How do people outside India view Kashmir? One of their windows into the area is through documentary cinema, much of it now easily available online.
The combination of near ethereal beauty and three decades of violence has led many filmmakers to make the journey to the valley. French filmmaker Stanislas Giroux is one of them. After spending three weeks in Kashmir, he made his short film A Lost Paradise (above) to tell the story he saw.
Giroux sums up his gestalt of Kashmir in three words: beauty, hospitality, tragedy. And, using a montage of scenes, faces, and, finally, violence on the streets, he conveys the journey from beauty to tragedy that the area has made over the past three decades and more.
While Indians may flinch, the film presents a stark picture of stressed faces, daily rituals, and rising violence. The filmmaker explains his understanding of the conflict as an outsider: “If you listen to pro-Pakistan, then India is repressing the aspirations of the Kashmiri people to join Pakistan or perhaps become independent. If you listen to pro-Indians, India is defending its territory against jihadi militants sent over the Line of Control by a malevolent Pakistani security apparatus.”