Kashmiri actor turned director Aamir Bashir returns with his first feature in 12 years in The Winter Within, a taut arthouse drama making its world premiere in competition at the Busan International Film Festival on Sunday.
In the film’s first English-language trailer, shared exclusively with The Hollywood Reporter on the eve of the premiere, actress Zoya Hussain, playing domestic helper Nargis, is revealed in a state of inward grief amidst Kashmir’s harsh but majestic winter landscapes (see the trailer below).
Bashir, who was born in Kashmir, began his film career as an actor — he had a recurring role in Netflix’s first India original series, Sacred Games — before making his directorial debut in 2010 with Autumn, which became a festival favorite, playing at Toronto, Rotterdam and Fribourg. It later won the best Urdu feature film prize at India’s 60th National Film Awards. The Winter Within’s star, Hussain, hails from India, where she is best known for her breakthrough performance in Anurag Kashyap’s acclaimed boxing drama The Brawler.
The Winter Within follow’s Nargis’ journey as she searchers for her husband Manzoor (Manzoor Ahmad Bhat), who was arrested after joining an armed rebellion. Unsure whether her partner is dead or alive, Nargis faces many hardships characteristic of the realities of Kashmir — a place where skirmishes big and small erupt regularly due to the long conflict between India and Pakistan, and the ever-present border dispute with China. She is fired when her employer learns that Manzoor was a militant. She returns to her hometown, where Yaseen (Shabir Ahmad Lone), who has feelings for her, offers a hand of help. When Manzoor abruptly returns home, the three characters must negotiate subtle emotional shifts amidst a political situation fraught with peril.
“Nargis’ face — full of many different emotions — and the landscape of Kashmir in everlasting winter are the story and the theme of this film,” the Busan International Film Festival said in its selection notes.
Bashir co-wrote The Winter Within with Shanker Raman, who also serves as the films director of photography. A India/France/Qatar co-production, the film is produced by Claire Lajoumard of France’s Acrobates Films. Bangkok-based sales agent Diversion is handling worldwide sales.
The Winter Within will premiere in Busan’s New Currents main competition section on Sunday, Oct. 9.
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