AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated by Kierston Drier:
GULMARG – PARADISE ON EARTH, 14min, Australia
Directed by Cassie De Colling
A portrait of a small once wartorn mountain village that has been discovered as a new frontier for western ski tourism. The film explores the past and the future that Gulmarg is undergoing.
Gulmarg, Paradise on Earth has been a momentous project from the beginnings. I traveled wot Kashmir originally to film a project on a NGO that was helping provide snowboards to Kashmiri youths. When I arrived in Kashmir the NGO had been abandoned and I no longer had a film. From there i decided I wasn’t travelling half way around the world to not make the most of the opportunity of being in Gulmarg. I met and interviewed many people. Chased different stories, dragged my camera up and down the mountains, stood out in the night doing time-lapses and harassed people for their time to be interviewed. Initially I found a story that I persisted which was the story of a young boy who dreamt of becoming a professional snowboarder. This then became the premise for my film ‘Beneath the Boarder’. With this looking like my film I returned to Kashmir the following year to resume filming. In the course of a year many things changed in my life and in Kashmir and I was unable to complete this story. So there I was in Kashmir a year later with a string of interviews and many possibilities for many different directions.
Kashmir and Gulmarg are complex places with layer of issues; human rights violations, oppression, avalanches and the struggle of being overwhelmed by western tourism. The main issue that stood out to me was the struggle between the cultures as the west has embarked on Gulmarg as the a new frontier for ski tourism. My agenda for making this film became about building awareness to the area and the cultural sensitivities of people who travel to these areas in the sake of a ski holiday with no regard to who lives there.