days our city and this place could be a getaway from all the negativity,” Omari said.
And the public, in Karachi, Lahore and the nation’s capital, responded in kind.
“The response has been phenomenal,” said Omari. “When you are at the festival and in that space you can feel the positivity and love, and that is something money can’t buy. It is the very same reason that people keep coming back and the platform has grown over the years.
“The festival has taken on the identity of a cause more then just a food festival. It was never meant to be a commercial venture. It has been a launching ground for young foodpreneurs who have chosen the EAT festivals as their launching pad. Many successful restaurants and eateries have been established from here and have gone on to open chains.”
The EAT Festival boasts tremendous numbers in the 300,000-plus range across all three cities — a feat that has not been reached by any other festival across Pakistan throughout the year.
A notable accomplishment for the festival is its inclusive atmosphere. EAT is not for only one class or one kind of customer. It has managed to bust through socioeconomic lines to include everyone. This has been a deliberate move by the creators of EAT.
“The EAT festival was very consciously designed to appeal to a high-end customer base in terms of the branding positioning,” said Omari. “However it was also consciously designed to be very inclusive in the choice of venue — an iconic public space that sat on both sides of the bridge, so to speak — the entry fee, the food prices and the egalitarian look and feel of all the stalls eliminated the pomp and show of higher-bracket restaurants.”
Additionally, the event has both been lauded and come under fire for its strict attendee rules. They made the entry for families only to encourage families, and particularly women, to come.
“The event is entirely families only,” Omari said. “Which is a better way of saying ‘no stags.’ We have faced a lot of criticism over the years for enforcing this, but we have found it a very successful way of making the space friendly and safe.”
The success of the festivals has kept the duo inspired for more to come.
“Plans are underway to take the brand international in order to spread the love,” Omari said. “In time the EAT festivals will be just a small drop in the ocean compared with the grander scheme.”
For more photos from the event, click here.


Disney axes director James Gunn over offensive tweets

Updated 21 July 2018
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Disney axes director James Gunn over offensive tweets

  • Gunn has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and has drawn the ire of conservative critics, who went back through his timeline and dug up the tweets
  • Gunn, who has deleted his account, described himself as a “very, very different” person than when he wrote the tweets, now focusing on love rather than anger

SAN DIEGO: “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise director James Gunn has been axed from the third movie over a series of offensive messages posted on Twitter several years ago.
The tweets, mainly from 2008 and 2011, joked about taboo topics such as rape and pedophilia.
Disney, which owns the franchise as the parent company of Marvel Studios, sent AFP a statement confirming the studio was parting ways with one of its biggest stars.
“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” said Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios.
Gunn has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and has drawn the ire of conservative critics, who went back through his timeline and dug up the tweets.
Jack Posobiec of The Daily Caller and right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich are among those who unearthed the messages.
“Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” Gunn wrote on Twitter after the offensive tweets resurfaced late Thursday.
“As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”
Gunn, who has deleted his account, described himself as a “very, very different” person than when he wrote the tweets, now focusing on love rather than anger.
“My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over,” he added.
Gunn directed both “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, and was planning to head to San Diego’s huge annual Comic-Con fan convention this week with a secret film project that he had teased on Instagram.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is due out in 2020.