Peace Found Within: 'Beyond Thresholds of Conflicts' Film Festival
World is suffering due to the unprecedented increase in conflicts, wars, violence resulting in irreparable destruction of humanity and environment to an uncertain future. Peace is the only relevant and sustainable solution to make this planet happy and let people live in harmony. A fabulous two day event, ‘Beyond Thresholds of Conflict: the International Film Festival on Peace’ was held on 11-12 February, 2017 at Gandhi Bhavan, Seshadipuram, Bangalore showcased 12 fantastic documentaries and films crafted in different parts of the globe.
By and large rarely in movies are women shown as part of decision making processes or peace building efforts. They are generally represented as victims, weak and vulnerable groups in society or used as tools but not real partners in any of the fields. Incidentally it is women in today’s world who can play an enormously important role in averting violence, resolving and transforming conflicts. Many women who have experienced violence know how to restrain conflicts and to heal the wounds. Some women have demonstrated leadership of not allowing conflicts to morph into destructive forces. However, these women have been largely invisible or remained unrecognized!
The film festival was born out of belief that in a world increasingly beset with conflicts and the use of violence as the means to resolve them, Gandhian nonviolence continues to renew and offer relevant and sustainable alternatives to the violent path and that women have played significant roles in nonviolent conflict resolution in their own diverse, and often complicated contexts within their families, communities and countries. It presented soul moving documentaries, animation and fiction films that shed light on women as builders and keepers of peace from countries across the world including Sri Lanka, Tibet, India, Iran, Paraguay, Denmark, Pakistan, USA, Indonesia and the Middle East.People from all age groups, religious communities and nationality were gathered willingly to get that special connect with themselves and to subside the noise within. The program began at 10.30 AM sharp on 11th February, 2017. The great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Mr. Tushar Gandhi was the Chief Guest. Dr. H. Srinivasaiah (Gandhi Bhavan) and Ms. Jill Carr-Harris (IGINP) were the Guest of Honour.The inauguration was planned with a difference; six children under the age 18 presented their views on peace through poetry and shared their exclusive work on peace. It was then followed by a brief talk from the dignitaries on the stage reviving the message from Father of Nation for his countrymen on non-violence and peace. Next it was curtain down for the movies. All 12 documentaries and films were best of the selection, unique and mesmerizing. The event began with the film, ‘First Lesson in Peace’ that showcased the Jewish-Arab conflict through the eyes of a six year old girl, the director’s daughter, when she starts school at the mixed Arab-Jewish school. The movie was shot in Middle East. Yaram Honig is the director. He has beautifully depicted on the forced conflict amongst the children!The second movie shown was ‘Lyari Notes’ from Pakistan. It was a narration by four young girls from a Karachi neighborhood. They attended Hamza’ progressive music school and learnt what it takes to express one-self despite the cycles of violence. Music certainly helps to fight the odds and have progressive thinking.Next was a film from USA, ‘Women of Tibet: A Quiet Revolution’. It is one of the great non-violent movements in modern history. In 1959, about 15,000 unarmed Tibetan women took to the streets of Lhasa to oppose the violent Communist Chinese occupation of their country.
Movie ‘Scent of Geranium’ Iran/USA, was about the director’s experience as an immigrant from Iran in America.
It was then followed by ‘Invoking Justice’ a documentary shot in India. It was about Muslim women in South India and their challenge to the corrupt male dominated judicial system.
Last documentary of the day was ‘Daughters of the Forest’ crafted in Paraguary. It is the story of small group of girls hailing from the most remote forest on earth. Their life was transformed by attending a radical high school where they learnt to protect the threatened forest.
Day-2 started with an Indian documentary ‘This Road I know’, that highlighted the violence that runs through Nagaland and Manipur states and how it changed the surroundings.
Denmark/Indonesia film, “The Look of Silence’ was played next. A riveting story about the 1965 Indonesian genocide, the survivor family discovers their son’s murder and the killers were identified.
Sri Lanka movie ‘Dying Dreams’ was about a war widow and her son relationship in war play. It was bizarre and chilling enactments of war in a middle class home.
Followed by another film from Sri Lanka ‘No More Tears Sister’ was about Dr. Rajani Thiranagama, a renowned Sri Lankan Human Rights activist, her courageous life and brutal assassination, as revealed by her sister and husband.
Last show of the event was ‘Silence in the Courts’, a Sri Lankan movie on two women who were denied justice. The filmmaker embarks on a quest to unearth the cause of that injustice.
There was also a presentation ‘Till Then the Roads will Carry Her’. It aimed to challenge the dominant narratives of victim hood and exorcised iconography of Kashmiri women.
Along with the movies, another highlight of the festival was “Speaking Peace in Times of War” a conversation held on February 12, Sunday at 3 p.m. between a group of renowned women who have been working and writing for peace in their own contexts and in their own ways. It was led by Kirtana Kumar, with an eminent panel including Nandini Sundar, Lata Mani, Laxmi Murthy and Rohini Mohan. It was an open discussion on peace and role of women as peace builders.
Beyond Thresholds of Conflict, the film festival was successful in celebrating the role of women as peace builders in diverse ways. It also inspired the youth about the need of nonviolent approaches and actions in preventing and resolving conflicts.
Hearty congratulations to the organizers for putting up an incredible show and selecting the finest documentaries and movies. People are ready for intellectual cinema that evolves them towards the real life truth and happiness!
Organizers: Karnataka Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Bangalore Film Society, CIEDS Collective, Eco Foundation for Sustainable Alternatives EFSA), Ekta Foundation Trust, enable India Foundational Gandhian Institute for Nonviolence and Peace (IGINP), PIPFPD-KC, Radio Active CR 90.4, Infinite Souls Farm and Artists Retreat. Supported by: Bookshakthi Kendra, ECC, ITVS, Ferozes Estate, SPRK, KKNSS, NCL, Vistar.