The Films: Theme Parlours

PR09PosterA Festival of Contemporary Political Films

Organised by
Magic Lantern Foundation & India International Centre

April 17, 18 and 19, 2009
Entry Free

Venue: India International Centre, 40 Max Mueller Marg, Lodhi Estate,
New Delhi 110003

Theme Parlour 1


Bushman’s Secret

Director: Rehad Desai
65 min, 2006, SOUTH AFRICA

bushmanWhen South African filmmaker Rehad Desai travels to the Kalahari to investigate global interest in ancient Bushmen knowledge, he meets Jan van der Westhuizen, a fascinating Khomani San traditional healer. Jan’s struggle to live close to nature is hampered by centuries of colonial exploitation of the San Bushmen and of their land. Unable to hunt and gather, the Khomani now live in a state of poverty that threatens to see the last of this community forever.

One plant could make all the difference. Hoodia, a cactus used by Bushmen for centuries, has caught the attention of a giant pharmaceutical company. It now stands to decide the fate of the Khomani San.

‘Bushman’s Secret’ features breathtaking footage of the Kalahari landscape, and exposes us to a world where modernity collides with ancient ways, at a time when each has, strangely, come to rely on the other.


Suits And Savages: Why The World Bank Won’t Save The World

Director: Zoe Young & Dylan Howitt
38 min, 2000, UK

SuitsAndSavages‘Suits and Savages – Why the World Bank Won’t Save the World’ penetrates the smokescreen of a global bureaucracy …

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) looks promising on paper – it offers two and a half billion dollars from the world’s governments to spend on global green aid and an inclusive, democratic model of governance. But does this newest of the international financial institutions live up to its own rhetoric?

‘Suits and Savages’ looks at a GEF/World Bank ‘eco-development’ project from the ground up – travelling between one remote tribe in India to another more powerful one in Washington DC; spanning the gulf between their environments with a video letter from the forest to the Bank.


Meals Ready

Director: Vani Subramanian & Surajit Sarkar
46 min, 1996, INDIA

meals-readyIn the era of free markets the common assumption is that markets work with equal benefits to all. Yet the ground reality shows that markets are deeply embedded in the societies they function within. Meals Ready examines the market of South India_s most important foodgrain: Rice. In the town of Walajabad, Tamil Nadu the unequal bargaining power of the growers, financiers and buyers of rice is directly linked to hierarchies of power prevailing across rural Tamil society. Be they the hierarchies of caste and gender, or politics and religion. By ignoring these links, market-led economic reform in the India threatens to deepen these inequalities and therefore the very existence of the symbol of the Indian countryside: the small farmer.


Harvesting Hunger

Director: Krishnendu Bose
53 min, 2000, INDIA

HarvestingHungerThere are over 300 million people in India who do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional requirements. With further intrusion of the market economy and increasing corporatisation of Indian agriculture, it is suspected that millions more will go hungry in the first decades of the new millenium.

‘Harvesting Hunger’ is a journey into this impending world of hunger and famine, an exploration of the deepening crisis of food security in the country.

Theme Parlour 2


Little Republics

Director: Gautam Sonti
65 min, 2004, INDIA

LittleRepublicsWith the adoption of the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution of India in 1993, it became mandatory to reserve seats in Panchayats (local elected governing bodies) for oppressed sections of society. One-third of all seats were reserved for women and seats were reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in proportion to their populations.

This far-reaching policy of positive discrimination has been sabotaged in many parts of the country by male family members, upper caste men and politicians, who field proxy candidates.
The films revolve around the experiences of a few elected scheduled caste and scheduled tribe women in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. Through an ethnography of four villages, we look at the way in which power is controlled and misused – in the home, community and outside world.


From Dust

Director: Dhruv Dhawan
56 min, 2005, UAE, SRI LANKA

FromDustFilmed in Sri Lanka, ‘From Dust’ is a cinematic expose that takes an incisive look at a government’s response to a natural disaster. Shot in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami, this documentary brings us into close contact with three people Ravi, Cyril and Cameron and questions why survivors in Sri Lanka weren’t allowed to rebuild their homes along Sri Lanka’s coastline.

Following a span of major natural disasters, this film reveals life in tents and ulterior motives that are stalling the rebuilding effort in Sri Lanka – an untold story about a “100 meter rule” and the opportunities that arise in the wake of an natural disaster.


Taxi To Timbuktu

Director: Christopher Walker
52 min, 1995, USA

Taxi2TimbuktuAlpha drives a taxi in New York. When he arrived in the city he fell in love with the limousines and had to learn how to drive. Day and night he crosses the city keeping out of trouble-guns, traffic jams and stroppy passengers. Last year 47 drivers, mainly Africans, were murdered.

“Where are you from?” asks a fare. “M-A-L-I….that’s MAli. The country is very poor and very dry so we come here, make some money and send it back to the family.”

From New York to Paris to Tokyo to the edge of the Sahara, Alpha and his village are fighting for their lives. A story of Africa and the world at the end of the 20th century.


Pretty Dyana

Director: Boris Mitic
45 min, 2003, SERBIA

Dyane10An intimate look at Gypsy refugees in a Belgrade suburb who make a living by transforming Citroen’s classic 2CV and Dyana cars into Mad Max-like recycling vehicles, which they use to collect cardboard, bottles and scrap metal. These modern horses are much more efficient than the cart-pushing competition, but even more important – they also mean freedom, hope and style for their crafty owners. Even the car batteries are used as power generators in order to get some light, watch TV and recharge mobiles! Almost an alchemist’s dream come true! But the police doesn’t always find these strange vehicles funny….


Planeta Alemania

Observations From Invisibility
Director: Dogfilm & Companeros
38 min, 1999, GERMANY

planeta‘Planeta Alemania’ is the attempt to make a cinematic portrait of a woman, who is not able to position herself in front of the camera. “It is like being constantly on the run. We live practically like criminals without having committed any crime.” In Germany are many people living and working without a status of legal residence, “without papers”. From television we know them as “illegal people”: made unrecognizable or degraded to “shadow people”, equally as victims and suspects.

Within talks / audio recordings over several months we have, together with our protagonist, developed the drama structure for this film, from which the concept of images resulted.

Fragmentary, in different tableaus, an image of a person comes into being, without her actually leaving invisibility. Her analysis, her dreams, her expectations and her thoughts enable us to take a different point of view onto the ‘Planeta Alemania’.


My Migrant Soul

Director: Yasmine Kabir
34 min, 2000, BANGLADESH

MyMigrantSoul‘My Migrant Soul’ is about Shahjahan Babu, a young migrant worker from Bangladesh who left for Malaysia in search of work. Having sold only piece of property – and virtually mortgaging his life – the young man arrives in the host country to experience only disillusionment, misery and frustration. The film ends with tragic consequences for the protagonist of the film.

The film highlights the plight of the migrant worker in these times, and uses the story of one person to illustrate those of countless others who have suffered at the hands of those who have stood to profit from bartering lives.

Theme Parlour 3



Director: Ajay Noronha
40 min, 2001, INDIA

outsidersThe film is an attempt to illustrate the occurrence of tourism-related child sex abuse in India, using Goa as a case in point. It speaks to a cross-section of Goans and concerned individuals elsewhere, in order to discuss as comprehensively the issues involved, its guiding force being the innocence of the child.


Colours Black

Director: Mamta Murthy
31 min, 2001, INDIA

ColorBlack3Looking for a way to break the silence around sexual abuse in the family, to find a new articulation for the experience away from the meanings of privileged language, this film constructs four narratives from the point of view of children who have been abused.

As the narratives accumulate, the child’s world of colour, rhyme, toys, games, fantasy and bedtime story becomes fragmented by the jagged adult memories of abuse.


Snapshots From A Family Album

Director: Avijit Mukul Kishore
63 min, 2004, INDIA

SnapshotsManju and Nirmal Kishore (and their two sons) are migrants in the metropolis of Bombay, having spent most of their lives in Delhi. The film begins with Manju and Nirmal living separately because of their jobs. He, choleric, steady, is a senior management executive in a corporate house in Bombay. She, winsome, talkative, teaches Hindi literature in Delhi University. The family frequently travels between cities to be together.

Somewhere in the distance is Allahabad, the Kishores’ North-Indian hometown. ‘Snapshots from a Family Album’ chronicles a family and its journeys over five years at a particular moment in their history: as the idea of ‘home’ is being reconfigured across three distinct cities and cultures – of Bombay, New Delhi and Allahabad.


Search For Freedom

A Story About Four Afghan Women
Director: Munizae Jahangir
56 min, 2003, PAKISTAN, USA

SearchForFreedom‘Search for Freedom’ explores the lives of four Afghan women who were affected by the political and social turmoil in Afghanistan, from the 1920′s to the present day. The women – a princess, Afghanistan’s first woman singer, a war widow and mother of four, and a young medical student – relate their own stories, depicting what they felt and sensed as events unfolded around them. The film offers an in depth insight into the human stories of the Afghan political conflict, linking the personal to the political.


Skin Deep

Director: Reena Mohan
83 min, 1998, INDIA

Skindeep‘Skin Deep’ is an exploration of body images and self identity among contemporary urban middle class women in India: a feeling of being too dark, too fat, too old, that everyone experiences and attempts to come to terms with. The film attempts to trace the dynamics of the eternal search for the ideal feminity and how it permeates the self image of women. Shot in the form of docu-fiction, six enacted first person narratives comprise the basic structure of the film.

Theme Parlour 6


Narrow Is The Gate

Director: Katarina Uibo
65 min, 2002, ESTONIA

NarrowIsTheGateFor the few Serbs who remain in Kosovo after the NATO bombing of Kosovo in 2000, Gracanica Convent is an island of peace, guarded not only by the prayers of the nuns inside, but also by the NATO tanks that guard the convent walls. At the gateway between these two worlds is Sister Teodora, who with a joke and tear tries to balance her hostility to Albanians with her religious calling to love them.


Memories Of A Future

Director: Margaret Dickinson & Pepe Petos
84 min, 2007, UK, SPAIN

MemoriesFutureThe story revolves around a visit made in 2006 by a party from Britain, to mark the 70th anniversary of the formation of the International Brigades, foreign units in the Republican army. Among the group were British and Irish veterans of the war and many descendants of Brigadiers. The highlight was a walk over the Pyrenees from France to Spain, following one of the paths the volunteers took in secret, at night when the frontier was closed.

Around this event, the filmmakers weave a reflection on the past, the memory of the past and the present, in which it is remembered.


Hope Dies Last In War

Director: Supiryo Sen
80 min, 2007, INDIA

Hope354 Indian soldiers taken as Prisoners of War during the Indo-Pak war of 1971 are yet to return home – yet both countries deny they have any prisoners of war. While waiting for them, some of their parents died, some of their wives remarried and some children lost hope and committed suicide. But the real ordeal has been for those who did not give up. For them life has become a tight rope walk between hope and despair. This film is a saga of these families’ struggle, spanning three generations, to get their men back. It records a tragic political stalemate, sufferings of love and shining moments of humanity, courage and hope.


Black Pamphlets

Director: Nitin K.
84 min, 2007, INDIA

BlackPamphletsIn the times of global consumerism and rising youth population, ‘Black Pamphlets’ penetrates into the process of democracy practiced in India through students’ elections and exposes the rule of money and muscle in it.

The film takes viewers into the green and chirpy campus of Delhi University, where more than eighty thousand students directly elect their representatives for the students union. Following the twelve-day election campaign, the film tries to find out the temper of youth and the mindset of student community in the neo-liberal democracy of India towards the process of election.

The film also tries to initiate a parallel between real-life heroes of Indian freedom struggle who rose from their student-days, and the present generation of youth. It also questions whether those real-life heroes of the past hold any significance in the present day or have they become just fictional characters? The film finally questions if there is any space left for alternative ideas.



Amudhan R. P.
74 min, 2006, INDIA

SeruppuIn an old slum called Dharmananthapuram, in the heart of Turuchirappalli in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu live a community that make footwear – the Catholic Arundhatiyars. They follow a traditional Dalit occupation in this, but according to the Presidential Order 1950: Para 3, by the Union Government of India, “No person who professes a religion different from Hindu, shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.” So even as Dalits who have converted to Islam or Christianity continue to live out the historical oppressions of caste, they are denied access to reservations in jobs, education and other mechanisms of affirmative action set up for Scheduled Castes as per the Indian Constitution. As mechanisation in footwear manufacturing grows in an era of globalisation, Arundhatiyars occupy a world of growing difficulty and invisibility.

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