Kashmir film festival put off till March amid security concerns
Working to revive the lost film culture in the valley, the fifth edition of the Kashmir World Film Festival (KWFF) that was to begin from the first week of December has been cancelled following the shutdown and restrictions after the abrogation of Article 370.
The seven-day festival is the first of its kind in Kashmir as cinema halls are shut here. It is being held in the city since 2017 and has seen four editions till last year. The organisers had been working to hold the fifth edition since May.
Mushtaaque Ali Ahmad Khan, a local filmmaker and the festival director who has been organising the festival with the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Pune, and sponsors, said the new edition has been put off till March 2020.
“We had to call the festival off at the last moment due to security concerns,” said Khan, a theatre actor since 1988.
Khan said the festival is aimed at bringing people of Kashmir on one platform and screen world-class films for them. “The culture of watching films together is lost now. This festival has been bringing film lovers together to watch national and international movies,” he said.
The past editions of the festival received entries from countries such as the US, Italy, Spain, Jordan, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey. The festival has received films in regional languages too, including Bengali, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Assamese.
The festival has been attended by actors such as Tabu, Madhur Bhandarkar, Rajit Kapur, Anjum Rajabali, Arunaraje Patil, Komal Nahata and Raj Bansal.
“Kashmir is home and I feel privileged to be here. It’s great that such initiatives are being taken in the valley. I congratulate the organisers,” said Tabu.
Kapur said the festival provided young filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their talent. “The festival screens Kashmiri films made by local filmmakers. They get encouragement and appreciation here,” he said.
There were 15 cinema halls in the Kashmir Valley in the ’80s, of which nine were in Srinagar. The famous among them were Broadway, Regal, Neelam, and Palladium in Srinagar. After militancy surfaced, most theatres were turned into camps for security forces, while others were converted into hotels, shopping complexes and even a hospital.