How “One World Film Festival” Raises Awareness About Global Issues

Canadian youth and adults are challenged by a fast-paced system and a politically charged environment where many are aware about the need to promote awareness of relevant international and local issues. A film festival like One World Film Festival (OWFF) thus plays a pivotal role in shaping opinion by empowering citizens. People who are dwelling on Planet Earth in today’s world are pressured to absorb information fast, which is how the new generation is being shaped to work and think more quickly by retrieving data from various stimuli and resources.

One of the very first films that I watched—in grade 11, I think—to learn about issues surrounding mental and physical health was Tennessee William’s “The Glass Menagerie”. This fiction movie shares the story of Laura Wingfield, her brother Tom Wingfield, and their mother Amanda Wingfield. What struck me as stunning about this movie was the fact that Laura limped and was also mentally fragile; and, the use of a glass menagerie to symbolize Laura’s refuge in her imaginary world as well as her sensitive memory. I remember feeling very moved after watching this picture; and, I promised myself to keep learning through such expressive broadcasts. As I grew older, I became more familiar with the world around me; and, finally found a festival that helped me fulfill the promise I had made many years ago.

One World Film Festival (OWFF) is Ottawa’s longest-running documentary film festival that seeks to use media and performing arts to educate people about several global issues including women empowerment, identity, migration, indigenous rights, social justice, human rights, and environmental issues—specifically, it connects marginalized communities and Third World population with Canadians. Its a very historic event! Its interesting to see how One World Film Festival’s poster has changed over time. See Past Festivals – 1989 to 2016.

Nowadays, people have access to many learning platforms including social media, open learning services, and free libraries. So why would someone want to spend their money to watch films? My experiences with the world of movies have taught me that motion pictures teach faster because they offer multi-sensory and collective experiences where one may feel one’s emotions as well as those of the audience and movie characters; learning can be completed in an incognito and relaxed environment; and, it becomes possible to focus on multiple issues and literary techniques and not just one or two. Now imagine going to the One World Film Festival (OWFF) and being bombarded by many educational pictures!

Come join this memorable adventure! One World Film Festival (OWFF) is coming to Ottawa again this year. Don’t forget to support their 30th Anniversary by donating to their crowdfunding campaign. Hurry Up! Campaign ends on June 2nd—they have only 7 days left to raise funds.

Copyright © by Arzoo Zaheer. All Rights Reserved. 

Indian Film “Hamid” Shares Ordeals of Kashmiris

Today, I watched the Indian movie “Hamid”, which shows how Kashmiris are suffering due to the conflicts involving the Indian Army. This movie was directed by Aijaz Khan and written by Ravinder Randhawa.

In this movie, the father of a seven year old Kashmiri boy Hamid vanishes. He had taught Hamid a little bit about God; and, he had taught him that when we put the words “Bismillah hir rahman nir raheem” (In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful) together, we get the numbers 786.

After his dad’s sudden disappearance, Hamid starts looking for him by attempting to connect with Allah (God). Thus, he asks the shopkeeper who had put money in his cell to dial number 786; but, the shopkeeper tells him that he must dial a 10-digit number. So Hamid finds a poster that has a 10-digit number printed on it. Then, he scribbles the number 9-786-786-786 on the paper. When he dials this number, he is connected to an Indian Army official named Abhay. Hamid never finds out that Abhay is actually participating in stopping the protests that are taking place in Kashmir. This man makes friends with Hamid and let’s Hamid think that he is talking to Allah (God). It is obvious to me that he does not want to tell him the truth because he has figured out that this call is an act of desperation. This is how Hamid learns to let out his true feelings about his ordeals; and, Abhay decides to listen and assist him. Over time, we see that Abhay actually tries to investigate where Hamid’s dad had went; pressures someone to issue wages to Hamid’s mother; consoles Hamid by singing the only song he really knows, which is the song that’s usually sung by Indian army units; and, also guides Hamid to run away from a site where the Indian army was arriving to manage a protest. Abhay takes the role of his father because he yearns to see his daughter one day as his existence is consumed by the need to play this role.

Unfortunately, Hamid feels too upset when he finally founds out that he has been talking to an Indian Army official. So he breaks his dad’s cellphone, which is the only mobile device he can use to reach out to outsiders—I felt a bit worried when I saw him do this because I realized that he was going to be all alone again since his mother is not reacting to his needs owing to this recent tragedy. Furthermore, I felt relieved when I saw the last scene. Abhay sends a gift—red paint—to Hamid’s uncle’s shop where Hamid is learning how to make boats. You see Abhay had found out that Hamid’s dad used to paint the boats he had made with red paint; thus, even if Hamid is angry at Abhay for not telling him that he is not Allah (God), kind Abhay still chooses to play the father figure for him.

A startling revelation offered by this movie is as follows: Hamid’s father had always taught him never to be involved in any kind of politics—just like me, he liked expressing his feelings through poetry. Hamid throws the very first stone at an Indian Army vehicle after he finds out that the “entity” he was communicating with is not Allah (God) but an Indian soldier. I felt a bit shaken when I saw him do this because I realized how much pain he must have endured before he decided to do what his father told him not to do. He was lucky to escape alive after this; but, in real life, protestors can get shot for doing this. To get an idea about what I am trying to tell you here, check out CJ Werleman’s Facebook post, “In the 1990s, whenever Kashmiri protestors threw stones, Indian security forces would pretty much shoot anything that moved, blaming “cross fire” incidences“.

In conclusion, I like how the Indian cinema is taking a stand to cover the issues faced by Kashmiris. The description of the following video trailer shares the facts that this movie has won two awards at the 5th edition of the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF).

Copyright © by Arzoo Zaheer. All Rights Reserved except for the video.