“The duo informed that the interviews will be released online in the next two months.”
Srinagar, : Jul 1 2018 : After returning from their Kashmir trip, US-based filmmaker Jamie DeWolf and his partner and underwater model-photographer Iara Mandy recently revealed in a viral Facebook post that they secretly filmed “dozens of interviews with torture victims of the Indian state, protesters who’d been beaten, blinded, amputees missing fingers and legs, horror stories end upon end”.
The duo informed that the interviews will be released online in the next two months. These one-to-one interactions, they added, would be “one of the first comprehensive reports on human rights abuses in Kashmir”.
In his post, DeWolf described Kashmir as “the most militarized zone in the world with one soldier for every seven citizens and guns everywhere”. The 41-year-old writer, performer and film director from Oakland, California, visited Srinagar with Iara on a “feature assignment” in the first week of June.
“There were grenade attacks while we were there, a citywide strike, protesters ran over and killed. I won’t lie that it was a shaky experience,” DeWolf wrote in his Facebook post on 27 June. “Watching people get snatched off the street in front of our hotel while I had explosive footage hiding in my room was intense.”
San Francisco-based Iara also shared her experience on Facebook, describing Kashmir as “insanely gorgeous but riddled with a lot of tension”. “A couple weeks ago my partner and I ventured halfway around the world to Srinagar, and decided while we were there we had to try and take mermaid photos in the famed Dal Lake. Here’s the first, aboard the shikara wooden boat with the Himalayas in the background!” wrote Iara who also happens to be a certified free diving instructor, scuba diver and one-time lifeguard.
Interestingly, DeWolf is the great-grandson of late American author L. Lon Hubbard who founded a new religious movement called the Church of Scientology in 1954. The filmmaker-writer in his Facebook post said he found Kashmir “not exactly a top tourist location” where they “were flying in with a cover story of doing a mermaid shoot”.
“We scattered various film gear across our suitcases and checked in the mermaid tail. But what we were REALLY doing was secretly filming dozens of interviews with torture victims of the Indian state, protesters who’d been beaten, blinded, amputees missing fingers and legs, horror stories end upon end,” he wrote in his post. “And on the last day, we did the mermaid shoot! Our guide found a boat that would take us out to a secluded area and Iara Mandyn transformed and stunned us all with her fearlessness to leap in the lake,” he said. “It was a profound, transformative experience and shook me to my core but I’m so grateful we did it.”
Iara added in her Facebook post: “The story behind these photos is way crazier than the image could ever convey. They were sooooo close to not happening. The region is insanely gorgeous but there’s a lot of tension in Kashmir right now, so we were quite wary the entire time we were there. We almost scrapped the idea but then by luck found an awesome guide, and a boatman who was willing to take us out. Almost all of the women there cover up from ankle to neck even in the blazing heat of summer, and don’t swim. We didn’t want to cause a stir, so we rowed out to a remote part of the lake to be able to capture these. So many thanks to everyone who made these happen.”