82 minutes – Kashmir/USA
Widely considered to be the crown jewel of Kashmir, Dal Lake is a sprawling aquatic community where erupting political violence often distracts from the natural beauty. Gulzar, a young, working-class boatman, plans to skip town with his best friend Afzal in search of a better life, but a weeklong military curfew derails their departure. Forced to wait it out, Gulzar and Afzal discover they’re not alone: a young woman named Asifa is also trapped on the lake, but by choice. She’s researching the lake’s ecosystem and brings on Gulzar to be her guide. As they navigate the floating landscape, an unlikely relationship blossoms between the two. With the end of the conflict looming, Gulzar has to choose between a new life or a new love.
Shot during the military curfew of 2010, Valley of Saints weaves together documentary and fiction, ancient myths and contemporary issues, and the beauty and danger of Kashmir to tell a story of finding one’s path home in a changing world.