FSA 1999

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At Himal Association and Himal magazine, we started on the road of organising documentary film festivals with Film Himalaya ’94 in February of that year. This was followed by Film Southasia ’97, the first-ever Southasia-wide coming together of non-fiction films. We now proudly present Film Southasia ’99, with a line-up of offering which proves (as the festival T-shirt proclaims) that the Subcontinent is producing “more and better documentaries”.

We were overwhelmed by the response to our call for entries for FSA ’99, in terms of number, variety, as well as quality. Choosing 52 from among the 149 films entered was therefore a challenge for the selection panel, which viewed each of the entries and made its choices on the basis of overall excellence (but also giving some thought to thematic diversity and geographical spread). Of the 52 films being screened at FSA ’99, 45 are in competition, including five short films. (Only films made in or after 1997 were eligible for competition.)

Among the films being screened, 13 could be roughly classified as social commentary, 10 as reportage, 10 as profiles, six on women and children, five political/ historical, four ethnographic, and four’ others’. Country-wise, 33 films are from India, five from Bangladesh, five from Nepal, four from Pakistan and one from Sri Lanka. India is well represented at FSA ’99, for obvious reasons of size, economy and media evolution, but the selection panel was distressed that Pakistan and Sri Lanka in particular were not producing more non-fiction films. At the same time, it must be noted (and this applies beyond documentary films) that the key to being ‘Southasian’ does not lie in representing the nation-states; rather it is the populated regions of the Subcontinent that does so. Going by this ‘extra-national’ definition of Southasia, we find that the 52 films do a fairly good job of covering the landscape of the Subcontinent.

As organisers, we had made the forceful point during the last festival in 1997 that opportunities for documentary-viewing must be expanded all over. Film clubs, video libraries, theatres, terrestrial and satellite television must make more space for non-fiction, and Southasia already has filmmakers with the skill and commitment to provide informative, interesting and useful productions. In the increasingly laissez faire media arena dominated by accountability to the market alone, concerned Southasians must come together to form a pressure group that demands air-time for the documentary. One cannot wait for the governments(s) of Southasia to act on their own.

Continuing our efforts to popularise Southasian documentaries everywhere, this time too we will be sending 15 select films of FSA ’99 all over as part of the Travelling Film Southasia. We were gratified by the reception TFSA ’97 received all over Southasia as well as in the US and Europe, and are confident that TFSA ’99 will contribute even more building a global constituency for the Southasian documentary.

Many will be surprised to learn that a film festival of the size and scope of Film Southasia ’99 has been organised with a budget of only USD 14,500. This is so mainly due to the voluntary contribution of time and energy by documentary-lovers near and far, as well as equipment-loans from several Kathmandu-based organisations. However, the biggest thank you goes, naturally, to the makers of the 52 documentaries, most of whom have converged from the far corners of the Subcontinent and are here today at FSA ’99.

Even as you enjoy FSA ’99 we would advise you to gear up for the next event in our line-up, which will be in the form of the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival, being organised in December 2000. And then, before long, it will be time for FSA ’01…

For the Jury Citation of Film Southasia ’99 click here.

  • 1950s Nepal in Colour (Eight Years of Criss-Crossing Roadless Nepal)
    Year 1950  
    Length 60'  
    Directed by
    Tony Hagen
    Language
    English

    Arriving in Nepal in 1950, Toni Hagen was the first foreigner to trek throughout Nepal, a country hitherto forbidden and unknown. This was in the course of the geological and geographic survey work and mapping that the Swiss geologist undertook on behalf of the United Nations.

  • A Burden of Love
    Year 1998  
    Length 45'  
    Directed by
    Brahmand Singh,Priti Chandriani
    Language
    English

    This film explores the status of Alzheimer's disease in the Indian Context. Featuring many of those who suffer from it, their family members and caregivers and people from the medical establishment, the film attempts to portray aspects of this cruel illness with sensitivity and empathy.

  • A Letter to Samten
    Year 1999  
    Length 25'  
    Directed by
    Alex Gabbay
    Language
    English

    Intended as a portrait of a small Bhutanese community that found itself in India after the British annexed the area in 1865, the film gives a glimpse of how Bhutanese life has been maintained in the Himalayan village of Pedang, in Darjeeling district, India, only fifteen kilometres from the border of Bhutan.

  • AIDS, Lies and Documentaries
    Year 1999  
    Length Not listed
    Directed by
    Ananya Chatterjee
    Language
    Begali,English,Hindi

    Aids, Lies and Documentaries is a self-conscious journey through the process of investigative journalism -- the tendions between telling a story that the topic of empowering sex workers in Calcutta through an STD-HIV intervention program, the fimmaker stumbles on another story...

  • Barka Naach (The Big Dance)
    Year 1999  
    Length 58'  
    Directed by
    Deependra Gauchan
    Language
    English

    Barka Naach captures in film not only the dance but also the preparations for it and the history behind it.

  • Blue, Black, Yellow
    Year 1995  
    Length 55'  
    Directed by
    RV Ramani
    Language
    Tamil

    Achyuthan Kudallur inaugurates his exhibition of abstract paintings in Chennai. The filmmaker goes on a quizzical journey through colors, forms, space, movement and gestures at the exhibition.

  • Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
    Year 1998  
    Length 20'  
    Directed by
    RV Ramani
    Language
    Tamil

    Toskikaju Kanai is a Japanese sculptor who works primarily in clay. At the suggestion of the filmmaker, for the first time Toshi tries working with sand near the beach of Chennai. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva is the documentation of a passing moment, a simple appreciation of life's undramatic moments and fortuitous encounters.

  • Bringing in the New Year at Kutia Vali
    Year 1998  
    Length 3'  
    Directed by
    Leith Gill Margai
    Language
    English

    This video recounts the events of a New Year's Eve and Day spent in Punjab on a hunting trip. Rural and urban environments are juxtaposed with the mystery and brutality of hunting. British DJ Badmaarsh also makes appearance with concert footage in New York.

  • California Dreaming: A film on Indian Brides for Export
    Year 1998  
    Length 30'  
    Directed by
    Meera Dewan
    Language
    English,Punjabi

    California Dreaming is a documentary on the migratory trend of young brides from rural Punjab to USA, Canada, UK and Germany, as marriage offers from abroad arrive.

  • Distant Paths: On the Road in another Nepal
    Year 1999  
    Length 45'  
    Directed by
    Regina Strassegger
    Language
    German

    This film is a trekking movie shot in the Dolakhar/ Rolwalling area. Bishnu Khadka, a local employee from Singati, leads us through the film. The key topics - the beauty of the country, underdevelopment - are interwoven in the narrative. The film is informative and poetic, reflective and emotive.

  • Do Flowers Fly?
    Year 1998  
    Length 5'  
    Directed by
    Prosenjith Ganguly
    Language
    English

    An animation film made as a student project at the National Institute of Design, India. It examines a philosophy of education that churns out parrots versus a policy of education where children grow in tune with nature.

  • Don't Pass Me by
    Year 1999  
    Length 40'  
    Directed by
    Christina Lamey,Kristi Vuorinen,Sarah Kapoor
    Language
    English,Hindi,Nepali

    Don't Pass Me By is a story about an odd intersection of lives in the tourist town of Pokhara, Nepal. Locals and tourists have been crossing paths here since the 60s, but don't often move out of the local-serving-tourist context. The filmmakers figured that there had to be more to each side.

  • Duhshomoy (A Mother's Lament)
    Year 1999  
    Length 26'  
    Directed by
    Yasmine Kabir
    Language
    Bangla

    Rather than presenting the story of Shima Choudhury as an investigative piece, the video attempts to explore the issue from a personal perspective - the sense of disempowerment and hopelessness the family undergoes as it struggles to cope with the girl's incarceration leading to her death.

  • Dukher Pashe Darao Eshe (A Time to Unite)
    Year 1998  
    Length 6'  
    Directed by
    Catherine Masud,Tareque Masud
    Language
    Bengali

    This video song tells the story of the fight of the people of Bangladesh to overcome the worst floods of the century in 1998. The singer is a fisherman who sings a folk song about the floods while net fishing on one of Bangladesh's rivers.

  • Ek Minute Ka Maun (A Minute Long SIlence)
    Year 1997  
    Length 72'  
    Directed by
    Ajay Bhardwaj
    Language
    Hindi

    In the small town of Siwan, Bihar, the student activist Chandreskar Prasad is assassinated. A series of student protests ensue, at which the police address the crowds with water cannons and lathis. As the perpetrators identified by eyewitnesses have still not been charged...

  • Fishers of Men
    Year 1997  
    Length 117  
    Directed by
    Padmavathi Rao,Ranjan Kamath
    Language
    English,Hindi

    In the absence of dialogue between Hindu revivalists and Christian tribes, this feature length documentary represents and effort to understand how the two communities will coexist within a secular India fabric. Through extensive and well-juxtaposed interviews, the film raises a number of important issues regarding communalism in India.

  • Fishing in the Sea of Greed
    Year 1998  
    Length 45'  
    Directed by
    Anand Patwardhan
    Language
    Bengali,English,Hindi,Marathi,Tamil

    Fishing in the Sea of Greed investigates various aspects of the ongoing struggles between local coastal populations and government policies which increasingly favor global, commercial enterprise. IT chronicles the establishment, activities and protests of a fisherpeople's union in Western India. The film then moves to Bangladesh...

  • Forced (A Video Log on the Status of Children of Far-Western Nepal)
    Year 1999  
    Length 24'  
    Directed by
    Bimal Rawal,Kiran K. Shrestha
    Language
    Nepali,Tharu

    The film deals with the issue of Kammaiya and highlights an incident of child drag marriage.

  • Goa Under Siege
    Year 1999  
    Length 30'  
    Directed by
    Gargi Sen
    Language
    English,Konkani

    The film investigates the impact of large-scale tourism on the hosts: their ecology, economy and culture. The filmmakers gain access to and present the voices of many players in the drama: ministers, hotel owners, activists and local residents.

  • Hamri Baaten (I'm Just an Ordinary Woman)
    Year 1998  
    Length 63'  
    Directed by
    Nandini Bedi
    Language
    Hindi

    Following the efforts of the organisation Sabla Sangh, the film goes through a range of issues like families who support their women, rethinking the value of girls, the idea of a woman's control over her own life through control over her sexual and reproductive self and life after widowhood.

  • In the Eye of the Fish
    Year 1997  
    Length 34'  
    Directed by
    Monica Narcula Shuddhubart
    Language
    English

    The film is an exploration of the educational system in today's India through the eyes of three different characters located in three different social, institutional and geographical spaces. It explores the experiences and questions of students about themselves, their schools and their lives.

  • In the Forest Hangs a Bridge
    Year 1999  
    Length 39'  
    Directed by
    Sanjay Kak
    Language
    Hindi

    For one week in the year, the people of Damro village, in the hills of Arunachal Pradesh in the northeastern extremity of India, gather to build a suspension bridge. The film is an account of the construction of the bridge...

  • It's Got to Be a Boy
    Year 1998  
    Length 13'  
    Directed by
    Ram Mohan
    Language
    English

    It's Got to Be a Boy, a part of a series of 13 animated film episodes produced by UNICEF, highlights parents preference for boys and how plucky Meena overcomes the prejudice.

  • Jibon (Life)
    Year 1998  
    Length 56'  
    Directed by
    Altaf Mazid
    Language
    Assamese

    This quasi-autobiographical film is a personal and private story of a mother and her only son of 12 years who suffers from Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy, a disease with no present cure...

  • Julpari
    Year 1996  
    Length 22'  
    Directed by
    Leith Murgai,Swati Khurana
    Language
    English

    Julpari, (water fairy in Urdu) is an experimental documentary film on Faraz Ahmed, a drag queen and gay activist from Pakistan, living in New York City. Faraz and his family explore such provocative actions as gender, sexuality, immigration, ethnicity and Islam and fun.

  • Katre Mein Samandar: Bhai Mian Sagira, Begum. (Portraits of Belonging: Sagira, Begum)
    Year 1997  
    Length 34'  
    Directed by
    Sameera Jain
    Language
    Hindi

    Like many others of the Muslim minority community in India, Bhai Man's life is a struggle against odds. The film is a portrait of the man in his daily context, a man whose ordinariness barely conceals his imagination and resilience.

  • Kumar Talkies
    Year 1999  
    Length 76'  
    Directed by
    Pankaj Rishi Kumar
    Language
    Hindi

    Kumar Talkies explores the relationship between Kalpi, a small town in northern India and its only surviving cinema theatre, a decrepit and cash-strapped shed located in a particularly dirty corner of the town. The film represents cinema as simultaneously a vehicle that conveys a remote, urban imagination...

  • Laaj (Veiled)
    Year 1997  
    Length 15'  
    Directed by
    P.C. Kishore,Rappai Poothokaren SJ
    Language
    Gujarati

    This docudrama visualizes a poem written by the great Gujarati poetess of liberation, Saroop Dhruv, called Bondage. This film was made to create awareness among women about their situation and encourage them to strive for change...

  • Listening to Shadows
    Year 1998  
    Length 26'  
    Directed by
    Koushik Sarkar
    Language
    English

    Listening to Shadows is an exploration of the worlds of the sighted and the blind, a dialogue between the filmmaker and a visually impaired friend.

  • Mobile Theatre
    Year 1999  
    Length Pakistan  
    Directed by
    Khalid Ahhad
    Language
    English,Urdu

    Tehrik-e-Niswan, literally "The Women's Movement" is a cultural action group for women's rights in Pakistan. For the past twenty years it has been performing theatre for and with various underprivileged communities in and around Karachi. The film is about the Mobile Theatre experience.

  • Muktir Kotha (Words of Freedom)
    Year 1999  
    Length 80'  
    Directed by
    Catherine Masud,Tareque Masud
    Language
    Bengali

    Muktir Kotha is a film about the continuing liberation struggle of the Bangladeshi for a more just and democratic society, for the dreams they had for their country, their present frustrations and their new expectations. It is a record of the ways in which ordinary people feel....

  • First Prize 1999
    No One Believes the Professor
    Year 1999  
    Length 25'  
    Directed by
    Farjad Nabi
    Language
    English,Punjabi

    Professor Sahid: a poet, actor, philosopher, athlete, hopeful Oscar, Olympics and Nobel Prize winner who walks the line between genius and divine madness, drawing both jeers and admiration from his audience. The professor is a man whose slef-belief shocks...

  • Padhoge Likhoge Hoge Nawab (Is the School the Thing that Makes a King?)
    Year 1998  
    Length 34'  
    Directed by
    Surajit Sarkar,Vani Subramanian
    Language
    English,Hindi,Telugu

    This saying clearing reflects society's hope that school education will be a salvation for the young. But how well founded is this notion? In present day India, schooling is not as widespread or effective as it is hoped to be. Instead of offering yet another adult perspective on the subject, the films talks to some school-going children to explore what schooling means to them.

  • Pramila - Ester Victoria Abraham
    Year 1997  
    Length 58'  
    Directed by
    Asha Dutta
    Language
    English

    Pramila is a Jewish actress who has worked in Hindi films since 1935. This film emerged out of a Visual History Workshop on her career, conducted in Mumbai in 1997. Through extensive interviews with Pramila during the workshop and in her home...

  • Second Prize 1999
    Pure Chutney
    Year 1998  
    Length 42'  
    Directed by
    Sanjeev Chatterjee
    Language
    English

    Pure Chutney is an exploration of the mix of Trinidadian-Indian culture. The film takes up as its theme the undeniable hybridity of postcolonial societies, and celebrates in some measure the events and accidents of history that constitute the Indian Diaspora.

  • Third Prize 1999
    Ragi: Kana Ko Bonga Buru (Buddha Weeps in Jadugoda)
    Year 1999  
    Length 76'  
    Directed by
    Shriprakash
    Language
    Hindi

    Jadugoda is a tribal populated area in Bihar. It first came into prominence when uranium deposits were discovered in the area. The government agency that's mining the uranium make no attempt to protect the lives of the people and the environment of the area and this has resulted to genetic mutations and death...

  • Rahima: A Victim of Systemic Violence
    Year 1998  
    Length 34'  
    Directed by
    Fuad Chowdhury
    Language
    Bengali

    After refusing to become a prostitute for her husband, she suffered violent attacks by him. She reported this to the police, but, after taking a bribe from her husband, they did nothing. This prompted her husband to mutilating Ramlila and to leave her next to the railroad tracks to die.

  • Ribbons for Peace
    Year 1998  
    Length 5'  
    Directed by
    Anand Patwardhan
    Language
    Hindi

    This anti-nuke music video incorporates a 1960s film song composed and sung by Kishore Kumar.

  • Rokeya
    Year 1996  
    Length 63'  
    Directed by
    Manzare Hassin
    Language
    Bengali

    Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of women's liberation and the social progress movement in the India Subcontinent. The film portrays her struggle and achievements through interviews with persons who knew her, scholars who have done extensive research on her life...

  • Sathveni Sandeva Geethaya (Song of the Seventh Evening)
    Year 1998  
    Length 40'  
    Directed by
    Sudath Mahadivulwewa
    Language
    English

    The song of the Seventh Evening documents the life of a wandering tribe of Gypsies in Sri Lanka. Based on prior academic research, the film takes a social scientific approach and through linguistic analysis attempts to explain the origins of the Gypsies and the history of their migration from region to region.

  • Skin Deep
    Year 1998  
    Length 83'  
    Directed by
    Reena Mohan
    Language
    Bengali,English,Hindi,Marathi,Tamil

    The film traces the dynamics of the eternal search for the ideal femininity and how it permeates the self-image of contemporary women. Shot in the form of a docu-feature, it recreates interviews with various women into six first person narratives about body images and self-perception.

  • Sun, Fire, River: Ajrak Cloth From Soil of Sindh
    Year 1998  
    Length 30'  
    Directed by
    Noor Jehan Bilgirami
    Language
    Sindhi

    Sun, Fire, River is an attempt to express the unbreakable bond between the elements used in the production of Ajrak cloth and their importance to regional life. Following the elaborate, multi-staged process of Ajrak production, the film takes us through the artisan's "dance" with the cloth...

  • Sundari (An Actor Prepares)
    Year 1998  
    Length 30'  
    Directed by
    Madhushree Dutta
    Language
    English,Hindi

    This film is based on a play directed by Anuradha Kapur on the life of Jayashankar, a popular female impersonator of the Gujrati stage in early 20th century Bombay. With the aid of his autobiography, the play traces his journey as an actor from a boy to a man..

  • Talking Peace
    Year 1999  
    Length Not listed
    Directed by
    Hridaynath Gharekhan,Suhasini Mulay
    Language
    English,Urdu

    The film examines the history of the hostile relations between India and Pakistan. It also examines the deliberate attempt made by the governments, political bodies and fundamentalist organisations with vested interest to keep this hostility alive. The film makes an appeal for peace between the two countries.

  • Grand Jury Award 1999
    The Forgotten Army
    Year 1997  
    Length 105'  
    Directed by
    Kabir Khan,Vineet Sabharwal
    Language
    English

    The Forgotten Army launches an expedition to retrace the historic march of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army and the series of events that took place between 1942 and 1945. The film escorts a number of the Army's veterans back to Singapore and Burma as they reconstruct the various stages of the march through their memories.

  • First Prize 1999
    Thin Air
    Year 1999  
    Length 42'  
    Directed by
    Ashim Ahluwalia
    Language
    English

    Thin Air chronicles the lives of three magicians against the backdrop of contemporary Bombay and offers a refreshingly complex vision of urban life through three illusionists who have little option but to confront reality.

  • Second Prize 1999
    Three Women and a Camera
    Year 1998  
    Length 56'  
    Directed by
    Sabeena Godihoke
    Language
    English

    The film debates the major shifts in the concerns of photographer Homai Vyarawalla, whose work celebrates the euphoria and optimism of the birth of the India nation, while Chhachhi and Singh attempt to grapple with the various complexities and undelivered promises of the post independence era..

  • Two Thick Braids
    Year 1999  
    Length 4'  
    Directed by
    Swati Khurana
    Language
    English

    Two tick Braids is an experimental video that uses a montage of animation, spoken word and aging photographs to convey memories that are imagined and partially remembered. By looking at hair and photographs, the filmmaker tries to imagine how a nineteen and twenty-year-old love each other.

  • Voices of Dissent: A Dance of Passion
    Year 1999  
    Length 22'  
    Directed by
    Nookhan S. Bawa
    Language
    English,Urdu

    The film takes viewers on a journey through the gates of a Sufi shrine into the world of temple dancing. It explores the passion of the dance within a number of contemporary Pakistani contexts and the personalities that pursue it.

  • YCP 1997
    Year 1997  
    Length 43'  
    Directed by
    Anjali Montiero,KP Jayasankar
    Language
    English,Hindi,Marathi

    Through the poems and musings, the film explores the modes in which six poets and artists of the Yerwada Central Prison creatively cope with the pain and stigma of incarceration, in the process questioning their selfhood and the socially constructed divides between us and them, between the normal and the deviant.