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blog update: Screening @ IDFA

On Nov 28, 2007, Jashn-e-Azadi screened at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (with its ‘international’ title, “How we celebrate freedom”). This was probably the most splendid venue the film will be screened in for a while: Hall 3 of the magnificient Pathe Tuschinski, which is a huge cinema palace located in the Rembrandtplein, in the heart of Amsterdam. “The cinema opened in 1921 and it remains until today with its Art Deco interior one of the most cherished buildings in Amsterdam”, says one guide book and when you walk in, you know just why. The dark wood, its deep maroon carpeting, the under-stated over-the-top aesthetic that spells Grand Europe, such that the multiplexes of today cannot even visualise, leave alone aspire to…

IDFA, as it itself quite nonchalantly admits, is the largest documentary festival in the world: this year, over 10 days, it screened a few hundred films, and sold more than 140,000 tickets! It’s quite simply the biggest, even the brassiest, documentary event that I have ever attended, and a peep into the new world of international documentary cinema. (The short conclusion is: it’s boom time, folks, and as the closing message from Ally Derks, the IDFA director, said, “Move over Harry Potter! Of course many of the films are huge, ambitiously (and expensively) mounted international co-productions (the credits are a treat, just the list of funders usually running into dozens of names!) These are films one of course admires, but from a distance, and to it’s credit IDFA also makes place for the small, the quirky, and even the difficult and the marginal.

But what really makes IDFA are it’s audiences: I don’t think I went to a single screening (and over 5 days I went to 15) that was not nearly full, and most often it was actually over-full. Everyone, including the delegates, were queueing up for the events well before opening time. On one cold, wet, wintery, Amsterdam morning, I was in a queue at just past 9 am, but was rewarded with a ticket to attend a long conversation between the legendary Werner Herzog and the irrepressible Peter Wintonick. It was worth it, if for no other reason, than to hear Herzog rasp out “Accountants!”, his favourite term of derision, his shorthand for all the kinds of people who are inimical to the creative processes of film-making!

In the midst of all this high-voltage excitement, “How we celebrate freedom” was screened at 12.45 in the afternoon, on a working day. But this being IDFA, we had a full house! I was expecting the usual high-ratio of the “South-Asian” audience, but that was another surprise: one brown face, in a auditorium of what I guess were mostly Dutch people! Some were introduced– lawyers, human-rights activists, journaists, but the rest were just walk-ins… impressive. The stunning picture and sound (played from Digi-beta, the first time for us) was a treat, but so was the Q&A that followed, and the conversation with the audience carried on for almost 45 minutes.

As always, the next day Sanjay Kak also did a session with students, this time at the University of Amsterdam, a class on ‘conflict’ in the Political Science department, showing excerpts from the film, and then an animated discussion with a group that by and large knew very little about Kashmir. But it lasted 90 minutes, and the students seemed quite taken aback by the issues that the conflict in Kashmir raises…

[ blog flash 7 - guwahati surreal ]

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if the surreal is the criterion, guwahati would be memorable. Bar of Hotel Blue Moon converted into screening chamber. The screen which was showing music videos had Kashmir replace them. But that was it- a surreal location with not much publicity resulting in a small crowd and tepid discussion. It was sad because, guwahati has a very astute political culture and a whole conflict resolution industry in overdrive with peace talks between United Liberation Front of Axom and India going through the usual process of – non talk, army punctuation, mysterious bomb blasts. Sad, real sad this non screening. Guwahati, we will be back.


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

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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