The 1st Kashmir International Film Festival of short and documentary film took place in December, 2013 at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre on the banks of Dal Lake. I might sound a bit too excited but in reality how many of you were even aware of this event? Not many, I can bet.
I would like to tell you why, but before that let me quote a spectacular soliloquy by Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, after Caesar had been murdered: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.“
Quoting the line is self-explanatory.
Young people resent the fact that when some masked youth take to the streets to pelt stones or brandish flags, national news channels flash the footage for days together. However, the same media ignores any positive developments happening in Kashmir.
We the people from the Valley of Saints and Reshis have had enough adverse publicity through a cynical prism that is challenging our warm ‘Kashmiriyat’ that still defines the Valley.
New Age Kashmir will not let the good of the Kashmiris be lost amidst today’s prime-time TV debate.
Let’s present to you today, Kashmir’s only independent and non-commercial film festival, Kashmir International Film Festival.
Founded with a mission to celebrate the cinema & work of aspiring, young, independent & professional filmmakers. Its aim is to recognize the informative, entertaining & progressive new age cinema of youth & experienced filmmakers.
In Kashmir, where there are no cinema halls, in a bid to revive the dwindling theatre and film culture in the Valley, the first four day Jammu & Kashmir International Film Festival was held in October, 2014, here in the SKICC auditorium in Srinagar.
The purpose of this film festival is to promote new movie makers, exchange of knowledge, information, ideas & culture between different nations in context of their social and cultural ethos. Film is the most democratic art, thus film festivals can help maintain democracy, peace and freedom.
The purpose of our KIFF is sharing. It helps promote friendship and cooperation among people of the world through the medium of films & documentaries.
“Our aim is to organize this Film Festival just to get Filmmakers from across the world to Kashmir and show them what Kashmiriyat really means”
Aamir Rafiq Peerzada – Festival Chairman
While the festival is open to filmmakers of all age, it becomes a great meeting place for all film-makers and audiences who are interested in film as a medium and a tool of social expression. Film festivals create dialogue between people and encourage cultivating the future members of this creative industry.
Besides screening films, a workshop is also organised to make students aware about aesthetics of film-making.
In this hope to revive the dying culture of cinema in the valley a Five-day-long international film festival ‘Kashmir World Film Festival’ kicked off in November, 2017, with the screening of ‘Meanz Raat’ Kashmir’s first full-length feature film made in1964. It has even screened 30 films of different International languages.
The Kashmir shown in news channels and newspapers is just a projection of through a pessimistic glass which is being countered by the youth of the Valley. It’s a source of angst for them that the national media consistently plays to a negative stereotype where Kashmir is concerned.
Kashmiri youth are not all violent stone-pelters, they all-encompassing achievers.
The world media hardly ever mention that.
“Do you know what my favourite part of the game is? The opportunity to play”,
says American football coach Mike Singletary. The statement honors the opportunities given to individuals, who grow up to be successful in different fields. We’d like to add to the statement that any opportunity holds its importance only when people are more responsive towards it. Kashmir is known for its scenic beauty, lush green lands, snow-capped mountains, Pashmina, Art, Culture, Food and of course the extremely talented Kashmiris. The state provides ample opportunities to everyone especially youth of Kashmir to study and work in different fields. While state takes steps towards creating a platform, people have to generate the will to give themselves a chance.
Making a change through Sports
Creating the opportunity to play is one of the most important contributions by the army as it inculcates sports as an essential means to a sustainable life for the young and enthusiastic generation. A few days back, army made an effort to uphold the love for cricket among children by providing them with sports kits. The event took place in the arms of Baramulla and Sangri and is marked memorable by the following T-20 match between two schools.
It is both indoor and outdoor games that help students to assess their talent. A small initiative to organise a carrom board match depicts the presence of strong intellectual capabilities among youngsters at Chinar English Medium School. Children must seek inspiration from ideal like Afshan Ashiq, the captain of J&K Football team, who chose to avoid violence and pursue her passion that ultimately lead her to a better life.
While talking about sports, how can we forget that three girls from Kashmir proved that taking a step ahead can change your life? Manar Mushtaq, Momina Manoor, and Mehsoon Fatima won Taekwondo championship in Macau, China. Their achievement has roared from Macau to the lands of Kashmir that made every single person proud.
Sports have been used to bring a social change over the time. It promotes brotherhood and friendliness among children that help them to identify the chance of making their lives different.
Making a change through Art
Art plays a major role in developing the personality of an individual by bringing hidden thoughts and perspective to the surface. For example, if someone is good at painting, they must take a step ahead and participate in competitions, reach out to more audience, and learn more about it to make it a challenge for others. In fact, multiple workshops and competitions are organised to help children access their hidden talents.
An inter-school painting competition was organised at Youth Centre in Lunahare, Kupwara; about 123 students from 15 different schools participated in it. On the other hand, to improve the competitive spirits of students, a cultural programme was organised in Krusan. And as the list goes on, these initiatives are triggers to the availability of opportunity and one should explore and grab them to take their art forward.
Making a difference altogether
Mere heedfulness in producing opportunity is not enough, it is rather more important to address them. It is through the availability of education, regular guest lectures, and goods distribution that state stretches a helpful hand to the people while supporting them with regular medical facilities. People have to give the priority to education and development over misguidance and exploits.
Recently an interactive session on Health Education was organised for the students of Government High School, tutoring them on the importance of cleanliness and suggesting precautions for preventing diseases. In Bandzu, Pulwama, army distributed medicines to people of all age groups and conducted a health check-up. Also, to inspire students to involve more in education and sports, a wheelchair was gifted to the differently-abled girl and sports kits were distributed to students in Radbouga.
The J&K government recently launched a weekly cultural festival at Dal Lake called “Culture of Cruise”. It brings writers, musicians, poets and academics together that serve as a wide source to explore beyond geographies.
With firm beliefs and effective methods, state has been able to promote a better future for the population of Kashmir. It is time that their actions are given a response and more people step forward to make a change in their life. Kashmir is a land that gave birth to Sufism and taught us to bring everyone together using pillars of Insaniyat (Humanity) and Kashmiriyat (Spirit of Kashmir).
New Age Kashmir focuses on the opportunities that are available for people at different platforms and evoke a sense of development by creating an awareness about them. For a progressive Kashmir, we Kashmiri have to take steps forward to grab opportunities for our own good. The motive is to guide the youth to take action when given a chance because there is never a next time.