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The 17th edition of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles runs April 11th to 14th in Los Angeles with an impressive lineup of films and shorts at Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center in Los Angeles. This is the festival’s third year in the state-of-the-art, world-class cinema in the heart of the city’s vibrant downtown district. Opening and Closing Gala presentations will take place at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills with dinner receptions to follow hosted by Indian restaurant Spice Affair. Click here for the entire schedule.

Writer Arijit Basu has written a review of a short film, a film which captures a human angle to the strife in the Kashmir Valley. Join the lines outside the theater!

NOOREH: A film by Ashish Pandey (18 minutes)

A cherubic and bubbly young girl in a Kashmir border village tries hard to sleep to the sounds of nocturnal crossfire. She is lively, mischievous and is up to the usual antics a girl of her age does at school with her two equally charming friends, which includes skipping carefree through fields strewn with land mines as if it were the most normal thing for children to do.

Director Ashish Pandey captures the idyllic beauty of the valley with sweeping panoramic shots. However, this “Heaven on Earth” is punctuated with the incessant sounds of firing late into the night. Nooreh tries hard to sleep and is determined to live a normal life in such a scenario.

While studying for her exams, she stumbles upon the idea that the firing ceases if she stays up as late as possible. Soon, the rumor spreads like wildfire among the village folk that Nooreh’s late night vigil to remain sleepless results in the cessation of gunfire. One by one, the sleepy town wakes up. With a poignant night shot of lightbulbs coming on at night like glowing fireflies, the film ends with hope.

The short contrasts day and night, where day represents a sense of promise of what’s to come and night brings about unnerving foreboding. Paced quickly, you get a feature length feel in the short. Using locals as actors speaking the native dialect of Shima, one gets a first hand account of what the tension in the valley must be like for a child. Nooreh’s ‘life is beautiful’-esque flight of fantasy is a story that we can all relate to.

And, it is also true that despite the ground realities of valley strife, hope is what everyone there aspires to attain.

Arijit is a restless traveler, academic, film and history enthusiast. He is from Mumbai originally, by way of Texas. Currently he is exploring all that California has to offer.

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