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A Child’s Eye View of Conflict

Nooreh is an award-winning film set in a Kashmiri village on the India-Pakistan border. Told from the perspective of an eight-year-old Muslim girl, it is a subtle and powerful story about the effect of conflict on children.

Very few films look at war or conflict in a way that is both sensitive and comprehensible for children. Nooreh is one of those rare and special filmsTold from the perspective of an eight-year-old Kashmiri girl, it is a subtle and powerful story about how children emotionally navigate conflict situations. 

The film is set in a village on the India-Pakistan border. The beauty and peace of the natural surroundings is disrupted daily by the  sound of crossfire. At night, this sound always wakes Nooreh up. As her eyes openon one of these nights, she notices that the gunfire  suddenly stops. Thinking this could be a solution, she devises a plan to study through the night convinced that her wakefulness will maintain the ceasefire.

Nooreh’s parents seem oblivious to the effect of the conflict on their daughter as do her school teachers, other than noticing she seems more tired than usual. For the children, however, Nooreh’s action is central, and the most exciting news they have heard for a long time.

Gently paced and beautifully shot, the film gives an intimate glimpse of daily life in a region where counting bullet holes dotting the village walls is a game. The interactions with adults that Nooreh and her friends have on their long daily walk to school, and the conversations between them and other schoolmates are very true to life. They make funny observations about how the situation disrupts their studies, family weddings and birthday celebrations and question their parents’ decision to live in this place. With a rich and effective soundscape, the film is a convincing insight into a child’s mind and the subliminal effects of political conflict on the children who live with its daily reality.

 

The film was released in 2018 and over the past few years has won six film festival awards and  nominations from every continent. Nooreh is both written and directed by independent filmmaker Ashish Pandey a graduate of the Kolkata, Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute. Based in Mumbai, Ashish makes films about real life stories that have touched him and that he believes in. His inspiration for Nooreh was a photo of a child in Kashmir eating lunch in the school bunker. It made him wonder what it was like for a child to live and grow in the shadow of conflict. After a lot of scouting for locations in Kashmir he decided to film in Izmarg and Chuntiwari in the Gurez Valley. Ashish wanted to show that the environment may be stunningly beautiful, but it coexists with a constant fear of danger and uncertainty created by the ongoing conflict.  

A key factor in making this film seem so true to life is that all the roles were played by local children and adults with no acting experience. Saima Latief’s lead performance as Nooreh is exceptional. Her remarkably expressive face in particular enables a clear glimpse into the internal life of children in conflict zones. 

There is much food for thought packed into the film’s 22 minute runtime making it a really good watch for the whole family.  

 

chidren in conflict muslim film
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