Other Worlds Are Breathing: Panel Discussions

With ten complex themes and many filmmakers in attendance, there were sixteen panel discussions including 26 primary speakers — both filmmakers and activists alike — during the WSF film festival. Additionally, there were 20 qualified specialists drawn directly from the audience to enrich these panel and roundtable discussions. Panelists arrived from Canada (2), US (4), India (11), South Africa (1), France (1), Thailand (1), UK (2), Pakistan (2), Germany (1) and Morocco (1). The format of the panel presentations and Q&A sessions was to show 3-5 films that had been curated along the aforementioned themes and then to have their representatives/filmmakers discuss cumulative issues brought out by the overall body of films in the thematic sub-section. This also allowed for filmmakers to field questions pertaining to individual films.

When film makers were present they briefly introduced the film (or we read out text send by them) and took part in the panel discussion. Normally a screening of 3-4 films was followed by a panel discussion, and each day there were 3 panel discussions. There were notable exceptions of course. The entire section on ‘Identities’ was too short to be truncated by a discussion which was held at the end, after screening 5 films in a row. ‘The Corporation’, the theme film of the festival was too long to be clubbed with any other and had a discussion on its own. Arundhati Roy joined this panel and extended her views on shutting down corporations. Apart from film makers who were present in the panels (alas, so few!) we also invited panelists who were subject experts.

Saturday, January 17

Auditorium Ghatak

The Global Market

Patti Lynn (+ qualified specialists): Making a Killing: Philip Morris, Kraft and Global Tobacco Addiction
Tony Avirgan: Trinkets and Beads

Dennis Brutus: I am a Rebel

The discussion was colourful and vibrant. Dennis Brutus, the subject of I am a Rebel was present and the audience did not want stop asking him his views and aims. The panelists, almost in one voice, condemned globalisation and asked people to be vigilant.

The Global Market

Arlene Ami read a letter from Mark Achbar, the filmmaker of The Corporation and Arundhati Roy spoke on his behalf after the film.

Auditorium Eisenstein

A World at War

Madeline and David Kaplowitz represented In Whose Interest?

Due to technical problems the auditorium lost some of the audience by the time the discussion began. The two panelists talked about why they made the film and challenges they faced. A couple of questions were asked from the audience and a sing-up sheet was passed around for emails.

A World at War

Anand Patwardhan (+ 5 qualified specialists): War and Peace

This was one of the most attended panels. The panelists discussed problems specific to India and the proceeding film’s topic of nuclear proliferation.

Sunday, January 18

Auditorium Ghatak

The Global Market

Patrice Barrat: Globalisation: Violence or Dialogue

The discussion focused on the subject of the film.

A World of Work and Survival

Arlene Ami: Say I Do

Many questions were asked about the status of the women the film had portrayed. Additionally, Arlene Ami had promised to collect visiting cards for Mark Achbar, the director of The Corporation and many people inundated her with this.

Auditorium Eisenstein

A World at War

Zoe Young: On the Buses

Gopal Menon: Papa 2

Panelist Zoe Young discussed why and how her film On the Buses was made. Gopal Menon discussed his film Papa 2 and people asked several questions about the political issues involved in both films.

Monday, January 19

Auditorium Ghatak

A World of Work and Survival

N. S. Eye (+ gender specialists from across Asia) represented Silk and Iron

Life, Politics, Struggle

Gautam Sonti: Anjawa is Me, I am Anjawa

Rakesh Sharma: Aftershocks: The Rough Guide to Democracy

Suma Josson: Gujarat: A Laboratory of Hindu Rashtra

This was the most controversial panel till date. A section of the audience took umbrage to Suma’s film and the questions almost moved towards heckling. Todd Lester, in charge of the panel discussions, made many interventions to keep the questions focussed to the subject.

Auditorium Eisenstein

The Woman’s World

Munizae Jehangir: Search for Freedom: A Story about Four Afghan Women (She also conducted a Q & A session just after her film the night before.

Genevie Vaughan represented Austin Women in Black: The War is Over, Why are You Still There?

Karin Jurschick: The Peacekeepers and the Women

Beena Sarwar: Forced Marriage-Abroad

The four panelists talked about the making of their films. Genevie Vaughan discussed her organization Austin Women in Black and the problems they encountered filming in Texas. Several questions were asked about Karin Jurschick’s film The Peacekeepers and the Women and how she was able to interview the women she did. There was a lot of interest in Munizae Jehangir’s film Search for Freedom: A Story about four Afghan Women.


Sridhar Rangarayan of Solaris Films spoke with the filmmakers of The Crooked Line, Arunima Shankar and Aparna Sanyal.

Following four films about sexual identity, the panelists talked about gender identities and the challenges faced by homosexuals in India. The auditorium was quite crowded but not too many questions were asked, perhaps due to the subject matter.

Tuesday, January 20

Auditorium Eisenstein


While there was a lot of interest in this section, especially in the film Seeing is Believing by Peter Wintonic, unfortunately there could be no discussion as the film makers couldn’t come. This was one of the two breaks that people insisted on staying on for, and wanted to talk. So, instead, we showed a short film from Cuba, Deficiando that was a visual representation of the spirit of resistance of the Cuban people.

The World, Abused II

Karyn Keenan represented the film The Price of Gold and her anti-mining advocacy

Zoe Young: Suits and Savages: Why the World Bank Won’t Save the World

Rita Banerji: Under the Sun: The Transient Fisherfolk of Jambudwip

Sanjay Kak: Words on Water

Following four films on environmental injustice the panelists talked about their experience and shared experience from the movements that they represented in the films. This was a hugely attended panel. The audience was quite crowded and many wanted to know the situation of the different areas today.

Auditorium Ghatak

The World, Abused I

Ajay Noronha: Bhaile

A brief discussion took place on the current situation in Goa with tourism , especially sex-tourism and the increase of pedophiles. An activist from the audience, Roland Martins, also cautioned other participants about using visuals of children unthinkingly. He had noted that some stalls had displayed photographs of naked children and he cautioned people against such use.

Other Worlds are Breathing

Anjali Monteiro & K. P. Jayasanker: Naata

Scott O’Brian & Saw Eh Do Wah: Karen education surviving

This was a very special panel with a full house of 550 people in the audience. The panelists from Burma requested that there should be no photograph as they were under military dictatorship. A very spirited discussion took place on the need for hope in the present days of calamities. Anjali shared some of her experience during shooting. Scott and Saw Eh Do Wah too did the same. The panel was joined by Bhau, one of the protagonists of Naata.

Other Words are breathing

In the final panel of the film festival we were very honoured to have Faouzi Skali and Waddick Doyle who led the audience into a discussion on culture, identity and challenges. This was the closing panel and the very eminent panel led a spirited discussion on culture. They observed that the WSF in India had put culture on the agenda and commented on the diversity in India which provides hope to many people. They nuanced, in their presentation, aspects of culture and identity. This was a fitting end to the film festival indeed.


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