‘Doosra Chashma’: ‘Aalav’ Steals Show at MERC’ s International Film Festival



MERC Film FestivalA two-day international film festival: ‘Doosra Chashma’ started in Kashmir University’s Media House Auditorium on Wednesday.

On day first, the event featured gender-centric films aiming to appraise gender sensitivity across different cultures, traditions and languages, and looking at things from a gender perspective.

The festival is being organized by Kashmir University’s Media Education Research Centre (MERC) in collaboration with Population First, a Mumbai based NGO.

The film festival follows a two-day ‘Media and Gender’ Workshop that concluded on Tuesday.

Coordinator MERC and Filmmaker, Faruq Masudi inaugurated the festival.

 A total 13 films were screened on Day first which included 12 short-films made in various parts of India and an animated film from Denmark.

MERC Film Festival Penal DiscussionThe festival started with a two-minute non-verbal short-film ‘Is it just a game?’ by Shakuntala Kulkarni, a Mumbai-based film-maker and painter. The film was based on a theme of ‘gendered imbalances, sexual harassment and a pervasive sense of anxiety’.

It was followed by a set of four short films: Call 103, How far should a Woman go?, Chasni, and The Ballad of Leela-Laila; all of them carrying a theme of ‘Dreaming free: Exploring Shades of Gendered Resistance’.

Soon after these films, a panel comprising of Faruq Masudi, Dr A L Sharda (Director Population First), Preeti Gopalkrishnan (Programme Director Population First), Peerzada Ashiq, Srinagar Bureau Chief of The Hindu, MERC faculty members: Nasir Mirza and Dr Sabeha Mufti, discussed the themes amongst themselves and a number of media students attended the festival.

The films which were screened in the afternoon session included Kaveri, Arre Baba, Two Sisters, and Aalav which revolved around themes including: bodies and minds, home and belonging, memories and forgetting (and how gender operates through it all).

In particular, Aalav, a 12 minute short film by Shailesh Shetty depicted the aftermath of political turmoil in the Kashmir Valley as it casts a perennial shadow on the life of a displaced Kashmiri Pandit family now settled in Mumbai.

During the panel discussion, Peerzada Ashiq deliberated on the films screened and appreciated the camera work and the themes that they portrayed.

“About Aalav, I rate it as one of the best films shown during the day; actually in Kashmir it is difficult to bring a closure to emotions among all communities given the circumstances faced by each of them,” Ashiq said.

On the occasion, Director Population First, Dr A L Sharda said that there is a “need to have a 360 degree approach to gender based sensitivity”.

“We have good laws but they are implemented badly, we need to work on the mind set of people and the strict implementation of laws,” Dr Sharda said.

The last session screened another set of four short-films: Co-Exist, Girl in a Box, Moi Marjani, and Beyond the Wheel. All of them were based on themes: politics of difference and dreaming free.

Day one of the film-festival ended with a panel discussion. Day two would feature a few movies from Pakistan as well.

(The reportage and photographs of the film festival have been contributed by students of the MERC.)


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