As films have become a powerful medium in this century, it’s time to acknowledge their potency to make a difference. Starting tomorrow, witness landmark films that canvas the conflicted Kashmir issue since Independence to the present time. Archival gems such as Storm over Kashmir made by BD Garga, a remarkable film historian and documentary filmmaker who captured the strife between India and Pakistan in 1947 over the Kashmir issue in the said film, will inaugurate the festival.
From time capsules to chronicles to featured renditions, the festival will showcase all kinds of films - documentaries, short films and features. “The festival just extended from a planned evening at the Films Division to three days of screening these films. We have brought together different kinds of films, some that are pro the movement (of secession in Kashmir) and some that are against. In a sense, these films are creating a dialogue,” shares Ajay Raina, one of the curators of Kashmir - Before Our Eyes and a known filmmaker himself.
Raina further comments that the wide selections of films will propel a debate, as the viewer is free to form his or her own perspective on the issue. For instance, Aatish-e-Chinar by Zul Vellani - which depicts the indelible presence of the erstwhile Chief Minister Shaikh Mohammad Abdullah - will reflect the Kashmiri Nationalist perspective in contrast to NVK Murthy’s A Diary of Aggression that will present Pakistan’s covert and overt acts of sabotage during the1965 war.
The screening of the films will be followed by discussions with the directors and related crew, which will be moderated by eminent journalists such as Seema Mustafa and Dilip D’Souza along with the Human Rights activist Ram Puniyani. “From 1947 to now, the films evoke the idea that the1947 or 1965 war has moved within. These wars hardly ever ended but now reside amidst Kashmiri people,” reflects Raina. He asserts that one of the USPs of this festival is that “90% films that are being shown are by Kashmiri filmmakers”. We recommend watching a mix of celebrated films such as Harud or Jashn-e-Azadi - the defining documentary along with rare opportunities such as Bub (The Father) and Valley of Saints or Mani Kaul’s Before My Eyes.