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Kashmir Coverage @MIAAC Film Fest in NY
November 11, 2009 by Adriane
The Tahaan / MTV Iggy / Zerobridge Event Poster
This week in New York, the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Fest is showing a slew of great movies from Southeast Asia, and we’ve already filled you in on some of the films we’re looking forward to.

But we here at MTV Iggy are most excited to see the selection of films that will come to New York from the region of Kashmir — the disputed territory between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China, whose residents have been ravaged by wars and forced to live out their lives within the bounds of refugee camps.

We’ve made working toward peace, civil rights, and humanitarian aid in Kashmir one of our spotlight causes, and you can learn how to help out here at Help Change: Kashmir. Start out by reading our wrap-up of the region’s tumultuous history — “The Story of Kashmir” – which sweeps from 1947, when British rulers pulled out of power to today, when Human rights groups have reported over 70,000 casualties and 200,000 fleeing refugees.

Why am I talking about this? Because we recently put together videos about the region that showcase the voices of those who live there and are affected by the violence, which will be shown before the festival’s centerpiece Kashmir film, Tahaan, at the MIAAC festival on November 13th. The after-party will even feature Iggy fave band Zerobridge! The tickets for that special event are available here.

Read on for a wrap-up of the Kashmir-related events at MIAAC. Tickets and further information are available here.

At New York University’s Tisch School on Friday, November 13 at noon, MTV Iggy producer John Halpern, who is in process on his own film, Kashmir Once Paradise, will be joined in conversation with Sanjay Kak, the director of How We Celebrate Freedom — a feature-length documentary on the struggle for freedom in Kashmir.– and Sanjay Suri, an actor in Sikandar and a producer of I Am. The panel discussion will be chaired by Princeton History Professor Gyan Prakash. Visit the Tisch website for more info.
Stills from the film
Tahaan is the gorgeously-shot story of an eight-year old who embarks on a journey to reclaim his best friend: the family donkey that was seized by debt collectors when his grandfather died. Tahaan is a boy from whom everything has been taken away — three years earlier, his father disappeared and his family is haunted by that loss. Now he must travel past the same mountain range where his father was last seen — and we quickly learn the hills are still dangerous, as naive Tahaan is thrown into a terrorist plot to sneak a grenade across borders.

But the film is not all action. It is a portrait of the gorgeous Kashmir valley –  one of the world’s current most-dangerous regions. Director Santosh Sivan has heightened the beauty by actually painting some of the celluloid (a technique he may have borrowed from Iranian films, such as those of Majid Majidi’s and Abbas Kiarostami). Dear Cinema wrote:

Tahaan is about the real Kashmir, without any preaching and without taking sides. It touches every aspect of the life of Kashmiris- the family waiting for the only man in their house, cross-border terrorism, unknown fears and a universal message hidden in the simple narrative….It is as if Santosh’s camera becomes a mere spectator of the happenings in young Tahaan’s life. No one seems to act and nothing seems made up.

Tahaan is playing at MAD, 2 Columbus Circle, New York City, on Friday November 13 at 6:00 PM.

A still from the feature-length documentary on the search for freedom in Kashmir
Sanjay Kak, a Kashmiri filmmaker, has painted a portrait of the country of his youth and its relationship with politics, with freedom, and with the idea of independence. But the 2007 documentary is the opposite of preachy. Instead, by layering archival footage and contemporary clips, Jashn-e-Azadi simply shows viewers the historical and political landscape of Kashmir — allowing them to come to their own complex conclusions about its government. Kak cuts from an aging father in a graveyard for martyrs, to a harried scene at the psychiatric hospital, to scenes of a gun-toting army,  to orphans declaring their luck at survival. At International Cry, reviewer Farah Aziz found one scene particularly moving:

A teenager girl describes the body of a young man in the neighbourhood, killed during an army operation — “The body is lying in the crossroad amidst the houses, no one is allowed to approach, even the dog did not go near it.” Her stoic, flat voice communicates a long endurance.

The film is playing at Tribeca Cinemas on Saturday, November 14 at 4:00 PM.

Sikandar follows a boy growing up in Kashmir

Written and Directed by Piyush Jha.
India, 2009, 107 min. In Hindi, with English subtitles. Festival Premiere. Sanjay Suri in person.

How to tell the story of Kashmir’s prevalent violence to outsiders, who find it difficult to grasp something so far-reaching and terrifying? Embed it in a thrilling narrative, of course.

Sikandar is a boy, growing up in Kashmir, who’s life is pretty normal until he finds a gun in the road. Then, he becomes enamored with its power, embroiled in plots to use it, and finally taken advantage of. With multiple plot twists that leave the viewer completely surprised, this is a thriller set against the gorgeous Kashmir valley and tells a story that could only be told about this land. Says RealBollywood.com,  “While many films have earlier been made on the terrorism issue in the state of Kashmir, what sets Sikandar apart from them is the way Piyush Jha has managed to strike a balance between the child’s viewpoint and the adult’s dangerous games.”

The film is playing at Tribeca Cinemas on Saturday, November 14 at 7:00 PM.

Source: http://blog.mtviggy.com/2009/11/12/kashmir-coverage-miaac-film-fest-in-ny/
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