Half Widow (World Premiere)
Directed by DANISH RENZU
Half Widow is a breathtaking tale of a Kashmiri woman whose happy life takes a drastic turn as her husband is made to disappear and her brother loves and protects her in her struggle as a half widow.
Neela, a Kashmiri housewife, loses her sense of self when her husband is disappeared. Her maddening reality restarts every day with the hope that her husband will come back, that she will able to build her home again and live a normal life like the others around her. But she never gets what she desires. Her husband is long gone. Her younger brother, Zakir, is the only beacon of light in her life. He stands by her every day, keeping her hope alive. Zakir knows that if he turns his back on Neela, she might give up on her life. He will never let that happen, and so Zakir supports her through all the ups and downs they both face.
Years later, Neela encounters journalists who want to tell her story, which triggers emotions that she worked so hard to mute. She resolves that no one has the right to tell her story; no one should write about her husband except for Neela herself. But she is confronted with a stark reality: she is illiterate. For the last ten years, she has only waited for her husband, letting life pass her by.
Neela’s predicament and process is something I witnessed while growing up in Kashmir. Education helped women and children who were trying to bind the broken pieces of their former selves together. But the women, especially, had to struggle to access these resources. Neela realizes the value of education, that she will not be able to write her story without it. She accepts this challenge and the fact that her husband is never going to come back. Neela also understands she can set an example for others in her same tragic situation, and so she decides to make a difference. She will learn to read and write so she can tell her story.
DANISH RENZU is a Kashmir born film director, whose work direction and writing has received critical acclaim, whilst his work in drama specifically has earned him official selection in various film festivals and recognition in press and media. A graduate of University of California Los Angeles, Danish was born in Kashmir, India. He came to America all by himself at a very young age to pursue his dreams. He also holds a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering degree.
Danish Renzu grew up in the conflict driven valley of Kashmir where he lived through frequent bombings, shutdowns and abuse of human rights, he realized early in life that true solution lies in investing our energies toward personal development, education and community growth.
His first independent short film IN SEARCH OF AMERICA INSHALLAH, a story about a Pakistani woman in search of her disappeared husband, shot in Los Angeles, was received well throughout the world in various film festivals including recognition at Cannes, CAAM, Asians on Film Festival, Noor Iranian Film Festival, and various other film festivals even won various best actress awards to the lead actress of the film. The film was also well received in the press including recognition in Chime for Change, Indiewire, Women’s Voices Now etc. Inspired by the true story, the film showcased the plight of a suppressed Muslim woman finally making decision for her life by choosing what’s best for herself rather than following the cultural and societal force upon obligations laid on her. The film is also distributed by SHORTS HD TV after its successful festival run for over 2 years featured in over 30 film festivals. His second shot film FIRST LOVE which was about a South Asian woman finding her muse premiered at prestigious New York Indian Film Festival in 2015 and then was picked under Official Short Film