Valley of Saints

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“Kashmir, almost in defiance of the danger that surrounds it, is a beautiful place, and Musa Syeed has captured that with remarkable patience and love.” — J. Hurtado, Twitch

Director: Musa Syeed
Year: 2012
Country: India, USA
Running time: 82 mins
Censor Rating: G

Screenplay/Editor: Musa Syeed
Producer: Nicholas Bruckman
Photography: Yoni Brook
Music: Mubashir Mohi-ud-Din
In Kashmiri and English, with English subtitles
DCP

With: Gulzar Bhat (Gulzar), Neelofar Hamid (Asifa), Afzal Sofi (Afzal), Hajji Salam Bhat (uncle), Ghulam Hassan (smuggler), Nazeer Bhat (wise man), Gul Javeed (policeman)

Festivals: Sundance, Rotterdam 2012
Audience Award (World Cinema), Sundance Film Festival 2012

The scenic glory of a setting few of us will ever visit stands revealed in this gentle tale. Two young boatmen ferrying passengers across Lake Dal in Kashmir dream and scheme of heading to Mumbai together. A young Western-educated woman researching pollution in the lake complicates their plans. Digital technology enabled Kashmiri filmmaker Musa Syeed to shoot in one of the world’s most chronically destabilised territories without drawing hostile attention. The result is a film that sings with the lyrical beauty of its setting while expressing a sharp sense of regret for opportunities stagnating in the face of incessant conflict. Street skirmishes are regarded with the same accustomed eye as Syeed applies to beads of rain on a water lily. “The beauty of its images… as well as its tender, elusive story of love and friendship, set against unsettling political unrest, kept me glued to my seat.” — Meredith Brody, Indiewire