blogflash: gorakhpur film festival

This last week has been an exciting journey into an important new territory. It began appropriately, with a screening of Jashn-e-Azadi at the closing day of the 3rd Gorakhpur Film Festival, organised by the Expressions film society of Gorakhpur, in the heart of what is known as the “hindi heartland”.

Gorakhpur is the home of the legendary publishing institution, the Gita Press, of the writer Munshi Premchand, the poet Firaq Gorakhpuri, and of course the eponymous Gorakhnath temple. (In recent years it has also emerged as the site of a particularly virulent format of right-wing Hindu chauvinism, and the importance of the Gorakhpur Film Festival has to be located particularly within this last quite considerable challenge.)

In the 60th year of Indian Independence, the festival significantly chose to stay away from the officially generated celebratory hoopla, and commemorated the event under the sobre slogan of visthapan aur vibhajan ke saath saal (sixty years of division and displacements). It opened with a screening of M S Sathyu’s classic representation of the trauma of Partition, Garam Hawa, and closed on Feb 26th with the first festival screening of our recently completed “Urdu/Hindustani” version of Jashn-e-Azadi.

The Gorakhpur Film Festival showed an interestingly curated range of films, from contemporary documentaries (Ajay Bharadwaj; Biju Toppo; Surabhi Sharma; Vinod Raja) to classics old (Ritwik Ghatak) and new (Saeed Mirza), and a whole Sunday devoted to films for children. There was also theatre, and poetry…

The very well-attended screening of Jashn-e-Azadi was followed by an intense Q&A. This was hugely helped by the fact that the GFF had brought together an excellent group of progressive writers, critics and teachers associated with the Jan Sanskriti Manch (Forum for People’s Culture); and they came from Allahabad, Basti, Bhilai, New Delhi, Patna… Once again the openness and the complex thinking that people brought to their viewing of the film was a vindication of the value of sharing an apparently complex argument. (Never complicate what is simple. Or simplify what is complex…)

In the days immediately before and after the Gorakhpur screening I have had very similiar experiences with discussing the film with groups of young college students at the Jamia Milia Islamia (Awam) and at Delhi University Arts Faculty (Premchand Vichar Manch). Already more and more groups of people have expressed an interest in using the film in India, to raise questions around the hard issues of Nationalism, and Nationality.

Could it be that the film is finally finding it’s mark…?


2 Responses to “blogflash: gorakhpur film festival”

  1. 1 sanjay joshi March 16, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Thanx for sincere and encouraging mention of our festival.

  2. 2 Unreflective June 19, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Unreflective.

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Jashn-e-Azadi is available through various online outlets like amazon

You can now buy a DVD of the film, or Download it and watch
More than two years in the making, Jashn-e-azadi [How We Celebrate Freedom], is a feature length documentary by film-maker Sanjay Kak which explores the implications of the struggle for Azadi, for freedom, in the Kashmir valley.

Click here to watch the Trailer

As India celebrates the 60th anniversary of it's Independence, this provocative and quietly disturbing new film raises questions about freedom in Kashmir, and about the degrees of freedom in India.

And here is a short Interview with the film-maker.

This Jashn-e-Azadi blog is an open forum for conversations about the film, about Kashmir, and about Azadi itself.

For more information about screenings, sales and broadcast write to


For dispatches from the present

Voices of protest can be found here or call you from here

Stone in my hand

In the season of solutions, the late Eqbal Ahmad's wise words have to be remembered

Kashmir blog has the best one line blog take on Kashmir - they call it paradise, I call it home.

Zarafshan is a Kashmiri blogger whose blog (and blogrolls) are "just ways of dispersing news, views and feelings!"

For a considered discussion on the vexed issue of Pandits in Kashmir see Kasheer. And for more on this Ephemeral Existence

And a discovery called Paradise Lost

RSS Kashmir via Greater Kashmir

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Festival screenings

May 26, 2008 / International Video Festival of Kerala
Apr 28, 2008 / Dok.Fest
Feb 10, 2008 / Himalaya Film Festival
Nov 28, 2007 / International Documentary Festival
Oct 12, 2007 / Film South Asia
July 22, 2007 / Osian’s Cinefan film festival

Previous Previews

7 Dec 2007 / School of Oriental & African Studies & Sacred Media Cow
6 Dec 2007 / Workshop Theatre, School of English, University of Leeds
Egham, Surrey
3 Dec 2007 / Royal Holloway, University of London
New Delhi
26 Nov 2007 / Russian Centre of Science & Culture & Magic Lantern Foundation

New Jersey
Oct 5, 2007 / College of New Jersey
New York City
Oct 4, 2007 / Columbia School of Journalism
Oct 2, 2007 / University of Texas
Sep 28, 2007 / Temple University
Sep 27, 2007 / University of Pennsylvania
New York State
Sep 26, 2007 / Vassar College
New York City
Sep 25, 2007 / New School for Social Research
Sep 23, 2007 @ MIT
Sep 22, 2007 / SALDA
Sep 21, 2007 / University of Toronto
New Haven
Sep 20, 2007 / Yale University
Sep 18, 2007 / University of Minnesota

Aug 10, 2007 / Pure Docs, Prasad Preview, Banjara Hills

interrupted previews!! [[ MUMBAI ...
July 27, 2007 (Fri)
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan, 85 Sayani Road, Prabhadevi
July 30, 2007 (Mon)
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Prithvi House, Juhu...]]

July 14, 2007 / Institute of Agrl. Technologies, Queens Road
July 13, 2007 / Centre for Film & Drama, Millers Road
June 13, 2007, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar Hall
June 12, 2007, National Film Archive of India Auditorium
May 29, 2007, Blue Moon Hotel
May 26, 2007, Assam Club, Laban
May 12, 2007, Hindi Bhavan Hall
March 31, 2007, Tagore Hall
New Delhi
March 23, 2007, Sarai-CSDS
New Delhi
March 13, 2007, India Habitat Center



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