With the recent uproar of debate, scrutiny and dialogue regarding the Indo – Pak relations, all forms of media representatives have set a magnifying glass on every move on both sides of the border. Pakistan and India has had a history that none can deny, it has become accustomed in the people of both nations to either have a strong opinion or none at all, as it is a recurring element the youth of every generation since partition has grown to learn. If not explicitly told, we have grown up with the implied perception that hate has been the foundation for separation. However, where there has been extreme negativity there is the other extreme on the spectrum, on both sides of the borders. This positivity has been seen in the views of the youth of both nations. The youth no longer believes what they have been told.
Pakistan and India have come in contact for military conflict four times in the past 7 decades of its independence. The fears of history repeating itself today are at a new high, despite the efforts to ease the tensions. Both the Indian and Pakistani populations have a mixed aura of responses and reactions to the current political and diplomatic relations, but what is common in all is that EVERYONE has an opinion. With the up rise of digital media, many more have the accessibility to voice their thoughts, and whether it is welcomed or not by others is a whole new story.
Both nations share similar cultures and the fondness of film, music and dramatics. The recent exchange of artists and crossover appreciation of work born in both countries has not only brought the people together but allowed the common man to question every negative thought held subconsciously. The importance of this similarity is more than it ever was now in this day and age. The ability to capture an opinion, translate it on a medium and deliver a message to anyone has become a simple task.
Having this view in mind, the 60SIFF team put their heads together to create a productive discussion on the impact that filmmaking has always had and still can in defining and building upon a relationship amongst the neighboring states, and what better platform than the twitter-sphere. With a group of experts the team set out to initiate a positive dialogue between the youth of Pakistan and India on how the art of visual storytelling can be used to promote peace and harmony. The Twitter chat began at 8:00 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. IST with the esteemed experts including Asra Nomani (@AsraNomani) Former Wall Street Reporter, Vaishanavi Sundar (@vaishax), Writer and Filmmaker from India, Beena Sarwar (@beenasarwar) Journalist and Documentarian and Haya Fatima (@hayafatimaiqbal), Academy Award winning Producer from Pakistan.
These experts answered questions regarding how exactly the medium of film can be utilized for the purpose of disseminating peace messages between the audiences of the nations. The hashtag #FilmForPeace reached out to a vast audience all around the world enabling a healthy debate on creative ideas and platforms that may be helpful in the process. The debate was welcomed beginning with appreciation of neighboring artists that had recently been sent back to their homes and films that had harbored a peaceful relationship.
However, towards the end of the chat many took up the opportunity to voice their criticisms in this regard. The focal point for negativity was the conflicts of the nations, mainly disputed territories. This only gave an opening for the experts and peace lovers to counter the backlash with positivity and well thought responses in 140 characters pointing towards a conflict resolution approach.
Nevertheless, the chat left a footprint that Saturday night, and raised a question mark in the mind of many. The objective was to encourage the overflow of truthful reactions regarding the situation and with the help of filmmaking and to translate these reactions in a peaceful and productive manner. 60SIFF has been a staunch believer in the notion of making art, not war, and continues doing so.
Admittedly there’s still a lot of work to do, more than just talk, it’s time for actions. 60SIFF provides the platform that will assist and encourage harboring the Indo-Pak relations while building the talent of the youth. The 2016/17 cycle’s theme boasts the participants to capture the ‘colors of their country’, and there couldn’t be a better time than now to do so.
So let’s encourage this generation’s revolutional movement for harmony with a weapon that is non-nuclear: Filmmaking.