This essay examines the missing national film archive of Pakistan against the politics of competing cultural memory. Sharing a common past yet existing in the shadows of the Indian film industry, cinema in Pakistan found itself in an unusual predicament after decolonization and Partition. While filmmaking was expected to carry the imprint of national difference, the intercultural context of colonial India bequeathed the industry its traditions and personnel. Yet when the British Film Institute repatriated colonial Indian films in the mid-1960s, the holdings went entirely to India. The lack of a public film repository denied Pakistan not only its colonial heritage but also the systematic preservation of its postcolonial film culture. In the absence of a state archive, what has emerged in the country is a democratic archive consisting of independent collectors, magazine proprietors, and avid users. Using a term extracted from one of the archives, filmaria (film fever), Siddique reads in the popular film archives the contagious circumstances of intercultural cinema. It alerts us to a film contagion widespread in the subcontinental publics that thrives on filmgoing, cinematic resemblance, and embodied cultural memory, a condition caused by the displacements of Partition and the creation of national difference.

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