Jashn-e-Azadi in China!

Last week screenings of Jashn-e-Azadi took place in Beijing and Shanghai. This was part of the West Heavens initiative, developed, as its website tells us, ‘to foster closer understanding of India through contemporary art and scholarship, and develop cross-cultural dialogue based on visual culture and notions of Asian modernity’.

It’s probably appropriate that a contentious film on Kashmir should be part of a section called “You Don’t Belong”! (To be fair, the full title of the event goes on to say: Pasts and Futures of Indian Cinema & India-China Dialogue on Film and Social Thought.) Curated by the film-scholar Ashish Rajadhyaksha, the film event saw more than 30 films screened across 4 cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Guanzhou, Kunming – and at multiple venues in each city. Most remarkably, all the films had Chinese subtitles allowing the audiences a remarkable level of access.

In Beijing Jashn-e-Azadi was shown at the Beijing Film Academy, which hosted the section on The Documentary: Testimony, Home, City. The BFA, like everything that we encountered in this brief week in China, is huge, has massive infrastructure, and although modelled rather closely on the film school in Moscow (more properly known by the acronym VGIK), seems very much to be riding the boom that China is currently experiencing. First world facilities, and more than 3000 students. What was surprising for the documentary screenings was the turnout: students, faculty, and members of a film club that the BFA hosts, all showed up from the first day, and the vast auditorium (it was the “medium” one we were told) was always comfortingly full. The Jashn-e-Azadi screening was followed by what was billed as “Filmmakers’ Round Table 1: Documentary Images and the Language of Rights”, hosted by Zhang Xianmin, who is a professor at the BFA, teaching Screenwriting and documentary, and highly respected for his work in promoting the independent Chinese film. The other panelist was the very successful documentary film-maker Zhao Liang. (For more on him, you could read about his much applauded five and a half hour film Petition, or turn to this interesting profile in the New York Times).

In Shanghai Jashn-e-Azadi was screened at the Shanghai Film and TV Literature Library, a remarkable public institution where people are already queing up at 10am to enter, read periodicals and books, watch films… In a city made almost grotesque by its spectacular success with capitalism, its these last vestiges of a former socialist experiment that made one a little less despondent. The audience here was mixed too, some students, but a lot of what we would call ‘ordinary’ people. The post-screening discussion was hosted by the theatre director Zhang Xian, one of the earliest independent Chinese playwrights in the Post-Mao Era. (In the discussion he identified himself as an anarchist…)

While the audience at both back venues had negligible background on Kashmir, they responded with a remarkable openness, alert not just to the particular historical event they were witnessing, but also to the aesthetic form through which the film was trying to address it. One of the most remarkable conversations I have had about Jashn-e-Azadi was with a journalist from the Chinese language newspaper Oriental Morning Post in Shanghai. The paper has done almost a full page feature on the film, and although I would definitely NOT suggest Google Translate as a way of approaching the text, the incredibly nuanced questions put by Shen Yi made me feel that this piece of writing would really open out the film to a Chinese reader.

Finally, I cannot resist putting this picture in: forgive the vanity.

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2 Responses to “Jashn-e-Azadi in China!”


  1. 1 Anonymous December 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I love Google translate especially this
    “Yes. In fact, shooting and editing this film, I realized that it will spread in the controversial editor and I said, no matter how we do, there will always be one who is not satisfied, so we might as well make a real want to do the film and see what will be intense public reaction to what extent.”
    http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dfdaily.com%2Fhtml%2F150%2F2011%2F12%2F8%2F710903.shtml

  2. 2 Gauhar Siraj December 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Sanjay Sahib,

    Am unable to see the photos / images.

    Perhaps you could write about the ‘lack’ of liberty and democracy that you have witnessed there. Personally, I do not consider China to be as tied up and gagged as Indians think them to be.

    I am so glad that the Chinese got to see one of the best documentaries made in India in recent times.

    All the best.


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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
jashneazadifilmATgmail.com

links

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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previews

Festival screenings

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

Previous Previews

London
7 Dec 2007 / School of Oriental & African Studies & Sacred Media Cow
Leeds
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
Austin
Oct 2, 2007 / University of Texas
Philadelphia
Sep 28, 2007 / Temple University
Philadelphia
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
Boston
Sep 23, 2007 @ MIT
Toronto
Sep 22, 2007 / SALDA
Toronto
Sep 21, 2007 / University of Toronto
New Haven
Sep 20, 2007 / Yale University
Minneapolis
Sep 18, 2007 / University of Minnesota

Hyderabad
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...]]

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

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