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Five-day Kashmir World Film Festival: Will it help revive cinema in Kashmir?

Srinagar: The second edition of Kashmir World Film Festival (KWFF) returned to Kashmir with more enthusiasm and support from locals, eminent Bollywood personalities like Rajat Kapoor, Govind Nihalani, Aruna Raje Patel, Saeed Akhtar Mirza and others were present at the event. Local talent, Muzamil Ibrahim, Phunsuk Ladaki and a young filmmaker Rahat Kazmi were also present. Everyone at the event reiterated the fact that there is a need to bring back cinema culture to Kashmir.

The event was inaugurated by Minister of Public Affairs, Nayeem Akhtar, at Tagore Hall here. The five-day festival took place during 1-5 November. Speaking about the revival of cinema in Kashmir, Nayeem Akhtar said that going to cinema was part of a family culture earlier. It was like an event where families would come together and enjoy watching good films. We have failed the younger generation to provide them with means of entertainment.

“The whole world has cinemas. Countries like Pakistan have cinemas and even Saudi Arabia is going to open them now. I do not know why people do not think about opening cinemas here,” said Nayeem Akhtar.

Day 4 was reserved for special screening of films meant to be for children. Kids from various schools came and enjoyed watching movies.

The event is organized by Actors Creative Theatre (ACT), a non-profit organization. According to the organizers, around twenty five films were screened in the festival. Not only Bollywood and Hollywood movies, even movies made by local students from various colleges and universities were also screened.On the inaugural day, the first Kashmiri feature film Mainz-Raat (Mehndi night), produced in 1964, was screened.

Saaz, Kotar Baaz, Bangar Bazaar and other local films were screened during this five-day festival. The award ceremony was held on Day 5 with FTII gold medalist, Aruna Raje Patel as the jury chairperson. Students of the Central University of Kashmir came out as big winners with Bangar Baazaar directed by Muqeet-ul-Amin. It won the special Jury award and The Lake Town, directed by Sana Irshad Mattoo, won the best short film award.

Director of the event, Mushtaq Ali Khan, said, "We started with a first Kashmiri black and white movie as not many people know about it. I'm really excited to be part of this event.”

Eminent film director, Govind Nihlani, said that the aim of the festival is to take Kashmir to the world and bring the world to Kashmir. We will love to hear stories from Kashmir.

Vertran actress Aruna Raje Patel said, “It’s a movement and it’s here to stay forever. I wish theatres open again in Kashmir.”

Besides the film festival, a workshop on ‘Introduction to Cinema’ was held for the media students and cinema lovers. Bollywood actors, Rajit Kapoor, Muzzamil Ibrahim and others interacted with the students and shared their experiences of working in the film industry.

While talking to reporters, Nayeem Akhtar said that Government would like totake an initiative to re-open cinemas in Kashmir.

During the insurgency, all nine cinemas in Kashmir were shut down. Since then the government efforts to revive cinema have failed. Prior to 1989, Kashmir was the favourite spot for film makers to shoot their movies. Recently, Kashmir started to attract Bollywood again with movies like Rockstar, Jab Tak Hai Jaan , Bajrangi Bhaijan and others being shot in the valley.                                   

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