Pushpendra Singh’s hypnotic new film, a feminist story set in Kashmir, premiered recently at the Berlin Film Festival
You wouldn’t think, seeing Pushpendra Singh’s exquisitely poetic films, that he is a big fan of German director Werner Herzog, some of whose films have impossibly dramatic arcs. In fact, he is “very influenced" by Herzog’s Rogue Film School, he says. The school is “for those who are willing to learn about lock-picking or forging shooting permits in countries not favouring their projects. In short: for those who have a sense of poetry". Singh is Herzog’s devotee. “We had no shooting permits in some areas of Jammu and Kashmir. But I confidently told the inspector general of Jammu that I knew the higher-ups. After that I was not stopped anywhere," he says. His latest film, Laila Aur Satt Geet (The Shepherdess And The Seven Songs), dazzled audiences at the 70th Berlin Film Festival. It played in the new, highly prized Encounters section of the festival, now headed by artistic director Carlo Chatrian, that ran from 20 February-1 March. It got sustained applause at each of its multiple, sold-out screenings.
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