Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government has set the ball in motion to reopen the closed cinema halls in the valley.
The administration is organizing an international film festival next month to promote local artists. The festival will act as a bridge between the artists’ renowned directors, actors, singers, and lyricists of the country
“We will revive the cinema halls that were closed for a long time. We are trying to reopen 20 cinema halls in different parts of the Union Territory and show 50 films in 5 days,” Nitishwar Kumar, Principal Secretary to Lieutenant Governor, told ANI.
He said they will show around 40-50 films in the cinema halls. “This will spread in the entire Union Territory. The film festival will promote local artists. They will get the opportunity of meeting renowned directors, actors, singers & lyricists,” he said.
The five-day film festival will be held from June 15-20. “Around 136 countries have registered so far under the three categories of ‘feature film’, ‘non-feature film’ and ‘music videos’. We have more than 40 award categories,” he said.
Kashmir is perhaps the only place in the country where film festivals are being held regularly despite not having a single cinema hall.There were eight single-screen theatres in Srinagar. Of which four were in the sensitive old city. In 1999, the then Farooq Abdullah-led government tried to reopen the Regal cinema in Srinagar. But on the inaugural show, militants attacked the cinema with grenades killing one person and injuring 12 others. The cinema never reopened for the public again.
Later two cinema halls –Neelam and Broadway—tried to reopen amid tight security but they were unable to attract the cine-goers owing to security reasons. As a result, Broadway closed some months later. Neelam Cinema crutched along but finally had to close down in 2010. Cine goers had a narrow escape when militants attacked Neelam on September 7, 2005. Two militants and a policeman were killed in the attack.
Last year, Jammu and Kashmir government notified the Film Policy 2020. The sub-text of the policy is to reopen cinema halls and set up multiplexes.
“For promoting film viewing in the cinema halls, it is important to modernize and upgrade the facilities and technologies available in the existing cinema halls. The government of J&K shall encourage the owners of the Cinema Halls to create modern amenities by way of various incentives. All the incentives to such Units shall be governed under the provisions of J&K Industrial Policy 2021,” the policy said.