Valley of Tears

Half widows is a term that most people are unfamiliar with.

Written by PriyankaPereira | Published: April 17, 2012 2:06 am

Half widows is a term that most people are unfamiliar with. So was filmmaker Nilosree Biswas,until a visit to Srinagar in 2007. “Half widows are women whose husbands have been taken away by the army,” she explains,adding,“These boys or men,between the ages of seven and 70,are falsely accused of being militants and picked up from their houses or streets. On most occasions,they never return.”

Touched by the lives of the women who lived in anticipation for their loved ones to return,Biswas decided to make a short film. And now,Broken Memory,Shining Dust has been selected for screening as part of the short film festival at the prestigious Festival de Cannes next month.

“The film is about those who have gone missing from the conflict-ridden valley of Kashmir over last two decades,” says Biswas. The film is woven around the life of Parveena Ahanger,a Kashmiri mother,and three other women who have lost their husbands and loved ones. “The narrative of the film interweaves their memories of separation and emotional catharsis,” adds Biswas. The film embarks on a narrative to share and sense their lives,revealing hours of endless wait,grief,resilience,devotion and resistance that has sprung from the time and space shared together by these women.

Although the idea germinated early on,it took a few years for the film to take shape. Biswas made several trips to Kashmir over the past four years. During each visit,she unravelled more such stories. “These women,while I shot them,had to live through the memory again and it was very traumatic for them at times,” says Biswas.

While the Kolkata-based filmmaker is overwhelmed by the opportunity to showcase her film at the international festival,she is distraught by the fact that the plight of these women remains largely unheard of. So far,she has been successful in taking Broken Memory,Shining Dust to Rome International Film Festival. “I plan to show it at festivals across India and take it to educational institutions,” she explains. Biswas also wants to partner with a major home DVD brand,so that more people get a chance to view the film.

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