The fact of Leh being fixed as the venue for ‘Ladakh International Film Festival’ (LIFF) has proved as a saving boat for the local film industry that is on the verge of sinking at its infant stage. The nomination and screening of Ladakhi films in LIFF has gained the credit of bringing a ray of new hope among the Ladakhi film fraternity and got the smile back on the gloomy faces of producers, directors and actors who were in despair state on the slow death of their creations.
Ladakh Film Industry has almost completed a decade since its existence and it has in its archive a total of nearly 40 films including all categories. These films play a significant role in preservation and promotion of Ladakhi art, culture, tradition, costume and mainly language, as these are based on the social system prevailing in the region and projects the local culture through the use of local spoken language. What any other medium has failed to do, these films have to a great extent been bold enough to highlight the issues of caste system, social inequalities based on class differences and other subjects like patriotism, communal harmony, social values, leaving grounds open for criticism which normally Ladakhis avoid.
Secondly, what is to be recognized is the audacious attempt made by the local filmmakers who jumped into this field without any professional background and profit making mind, just with a noble intention of contributing something favourable to the society. Though, their lack of experience got projected on the screen, their courage of accepting their limitations and surmounting the challenges cannot be ignored and is worth appreciating. But the matter of concern is that besides all these efforts made with a positive intention to bring some positive changes in the society, the local film fraternity failed time and again to prove its credibility, not among its audiences but in the eyes of council and cultural academy. This is one major reason that the local film industry never got recognition and always remained neglected since its inception and is counting its last days.
This attitude of negligence on the part of the local authority despite the films being inaugurated by successive CECs, ECs and even the ministers can be in a way interpreted as their underestimation on their part in the creative skills of local directors, producers, actors and technicians. They even seem to overlook the fact that this industry has proved a source of livelihood to about 1000 unemployed youth and as a matter of acceptance it has introduced an era of cinema in this remote hamlet. The only appreciation came its way from the LBA Youth Wing who understands the significance of these films in disseminating information with a wider reach and impact as they are extremely dedicated to preserve and promote Ladakhi culture and language. In 2009 in recognition of the outstanding contribution towards social equity through films LBA Youth Wing presented Bharat Ratna Dr. Ambedkar Award to Ladakh Vision Group, one of the pioneering film makers’ groups in Ladakh.
Life, has created an opportunity to recognize their endeavour and creativity. The collaborative effort of LAHDC and LIFF is commendable and in order to sustain such endeavors in future as well Hill Council should give award or citation for best director, producer, actor, cinematographer etc. on the ground of the nominated local films to be premiered during the festival. Such recognition would act as an incentive to motivate and encourage the present filmmakers to produce better quality films, especially in terms of technical aspect that would further assist the fraternity in holding a firm ground and create larger interest for them.