Documentary screening: Jashn-e-azadi
Workshop Theatre, School of English, University of Leeds
The School of English Postcolonial Research Seminar and the South Asian Studies Seminar present a screening of
Jashn-e-azadi ('This is How We Celebrate Freedom', dir. Sanjay Kak, 2007), a film currently being premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam.
The film is followed by a Q&A session with Director Sanjay Kak, an independent filmmaker from Delhi.
For the controversies surrounding the film, including its interrupted screenings in India, see http://kashmirfilm.wordpress.com/synopsis
"The film also serves as metaphor for many other troubled places on earth, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan. Indeed, the Kashmir experience has astonishing parallels with these other, ravaged lands: only the landscapes are different, blood and snow instead of blood and sand."
Jeremy Seabrook, The Statesman, 1 April 2007
"In this cynically entitled of films, what do these images of paradox speak of our own notions of 'Kashmir', of 'Indian Independence' and this largest of 'democracies', of even 'nationhood' - or nationalism itself? Why is it that these images take on the implication of paradox? And again, why do some of us lose sleep over these images? It is clearly not only the horrific nature of war itself that disturbs."
Roland Playle, Kashmir Affairs, April-June 2007
"The film's portrayal of the Azadi theme leads into history’s back chambers and picks up one unalterable fact: Kashmiris have resisted subjugation for centuries even though in their misery they might sometimes ridicule their own efforts of resistance."
Showkat A Motta, Greater Kashmir, Srinagar, March 31, 2007
It's 15 August, India's Independence day, and the Indian flag ritually goes up in the heart of Srinagar, Kashmir. But the empty streets and the sullen silence that greet India's claim on Kashmir spark off old questions about freedom-azadi-and the denial of freedom.
In the aftermath of 18 years of an armed struggle, with 60,000 dead and nearly 7,000 missing, death and loss is everywhere. Sometimes it's marked -- as in the dozen's of 'martyr's graveyards' that dot the valley, sometimes in the process of being uncovered as we follow a group of men involved in a 'survey of death' -- and sometimes expressed in the fractured minds of ordinary Kashmiris, who we encounter in the psychiatric ward of a city hospital.
As the Kashmiri people begin to look within their ledger of loss, we slowly prise open the meanings of Kashmir's struggle for Azadi, freedom. For this has been a liberation movement whose only flag has been its martyrs - its shahids - and whose only anthem are its slogans.
Using a beguiling mix of verite footage, rare archival material, poetry and text, the film is a provocative look at Indian democracy in the 60th year of India's independence, and a reflection on power, resistance and 'freedom's terrible thirst'.