Suppose you are a graphic designer who is also a passionate writer. When you couple your literary prowess with your artistic skill and create, for example, a graphic novel, it is bound to give you unbridled joy and satisfaction. The story of the talented filmmaker Rizza Alee from Kashmir is something similar. Along with his co-producer, Shidan Majidi, he combined his love for climbing mountains and his filmmaking craft to create the documentary, It is This (همین است).
The short 11-minute gripping documentary was brought to life with support from GoPro. The film is an extraordinary tale of courage and tenacity, centred on the trailblazing journey of Firdous A. Chaila, a 54-year-old visionary from Kashmir who single-handedly ushered in the exhilarating world of snowboarding to this snow-kissed region. Although the sport is conventionally linked to young and white-skinned enthusiasts, in Gulmarg, the northern Indian ski hub, it has been witnessing a slow but steady rise in popularity.
For the youngsters of Kashmir, latching onto the snowboarding gear and honing their skills is no walk in the park, thanks to the financial burdens that weigh them down. The equipment and the training required for snowboarding are expensive. However, amidst the daunting backdrop of their underprivileged lives, the allure of conquering the powdery slopes, propelled by an intoxicating blend of liberation and weightlessness, offers an invaluable respite, that they have embraced wholeheartedly.
Rizza Alee, Director
Last week, the film was showcased at the prestigious Astoria Film Festival, which was held in the legendary Kaufman Studios, in the heart of New York City. Over the years, the Kaufman Astoria Studio has brought forth countless productions to theatres and living rooms across the world. It is a moment of triumph that such a reputed production house and festival has endorsed a film from such a distant part of the world. It cements Astoria’s reputation for providing a well-deserved platform, not just for local, but also international films.
Kashmir, also hailed as Heaven on Earth has been historically pulverized by militancy and political instability, which has been portrayed through several different lenses on-screen. However, It is This, with its stunning visuals and compelling narrative, highlights the limitless natural beauty of Kashmir and the sense of inexorable freedom that a sport like snowboarding brings to its youth — a portrayal that promises to be a breath of fresh air, both to and from the valley.