A bouquet of films that hold a mirror to India under the present regime will be showcased at a two-day film festival in Kolkata, which opens on Saturday.
One of the films, Siege in the Air, shares accounts of Kashmiri women in the aftermath of the scrapping of the state’s special status in August 2019. What followed is a prolonged restriction on telecommunications and the Internet, which crippled life in Kashmir.
Another film, Lynch Nation, documents the disturbing rise of cow vigilantism and Hindu nationalism in India. The film is told from the perspective of eight families affected by the spate of mob lynching in heartland India.
A third, titled Noor Islam, focuses on a slice of the life of its protagonist, — a “victim” of the National Register of Citizens in Assam — to highlight the ordeal of many like him.
The films will be screened at the Anti-Fascist Film Festival at Mahajati Sadan. It is being organised by a forum called Bengal Against Fascist RSS-BJP, which had come into being in the run-up to the Bengal Assembly elections, and the People’s Film Collective, an independent, people-funded body that screens films and hosts conversations.
Bengal Against Fascist RSS-BJP had launched the No Vote To BJP campaign in the run-up to the Bengal polls. The campaign had played a key role in mobilising opinion against the Right-wing juggernaut.
“The forum came into being in the run-up to the state elections to combat the rise of the RSS and BJP. But it is not only an election-oriented platform. We have always stressed the need to fight the BJP on the streets...” said a festival concept note. “Fascism always use spopular culture mediums as tools of propaganda. Cinema and literature are the foremost among them. Our aim in organising a film festival is to tapan India that is now hidden behind the cloak of hate, a country that is inclusive,” it said.
Along side the screening of 14 films, the festival will have musical performances and speaker sessions. Little magazine stalls will be set up inside the venue.
Rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan will give the key note address on Sunday. Tribal rights activist Himanshu Kumar will be among the speakers on Saturday. Alt News co-founders Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha will be part of a panel discussion on Sunday.
There is no entry fee and everyone is welcome, the organisers said.