Filmed over three tumultuous years in India, Pakistan, Japan and the United States, after the 1998 nuclear tests on the Indian sub-continent, WAR AND PEACE is the long awaited new film by India's leading documentary filmmaker, Anand Patwardhan. It documents the current, epic journey of peace activism in the face of global militarism and war.
Divided into six chapters, the film is framed by the murder of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. This act of violence was so profound, its portent and poignancy remain undiminished 50 years later. As a child filmmaker Patwardhan was immersed in the non-violent Gandhian movement. Because of this he, in WAR AND PEACE, examines India's trajectory towards naked militarism with sorrow, although along the way the film captures joyful stories of courage and resistance.
Amongst these chapters is a visit to the "enemy country" of Pakistan, where, contrary to expectations, Indian delegates are showered by affection, not only by their Pakistani counterparts in the peace movement, but by ordinary citizens who declare without caution that "hate is the creation of politicians."
WAR AND PEACE examines not merely the militarization of India, but analyzes the human cost that is extracted from its citizens in the name of 'National Security.' From the plight of residents living near the nuclear test site, and the horrendous effects of uranium mining on local indigenous populations, it becomes clear that, contrary to a myth first created in the U.S., there is no such thing as the "peaceful Atom." Scientific research has been hijacked by the war machine, only a handful of practitioners remind us of its potential to fulfill the genuine needs of the people.
Going beyond the story of South Asia, WAR AND PEACE follows the extraordinary visit of Japanese Atom Bomb survivors after the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests. Their visit becomes the impetus for a re-examination of events that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Were these bombs necessary? American historians who recently curated an exhibit about this issue for the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC were amazed to find their voices suppressed.
WAR AND PEACE slips seamlessly from its analysis of homemade jingoism to focus on how an aggressive United States has become a Foreign Relations role model. The unofficial U.S. doctrine of 'Might Makes Right' is only too well absorbed and emulated by aspiring Third World elites.
As we enter the 21st century, enemies are being re-invented, economies are inextricably tied to the production and sale of weapons, and in the moral wastelands of the world, war has become perennial. Memories of Gandhi seem like a mirage that never was, created by our thirst for peace and our very distance from it.
"A tour de force, beautifully shot and often darkly funny and much more riveting than the dry subject matter might suggest."—Duncan Campbell, The Guardian
2003 Association for Asian Studies Conference Film Festival
International Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI), 2002 Sydney International Film Festival
Grand Prize, 2002 Earth Vision Film Festival (Tokyo)
Best Film and the International Jury Prize, 2002 Mumbai International Film Festival
2002 Berlin International Film Festival
"[WAR AND PEACE] is so important one could justify its requirement as part of the education of all high school students and undergraduates in America. The power of the film derives from its brilliant cinemtagraphy and narration, its juxaposition of points of view and its total honesty."—Professor Emeritus Blair Kling, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for 'AEMS News and Reviews'
"[A] solemn, stirring perspective on the competitive chauvinism between India and Pakistan, which manifests itself in the nuclear arms race between them. With the controversy surrounding possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there might not be a better time than the present for this documentary. Because Mr. Patwardhan is so measured in making his impressive, unrelenting case, WAR AND PEACE is all the more disturbing. There's no need for hysteria when he can find villagers as articulate as the man who compared his government to a vicious parent, while cancer rates rise in his homeland. WAR AND PEACE has a riveting intelligence all its own and earns its epic title."—Elvis Mitchell, New York Times
"Gives doomsday a human face. Immersed in popular culture, WAR AND PEACE makes it clear that India's nuclear mania appeals not only to religious chauvinism, primitive nationalism, and a desire for modernity but, even more dangerously, to a festering sense of inferiority."—J. Hoberman, The Village Voice