Dear friends and comrades,
Among some of the very disturbing images of State violence in Kashmir in recent times, the images of innocent young people blinded by pellet guns, the image of a Kashmiri man being tied to a jeep as human shield, and the image of a protester being mowed under a army jeep, have shaken the conscience of the world. Very recently the United Nations Human Rights Council has brought out a damning report on the situation facing the people of Kashmir, which the Indian government has rejected. The release of this report was followed by the dastardly assassination of renowned journalist Shujaat Bukhari. This incident was followed by the Government calling off the one-month ceasefire, and BJP promptly pulling out of the BJP-PDP alliance government, which has led now to governor’s rule in J&K.
In this context, to make sense of the situation and to go over some contemporary history, let us gather to watch Sanjay Kak’s acclaimed magnum opus on Kashmir, Jashn-e-Azadi. We will also listen to a short audio-visual presentation which focusses on incidents in the past decade of 2008-2018, with an intent ear to the voices of people of the valley.
Please take your seats by 6 pm. As always, seating is on first-come-first-seated basis.
People’s Film Collective
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/435443673607118/
People’s Film Collective
Monthly Film Screening & Conversations
“KASHMIR, NOW AND THEN”
8th JULY | SUNDAY | 6 P.M.
JOGESH MIME ACADEMY (KALIGHAT PARK)
Kashmir in the past decade: 2008-2018
Screening Jashn-e-Azadi now
by Sanjay Kak
(How We Celebrate Freedom)
Dir: Sanjay Kak
Kashmiri, Urdu, English (English subtitles)
138 minutes / 2007
Contact: 9163736863 | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s 15th August, India’s Independence day, and the Indian flag ritually goes up at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar, Kashmir. The normally bustling square is eerily empty– a handful of soldiers on parade, some more guarding them, and except for the attendant media crews, no Kashmiris.
For more than a decade, such sullen acts of protest have marked 15th August in Kashmir, and this is the point from where Jashn-e-Azadi begins to explore the many meanings of Freedom–of Azadi–in Kashmir.
In India, the real contours of the conflict in Kashmir are invariably buried under the facile depiction of an innocent population, trapped between the Terrorist’s Gun and the Army’s Boot. But after 18 years of a bloody armed struggle, after 60,000 civilians dead (and almost 7,000 enforced disappearances), what really is contained in the sentiment for Azadi–for freedom?
Amidst the everyday violence and ever-present fear in Kashmir, there are no easy answers to such questions. Where truth has been an early victim, all language–speech, poetry, even cinema–becomes inadequate to describe what we know and feel here.
So we reshape our curiousity, and point ourselves at what we can see, what we are allowed to see. The film then combines several forms and modes of expression to evoke the past as well as unravel the present:
We are witness to an ageing father in the Martyr’s Graveyard; we are with a group of men as they survey the dead in the mountain villages of Bandipora; we sit quietly in the Out Patients Ward of the Govt Psychiatric Hospital in Srinagar.
But we look elsewhere too, in the satirical farce of Bhand folk performers as they play in a village square; in the tense undercurrents of an Army Sadhbhavna (Goodwill) camp in north Kashmir; and in the images conjured up by the work of contemporary Kashmiri poets.
Shot and edited between August 2004-2007 Jashn-e-Azadi engages us with the idea of Azadi in Kashmir.
In 2007, as India celebrated it’s 60th anniversary of Independence, this is also a conversation about Freedom in India.
Sanjay Kak on the audience reception of Jashn-e-Azadi
“When Jashn-e-Azadi first began circulating in 2007, we were fully conscious of the chill silence within which it would speak up in India (and perhaps the world). What took us by surprise was the unexpected openness with which it was actually received, and the speed with which it was circulated. Viewers did not embrace it as some ultimate truth about Kashmir’s recent history, and we would not have wished for that either. But they saw it as a reading that contested the accepted (and carefully constructed) consensus of events in Kashmir.
There was flak too, mostly from a handful of groups seeking to create a legitimacy for their own limited agendas, trying to muddy the waters where a real conversation about Kashmir seemed about to happen. There was also a more silent disapproval, this one from an unexpected quarter: the Left/Liberal/Progressive space, those whose commitment to their own ideologies allowed them to transcend what was happening in front of them. The cycle of protests that convulsed Kashmir in 2008 and 2009 and 2010, the years immediately after Jashn-e-Azadi appeared, seemed to confirm many of the unstated ideas of the film. Almost ten years later Kashmir is once more torn apart by protests, and we can ask ourselves the old questions again. But most of all it is a moment to start speaking Kashmir again. Start speaking Kashmir now.”
PEOPLE’S FILM COLLECTIVE
Phone: +91-9163736863 (also WhatsApp)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KolkataPeoplesFilmFestival/ (page)
People’s Film Collective is an independent, autonomous, people-funded cultural-political collective based in West Bengal. Formed in 2013, it believes in the power of films as a weapon of pedagogy as well as alternative media for people. PFC organises monthly film screenings & conversations in Kolkata and travels in Bengal with films & movemental videos. PFC organises two annual film festivals – the ‘Kolkata People’s Film Festival’ (KPFF) and the ‘Frames of Freedom’ and publishes a magazine (Pratirodher Cinema). PFC collaborates with like-minded collectives of the working class and people’s movements.