Monday, August 29, 2005

A film-makers network being planned in India

Pankaj Gupta of Delhi (his email address says "Lodhi Road") is forwarding a note announcing plans for an Indian grassroots film-makers broadcasters' network. Rahul Kumar of One World South Asia reports that Indian grassroots filmmakers and non governmental organisations (NGOs) plan
to form a grassroots broadcasters network "to spread awareness on developmental and social issues confronting rural India using videos and films. At a seminar -- using video for development -- organized on Wednesday ((August 24, 2005) by OneWorld South Asia (OWSA), Video SEWA (Self Employed Women's Association) and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), NGOs decided to harness the power of films, shot by rural folk, women and people at the grassroots level, for creating awareness people's issues. The seminar celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Gujarat-based Video SEWA, an organisation that works for and mobilizes marginalised women, which has used films for advocating the rights of small shopkeepers, hawkers and vendors. Participants said since video is an audio-visual medium, it influences people strongly therefore it can be effectively used for awareness, sensitization and empowerment in rural communities.
This report also refers to the New Delhi-based The Centre for Civil Society. One page of its 2004 film festival is here
New Delhi-based CCS holds documentary film festivals and invites video/films on livelihoods, red tapism and governmental policies that exclude the urban poor. Its documentary film festival 'Jeevika' creates a platform for amateurs and grassroots film producers to showcase their creativity. Manali Shah from CCS said: "The protagonists in our films are rickshaw pullers, hawkers, street food-stall owners and similar other workers of the informal sector. We focus on how government policies and the licence raj exploits these workers and almost prevents them from earning a livelihood."

Telesur... from down south in Venezuela

This is an article about TeleSur, described as
To balance the anti-Chavez local press and pro-American CNN, Venezuela is launching a South American Al Jazeera. With journalistic heavyweights and a non-corporate vibe, the channel arrives on the scene as a number of Latin American nations are leaning politically left.
Apparently the article is originally from here. Florencia Mujica of Telesur, who looks after programming, writes:
I don’t speak English very well, but I want to tell you that we are very interested about Indian documentaries.
You can contact her at fmujica at telesurtv.net Wikipedia has this entry on TeleSur. And the home page of teleSUR (what's the actual spelling?) in Spanish is here. One critical perspective from Gustavo Coronel.

IDPA awards... from Mumbai (Bombay)

Indian Documentary Producers' Association is talking about its IDPA Awards for Excellence 2005. Films produced between January 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005 are eligible, and they must come by September 8, 2005. Details and entry form are available at IDPA's site. For those curious, the IDPA is contactable at 223, Famous Cine Building, 20,Dr.E.Moses Road Mahalaxmi, Mumbai 400011 Tel: 2492 0757 and 2496 1020. A self-description: IDPA is a non-profit organisation that came into being in 1956. It is registered as a public trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950. Today IDPA is India’s single largest association of producers of documentaries, animation films, advertisement films and TV programmes. It says:
IDPA's main concern is to promote the independent documentary film movement in the country. In this context we disseminate information that is useful to independent film makers. Apart from promoting the theatrical exhibition of documentaries, IDPA has also had some success in helping film makers with marketing and opening broadcast possibilities in India.

Another fest... at Madurai

This announcement from Amudhan R.P lets us know about plans for the 7th Madurai Documentary Festival -- a non-competitive one -- to be held in December 2005 in that South Indian city. the second-largest in Tamil Nadu. Films invited in DVD format. Contact amudhanrp at rediffmail.com Amudhan Ramalingampushpam is the person behind it. He's based in Marupakkam. And he writes:
We are a media activist group involved in making documentaries, organising regular screenings, video festivals, video workshops in and around Madurai since 1994.
To know more about him and his work, check these Google links

Details of 'Deconstructing Disasters'

Max Martin's post announces details of the 'Deconstructing Disasters' film festival, to be held in October 2005 in India, featuring ten films. It is being organised by Indiadisasters.org and have screenings in collaboration with select partners in and around Chennai, Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram. These are south Indian cities around the area which mainly felt the impact of the December 26, 2004 tsunami. One interesting initiative during the fest is:
Documentation -- digital filming of the film festival process, with special focus on the response to the films and discussions in villages and rehabilitation camps.
More details from docufest2005 at gmail.com

CEE's video resource centres

Thanks to a posting from Nandini from the Video Resource Centre of the Centre for Environmental Education, a network in India, I came across this link. Nandini writes:
We, at CEE, also organise film festivals, and public screenings. We also lend films to media organisations for non-commercial public screenings. We organize these activities as part of our VRC activities. As you may know, CEE is one of the Video Resource Centres (VRC) of the International Television Trust for the Environment (TVE). As a VRC, CEE has been involved in dissemination of video programmes on environment and development and social justice and also use the print and the internet to disseminate information. CEE produces new programmes, version programmes into local languages and also has a large collection of video programmes on environment and development issues.
A search for CEE's VRC's threw up this. And, this page has links for audio-visuals for environment education, both from the video resource centre and films on Gujarat's protected areas. (CEE is headquartered in the western Indian state of Gujarat; I once half-seriously toyed with the idea of taking up a job there, at the start of my writing career.) CEE also says it has produced language versions of 57 Hands On stories in four Indian languages. Hands On is a television programme that showcases practical solutions to a broad range of development concerns, produced by the Television for Environment. Over the past five years, some 150 programmes have been produced (by TVE).

Docuwallahs2 crosses double century

Good news! Docuwallahs2has just crossed 200 members. Actually, it's 202 right now. This list, started on an idea from Stalin Kurup in Gujarat, is the source of much of the information going into this blog. Thank you Docuwallahs!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What more! A billion eyes...

Another, earlier blog-entry brought me here to the One Billion Eyes, Indian documentary film festival. And it does seem like a very interesting place indeed. The 2005 page has links to the festival itself, films, schedules, themes, the entry form and contact details. This year's festival, as the schedule indicates, was in mid-August. Googling helped me find a link to Prakriti Foundation and details of artistic director Ranvir Shah's interests and concerns. For 2005, the theme was animals, art and activism. Say the organisers:
It showed us that there is a growing audience for documentary films and they are very interested in different points and perspectives -- women issues, alternate sexuality, art, travel or identities. Over the years, we'd like to feature films on the widest possible range of subjects. So, we have decided to take them on alphabetically, beginning with the letter 'A' this year.

Disaster, tragedy and film

In case you were curious to know why there's this spate of disaster films being spoken of (below), the mailing list Docuwallahs2 recently carried this announcement by Max Martin, editor of Indiadisasters.org about plans to hold a film festival on the theme of disasters, in October. He writes:
The idea is to focus on the theme of disaster rehabilitation, throwing in aspects of preparedness, rights and standards. We have received some entries specifically on tsunami rehabilitation. And promises about some more films that are nearing completion. We have yet to make a final list. We are plannning it as a multi-city initiative, possibly with some screenings in temporary rehabilitation shelters and fishing hamlets. Definitely there will be screenings in Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram. Possibly in Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari as well.

Cyclone in Gujarat...

' Cyclone in Gujarat - Lessons Learnt,' is a film by Sehjo Singh , a freelance journalist. The film depicted the aftermath of the Kandla (Gujarat) cyclone and the livelihood problems faced by the people in its wake. This is one of the few online references to Sehjo's work.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Jahangirabad? Where's that?

Gauhar Raza has announced that he is heading the 'Jahangirabad Media Institute' and is currently collecting documentaries for their library. Says he, "I would welcome the help in terms of locating the documentaries and also purchasing them for the institute." For those curious about this institution, see a report on the Jahangirabad Media Institute. It's a story "straight out of Bollywood" as this report puts it -- a group of non-resident Indians from America and India return to give back "a fraction" of what their country had given them. What emerges
out of this "dream" was a magical transformation of a decrepit, forgotten 150-year-old Jahangirabad Fort in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh into a world-class institute offering postgraduate courses in media and mass communication, bio-informatics, bio-technology, para-medicine, medicine and engineering.
For more information about Gauhar Raza, this googled find with over 500 posts should suffice. Right on top is his Evil Stalks the Land. And for understandable reasons, perhaps! It is a powerful historical record of what happens when the ideology of hate takes over.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Old Sea and The Man... film on the tsunami

R.R.Srinivasan has informed us about his new film on the tsunami. It's called Old Sea and The Man ("a documentary film on tsunami and other coastal issues", duration 70 mts, format-DV Cam). He explains it thus:
The tsunami that occurred on 26 December 2004 was clearly one of the deadliest natural disasters the world has seen in recent times. Resulting in 8081 deaths in Tamilnadu, hundreds of thousands more displaced, and massive infrastructure destruction, there is no doubt that concerted and long-term attention needs to be paid to the rebuilding of the affected communities. This documentary made in post-Tsunami situation of Tamil Nadu (south India) clearly brings out the range of human rights violations of the coastal communities in the name of “development”. The obvious human rights violations of these communities that result from the so called relief and rehabilitation efforts are many. Through the views of the coastal communities across the coast line of Tamil Nadu, this documentary exposes the design of the State to forcibly relocate the fishing community from their pre-tsunami settlements that amounts to completely uprooting them from their livelihood resources. This documentary also clearly brings out the man-made silent Tsunami’s that has been eroding the lives of coastal communities and coastal resources for decades now. The resistance of the coastal communities to the so called development based on market oriented models generated by globalisation continues.
Some credits: Commentary script R. Vidyasagar, Ajai Jacob. Research and co-ordinator Ajai Jacob. Editor Thangaraj. Co-director and still photographer: Kutti Revathi. Music S.L. Vaidyanathan. Produced by Action Aid International India at Shenoy Nagar, Chennai. Script, videography and direction R.R. Srinivasan.

About 300 documentaries...

Gujarat-based DRISHTI (drishtiad1 at sancharnet.in) has announced that it has a collection of "about 300 documentaries" in their library, from which they regularly lend films to individuals, students, NGOs and social movements. Said Drishti, "We are digitsing information on each of these films..."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A documentary on droughts, a story from Orissa

This is an article on Rupashree Nanda's film on drought, hunger and exploitation in Orissa. By some coincidence, one of our local newspapers here in Goa, the The Navhind Times carried a review of this documentary. Writer Bibhuti Mishra described it thus:
Villagers in the dry land of Bolangir in Orissa battle hunger, succumb to starvation and sell off children to survive. Landless and the marginal farmers are subjected to one of the worst forms of exploitation. In this sage a human suffering, both human and constitutional rights are violated year after year.
When an email came from here last, in January 2005, Rupashree Nanda's email address was rupsnanda at rediffmail.com (no spam please!). She had then forwarded a mail from the innovative BYOFF, started at Puri (Orissa). If you're wondering what that is, it stands for the bringyourown film festival, the organisers of which can be contacted at byoffpuri at rediffmail.com. That forwarded mail was a note from BYOFF to say that:
We wish to clarify that anybody can come with a film (made in any format) irrespective of the year in which it was made as long as the film has not been presented in BYOFF earlier. Yeah, even the Lumiere brothers are also welcome. As you know, BYOFF started with the idea of no awards, no juries, no selection and no hierarchy. The festival intends to go beyond and create a space for filmmakers, cinephiles, writers, painters, singers and artists from other fields to gather at one place, share their work, encourage the young ones and appreciate the old bosses. Artistes from other fields are also welcome to show their works. Don't have anything to show? No problem. Just come over and be one of us.
Nice to read of Rupashree Nanda's work. This is one film I'd like to have the chance to view! Needless to say, Indian documentary film-makers do deserve a better profile in the (print, but not only it) media.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Therapy for Tsunami-affected kids

Leena Manimekalai -- leenaraghu at yahoo.co.uk -- who describes herself as a media activist based in Chennai has completed a documentary feature on therapy for Tsunami-affected children in Nagapatinam (on the east coast of South India). She writes, "Just yesterday, it got premeired in the One Billion Eyes documentary festival in Chennai." An in case you were wondering, Chennai was formerly known as Madras -- India's fourth largest city located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, with an estimated population of 7.45 million. It also is the 41st largest metropolitan area in the world, is a large commercial and industrial centre, and is known for its cultural heritage and temple architecture.

SheWrite... narratives of work and Tamil poetry

Dr Anjali Monteiro and Dr K.P. Jayasankar of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar, Bombay's Unit for Media and Communications have announced the launch of SheWrite which they've jointly directed. SheWrite DVCAM, 55 mins, Tamil with English subtitles, 2005 They describe it thus:
SheWrite weaves together the narratives and work of four Tamil women poets. Salma negotiates subversive expression within the tightly circumscribed space allotted to a woman in the small town of Thuvarankurichi. She is able to defy and transcend family proscriptions on writing to become a significant voice questioning patriarchal mores in a powerful yet gentle way. For Kuttirevathi, a Siddha doctor and researcher based in Chennai, solitude is a crucial creative space from where her work resonates, speaking not just for herself but also for other women who are struggling to find a voice. Her anthology entitled Breasts (2003) became a controversial work that elicited hate mail, obscene calls and threats. The fact that a number of women poets are resisting patriarchy and exploring themes such as desire and sexuality in their creative work been virulently opposed by some Tamil film lyricists, who have gone on record with threats of death and violence. This has been resisted by a group of poets and other artists who have formed a collective called Anangu (Woman), which is attempting to expand the subversive creative spaces available to women writers and poets, across Tamil Nadu. Malathy Maitri, who lives in Pondicherry, has been a Dalit and Marxist activist. She is a founder member of Anangu. Her poems attempt to explore and express feminine power and spaces. Sukirtharani, a school teacher in Lalapet, writes of desire and longing, celebrating the body in a way that affirms feminine empowerment and a rejection of male-centred discourse. The film traverses these diverse modes of resistance, through images and sounds that evoke the universal experiences of pain, anger, desire and transcendence. More on the film at http://shewrite.tripod.com/index.htm
Their earlier work is Naata. Here's wishing Anjali and Jayasankar all the very best. Not the least for their persistence in bringing to light quality and interesting work... and also because they take the trouble to offer online links to the work.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Jinnah versus Jinnah, Pakistani versus Indian perspectives

Deccan Herald (Bangalore, August 14, 2005) is reporting that a documentary "Jinnah versus Jinnah", with voice-over by renowned advertising personality Alyque Padamsee, tries to "unravel questions regarding the the Qaid-e-Azam's ideology". This 45-minute film, produced by Zee News in collaboration with News Watch Asia, has been anchored by acclaimed actor Irrfan and was scheduled for telecast on August 14 on Zee News says a report titled 'Documentary on Jinnah for I-Day eve'. "The film portrays the lesser known facts about Jinnah, which people in India would like to know," Padamsee is quoted saying. DH News Service added, "The documentary is another path-breaking effort of Zee News to look at important events through the eyes of dispassionate observers. Indiatelevision.com has this report on Jinnah Vs.Jinnah. It says:
The 45-minute documentary, to be telecast at 8 pm, attempts to find some answers to the controversial historical personality and, in the process, raise some new questions. At the least, it promises to inform, said script-writer Anmol Saxena of News Watch Asia, the makers of the documentary. Was Jinnah a secular at heart? ... Was Jinnah communal from the very beginning? Or, is it too simplistic to categories his life span into one ideology? Or is he mystified in one nation and ignored in another? ... The film, rich in its footage from London and Karachi, has been produced by Zee News in collaboration with News Watch Asia comprsing some senior print medium jounalist like Raju Santhanam. While Mohammad Ali Jinnah has been given the status of Quad e Azam in Pakistan, very little is known about him in India. The film interviews prominent historians of Pakistan like Ayesha Jalal, London-based sub- continent researcher Syed Hasan Khan, British historian David Page, besides Mushurral Hassan and Professor Bipin Chandra to name a few. The film has also sourced letters from the archives to indicate that Jinnah and Winston Churchill were in secret correspondence as both were working towards a common cause of not to give the entire nation of India to the Congress.