Film highlights resistance in Kashmir

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Iffat Fatima presents her film on conflict in Kashmir, India. (Photo by Jess Furtado ’19)

Emma Piascik

Calling for resistance to the oppression that the people of Kashmir, India, currently face in their daily lives, Iffat Fatima shared her film “Blood Leaves its Trail” with the Lafayette community Monday night. The film uncovers the intense violence that Kashmiris face at the hands of the Indian government and explores how Kashmiris cope with and resist this violence.

“[Kashmir] is like an open wound that continues to bleed,” Fatima said before the film began.

Fatima noted that there have been thousands of deaths and enforced disappearances in the region due to the  conflict between Pakistan and India. According to Fatima, hope for Kashmiris lies in resistance.

A main theme explored in “Blood Leaves its Trail” is resistance to oppressive government and resistance to taking inhabitants or loved ones, as well as the killing of innocent individuals. Throughout the film, resistance comes in three forms: protests, Kashmiris owning their own narratives and living their own lives.

“To exist, and to live, and to try to function in such an oppressive environment is really an act of resistance itself,” history professor Hafsa Kanjwal said.

According to Fatima, after spending nine years working on the project and filming, she edited down 250 hours of footage to create a 95-minute film, deeming it perfect in 2010.

Kanjwal was put into contact with Fatima as she tours colleges in the United States showing her film. Having done significant research on Kashmir as well as having travelled and lived there, Kanjwal was excited to receive a Tapestries grant that enabled the screening, Hafsa said. “Blood Leaves its Trail” was presented by both the History and Film and Media Studies departments in conjunction with Tapestries: Voices within Contemporary Muslim Cultures, a project that explores a variety of Muslim artistic expressions, according to the Tapestries webpage.

Tapestries fellow Abdul Manan ’18 worked with Kanjwal to curate the film screening.

“There are ways in which the media in the US especially is very restricting in terms of the kinds of information it provides citizenry in general,” Kanjwal explained. “Whatever little there is about events happening around the world it’s usually done from a very US-centric perspective.”

In playing Fatima’s film at Lafayette College, Kanjwal and Manan aim to show students the adversity that Kashmiris face.  

“Once you have more people that know about the issue and can get that story out more, there’s a way for it to hopefully have an impact,” Kanjwal said.  

According to Manan, the issue is one that most college students are unaware of.

“We overestimated how much people knew about the Kashmiri conflict,” Manan said.