Ajay

Indian Delegation Leader, 2008
Seeds of Peace Fellow, 2015

IMPACT: SOCIAL

Using film to explore the ideas of home and belonging.

How has Seeds of Peace had an impact on you?

As dramatic as it may sound, Camp was one of the best things to have happened to me. There I met people who shared a similar worldview, with the same passion for making a positive difference in this otherwise cynical, pessimistic planet. It was most energizing and reassuring. I was particularly impressed by the core ideas of Camp, the methodology, and execution.

Being witness to the exhilarating journey that the Seeds undertake at Camp made me trust the process implicitly. This found resonance in an idea that I have been working on here in India—a multi-disciplinary resource center for children across class, religion, abilities and language, centering upon the ideas of integration and non-discrimination.

I had also brought my “photographer-self” to Camp and experimented with capturing significant moments in the Delegation Leader (DL) dialogue sessions. This, I realized, served as a powerful tool for reflection at the end of the day which helped bring the group closer. I began to inquire into the potential for using photography as a means to achieve conflict resolution and transformation.

How are you impacting your community?

I am a cinematographer, documentary filmmaker, and director based in Mumbai. I teach cinematography at the Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai and conduct workshops at a number of other film schools. My current project, “Hold Everything Dear,” is a film that will inquire into the idea of home—longing and belonging. The documentary will be situated in Israel and Palestine, although its themes are universal. Through this film, I hope to delve into what “home” really means to us today and uncover previously untold stories under the premise that, more than losing our home and our land, the ultimate loss is that of losing our story.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict as described by fellow Delegation Leaders moved me deeply, which prompted me to visit the region three years ago. I first conducted a short filmmaking workshop in Ramallah for Palestinian educators who wanted to use film as a medium of instruction. Next, I visited some of my DL friends and lived with them in order to better understand and appreciate their unique situation.

In 2010, I attended the first Conflict Transformation Across Cultures South East Asia Program conducted by the School of International Training in Vermont. The program provided me with much-needed global perspective and theoretical constructs relating to conflict transformation and resolution. There, I presented and continued to develop my idea of using photography as a means of conflict transformation and resolution.

Meanwhile, I have continued to interact with the Indian Seeds through conducting photography and filmmaking workshops with them. Last year, Seeds of Peace India hosted Seeds from Afghanistan and Pakistan for a Voices of the People project. Here again, I helped the Seeds make short films, which can now be viewed online. I also participated in the “Expressive Arts; Educational Transformations” course and have conducted filmmaking workshops for educators and youth in India and the West Bank.

“Being witness to the exhilarating journey that the Seeds undertake at Camp made me trust the process implicitly. This found resonance in an idea that I have been working on here in India—a multi-disciplinary resource centre for children across class, religion, abilities and language, centring upon the idea of integration and non-discrimination.”