FSA 2003

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Kathmandu, 28 September, 2003 – Film Southasia ’03, the fourth edition of the festival of Southasian non-fiction films, ended here today, with a film on human atrocities on elephants by an Indian filmmaker bagging the Ram Bahadur Trophy for Best Film. “An outstanding and original film, enabling the viewer to believe the elephants themselves are speaking,” read the jury citation for The 18th Elephant – 3 Monologues directed by P. Balan from Kerela, India.

This is the first time that a South Indian film has won an award at the festival. Tale of the Darkest Night, a film about the attack by Pakistan army on Dhaka University in 1971, directed by Kawsar Chawdhary, won the Second Best Film Award and Sand and Water by Berlin-based Bangladeshi filmmaker Shaheen Dill-Riaz about life among the Jamuna won the Third Best Film Award.

Tale of the Darkest Night was the “most dramatic film of the festival”, according to the three-member jury headed by Sir Mark Tully. The other members of the jury were Lubna Marium, a classical dancer from Dhaka and Lalsawmliani Tochhawng, an organiser of film festivals from Delhi.

Sand and Water won the award for evoking the “courage and cheerfulness of a poor community living under extreme adversity”. The Grand Jury Award went to The Fire Within directed by Shriprakash Prakash from Ranchi, India and the Special Mention to Bhedako Oon Jasto … In Search for a Song directed by Kiran Krishna Shrestha from Kathmandu.

The three best films received citations and cash awards of US$ 2,000, US$1,000 and US$ 500.

The closing film, Bhedako Oon Jasto … In Search for a Song was shown to an appreciative full-house at Jai Nepal Cinema, the premier commercial film theatre in Kathmandu. The other 42 films of the festival, which ran from 25 to 28 September, 2003 were screened in two halls at the Russian Cultural Centre.

Of the 43 films screened 27 were represented by their director or the producer who presented the film and took answers from the audience. Filmmakers had flown in from all over Southasia as well as North America.

As with past editions of the festival, 12 to 15 of the best films will be part of Travelling Film Southasia which will travel all over Southasia and the rest of the world to popularise the documentary and showcase the best in Southasian non-fiction filmmaking.

Jury Citation

We, the jury, have had great fun viewing and discussing the films in the festival and we would like to congratulate all those who have entered their work. We have learnt a great deal and are sure the films will instruct and entertain audiences wherever they are shown. We would, however, like to make a few points. Many films are about important issues, but some often rely too much on talking heads and so lacked visual impact. There are some films which need a stronger and more consistent narrative to ensure that the viewer does not get lost.
Producers also need to give real thought to the length of the films they make. It needs a very strong documentary to hold an audience for an hour or more. Some of the longer films, we felt, would have run better at half their length. But we appreciate all the care, effort and expense that has gone into these films and so we hope these remarks will not discourage any producer. Read more…

  • A Kind of Childhood
    Year 2002  
    Length 50'  
    Directed by
    Tareque Masud,Catherine Masud
    Language
    English,Bengali

    Idris lost his first job at the age of nine. After the US Congress moved to protect children’s rights by banning imports of garments produced by children, Idris and tens of thousands of other children were forced onto the street. For six long years Idris struggled to stay to school, while harsh economic realities kept pushing him back

  • A Night of Prophecy
    Year 2002  
    Length 77'  
    Directed by
    Amar Kanwar
    Language
    Multiple

    Through poetry emerges the possibility of understanding the past, the severity of conflict and the cycles of change. The film travels in the states of Maharashta, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, and Kashmir. Through poetry you see where all the territories are heading towards, where you belong, and where to intervene, if you want to.

  • Aabar Ashibo Phire (Way Back Home)
    Year 2003  
    Length 120'  
    Directed by
    Supriyo Sen
    Language
    Bengali

    More than 50 years after the Partition of India in which a million people were killed in riots and five million became refugees, Supriyo Sen follows his parents on a poignant journey back to their lost homeland in Bangladesh. Shot clandestinely and censored by the film certification board of India, this is a poignant film is about the journey, individual and collective memories, and historical consciousness.

  • Aap Hamare Hain Kaun
    Year 2002  
    Length 7'  
    Directed by
    Madhusree Dutta
    Language
    Hindi

    Gandhi, MG, Mahatma, Bapu. MK Gandhi is a complex legacy—the protagonist of films, a favourite in the visual arts, patron saint of Indian artery roads, and figurehead on postage stamps. But who is he? What is India’s relationship with him?...

  • Aftershocks: The Rough Guide to Democracy
    Year 2002  
    Length 64'  
    Directed by
    Rakesh Sharma
    Language
    Hindi,Kutchi,Gujarati

    Aftershocks is a “study from below” of the globalising economy, and the corporatisation of democracy. Closely examining the acquisition of two earthquake-affected villages for lignite mining and power generation, and the displacement of their residents, it tracks the transformation of the welfare state into an instrument of corporate governance.

  • Special Mention 2003
    Bheda Ko Oon Jasto...In Search of a Song
    Year 2003  
    Length 57'  
    Directed by
    Kiran Krishna Shrestha
    Language
    Nepali

    Narayan Wagle is one of Nepal’s best-known journalists. But for eight years he would sing a folk song he’d heard in the highlands north of Kathmandu, Bhedako Oon Jasto, to his friends, to strangers, to singers and musicians. No one knew it...

  • Grand Jury Prize 2003
    Buru Sengal - The Fire Within
    Year 2002  
    Length 57'  
    Directed by
    Shri Prakash
    Language
    Hindi,Santhali

    This documentary is a portrait of a painful transformation. The land of the Tana Bhagats, a peaceful sect of the Oraon tribe who follow a Gandhian lifestyle and philosophy, is today beseiged by Naxalite violence.

  • Diverted to Delhi
    Year 2002  
    Length 55'  
    Directed by
    Greg Stitt
    Language
    English

    When unsuspecting American or Australian consumers ring customer service, their calls are often re-routed to India, and answered by Indians impersonating local telephone operators. This well-guarded secret, called outsourcing, has its comical side, but critics see more sinister implications...

  • Ethrayum Yathra Bhagam (The Journey So Far)
    Year 2003  
    Length 45'  
    Directed by
    C.V. Sathyan
    Language
    Malyalam

    This documentary is about A. Ayyappan, a well-known poet who works in Malayalam. Alcohol and love are his two life-long obsessions. This documentary on Ayyappan’s life and work is filled with musings on his comrades, travels, college years, and his eccentricities, sharp political insights, humorous chit-chat, and renditions of his rousing poetry.

  • Godhra Tak - Terror Trail
    Year 2003  
    Length 60'  
    Directed by
    Shubhradeep Chakravorty
    Language
    English

    Godhra Tak: The Terror Trail investigates the Godhra train burning and subsequent rioting that killed 3,500 Muslims in Gujarat, India. Chakravorty retraces the route of the first batch of karsevaks from Gujarat to Ayodhya and back, and documents the terror they unleashed en route, and the incident at Godhra railway station.

  • Hunting Down Water
    Year 2003  
    Length 32'  
    Directed by
    Sanjay Barnela,Vashant Saberwal
    Language
    English

    India's present water crisis is of its own making. The patterns of water use are changing, with increased cultivation of water-intensive cash crops. But there are other changes that defy logic, such as the growing number of private swimming pools in cities, rain dances and water amusement parks.

  • In Search of Zhang Zhung
    Year 2003  
    Length 60'  
    Directed by
    Alex Gabbay
    Language
    English

    Gelek, a Bön monk, accompanied by an American photographer and dhamis, or oracles and shaman priests, undertakes a journey from Kathmandu to discover for himself the ancient kingdom of Zhang Zhung where Bön flourished centuries ago. Travelling through the stark, beautiful landscapes of Nepal and Tibet, the places and people the group encounters shed light on Bön

  • Itihaas Jitne Harru Ko Laagi (History for Winners)
    Year 2003  
    Length 67'  
    Directed by
    Pranay Limbu
    Language
    Nepali

    An award-winning singer makes a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to make a comeback after being in musical hibernation for seven years. Itihaas Jitneharuka Laagi portrays the changes in the Nepali music scene, as represented by Kuber Rai and Dheeraj Rai. The two singers are a study in contrasts, with their diametrically opposing personalities and attitude towards music.

  • Jab'r Ki Shadi, Jab'r Ki Shadi-Vilayat Mein
    Year 2003  
    Length 21'  
    Directed by
    Beena Sarwar
    Language
    English,Urdu

    What happens when religious values are subverted and parents force their children into marriage against their will? Some 250 forced are reported every year in the UK, many involving immigrants from South Asia, and this phenomenon is feeding further into anti-immigration measures.

  • Jang aur Aman (Wat and Peace)
    Year 2002  
    Length 138'  
    Directed by
    Anand Patwardhan
    Language
    English,Marathi,Hindi,Japanese

    Filmed over three tumultuous years in India, Pakistan, Japan and the USA, War and Peace is a documentary journey of peace activism in the face of global militarism and war. Triggered by the macabre scenes of jubilation that greeted nuclear testing in the Indian subcontinent, the film is dramatically framed by the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Kathmandu Odyssey
    Year 2003  
    Length 36  
    Directed by
    Shekhar Kharel
    Language
    Nepali

    Kathmandu Odyssey is the story of a buffalo rider-turned-professor. At its simplest, the film explores the relation between a poet and a place. Professor Abhi Subedi sees Kathmandu in many dimensions....

  • Looking for Kannan
    Year 2002  
    Length 23'  
    Directed by
    Yasir Khan
    Language
    English,Tamil

    Yasir Khan first met Kannan in the year 2000. The 15 year-old had just surrendered to the Sri Lankan army. The army promised to rehabilitate him and release him into society. Looking for Kannan is about Khan’s trip back two years later in search of the former Tamil Tiger child soldier, to see if the army had kept its promise.

  • Majma
    Year 2001  
    Length 54'  
    Directed by
    Rahul Roy
    Language
    Hindi

    Aslam sells medicines for sexual problems on the pavements of Meena Bazaar near Jama Masjid in Delhi. Khalifa Barkat presides over an akhara, or wrestling gym, in the adjacent park and puts a group of young men through the moral and physical grind of wrestling.

  • Manjuben Truckdriver (Miss Manju Truckdriver)
    Year 2002  
    Length 52'  
    Directed by
    Sherna Dastur
    Language
    Hindi,Gujarati

    Manjuben has broken the stereotypes that are part of the social landscape she lives in. She has created an identity for herself against social, cultural and economic norms, and still commands respect from her peers. This identity is deliberately ‘male’, that of a macho trucker, drawn from several popular notions of maleness.

  • MAT (The Vote)
    Year 2003  
    Length 60'  
    Directed by
    Pankaj Rishi Kumar
    Language
    Hindi

    Mat is a deconstruction of the election process. It closely examines the interests and issues that guide the performance of different players—political parties, candidates, party workers and voters—in one particular competition for power. Kumar documents the nitty-gritty of elections in Siyana, Uttar Pradesh, India, an assembly constituency..

  • Naata (The Bond)
    Year 2003  
    Length 45'  
    Directed by
    Dr. Anjali Monteiro
    Language
    English,Hindi

    Naata is about Bhau Korde and Waqar Khan, two friends who work on conflict resolution and communal amity initiatives between the different communities in Dharavi, reputedly, the largest 'slum' in Asia. In contexualising their work, Naata also looks critically at the popular perception in India of Dharavi...

  • No.556,13th Lane, Kamathipura, Mumbai
    Year 2002  
    Length 17'  
    Directed by
    Sushmita Basnet
    Language
    Hindi

    This documentary is based on a real-life rescue operation. On the night of 14 over 15 August 2001, the Rescue Foundation (formerly known as Maiti Nepal Mumbai) conducted a raid on brothel No 556, 13th Lane, Kamathipura, Mumbai, based on information given by a costumer.

  • Papa 2
    Year 2002  
    Length 24'  
    Directed by
    Gopal Menon
    Language
    English,Kashmiri,Urdu

    PAPA 2 was a notorious interrogation centre run by the Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir till 1996. Officially, over 2,000—unofficially, over 8,000—people have disappeared from the Kashmir Valley over the past 15 years. Most are forced disappearances.

  • Qabool Kuran Dhathi Hageegaiy (Unbelievable Realities)
    Year 2002  
    Length 25'  
    Directed by
    Ahmed Nazmi
    Language
    Maldivian

    Qabool Kuran Dhathi Hageegaiy looks at violence against women in the Maldives from the point of view of the victim as well as that of the perpetrator, and brings to the problem psychological, sociological and legal perspectives.

  • Resilient Rhythms
    Year 2002  
    Length 64'  
    Directed by
    Gopal Menon
    Language
    Hindi,Tamil,Kannada,Bhojpuri,Telugu

    India’s caste system places nearly 160 million people, the dalits, at the outskirts of society. It exploits their services, especially to perform “polluting” tasks, such as cutting the umbilical cord, disposing of night-soil, tending cremation grounds, but at the same time denies them acceptance as human beings.

  • Restless Shores
    Year 2003  
    Length 20'  
    Directed by
    Noel Rajesh
    Language
    Tamil

    The fishing community of Overi in south-eastern India is facing increased competition from large scale mechanised trawler boats that ply the rich coastal fishing grounds looking for high-value prawns and commercial fish species for export. Restless Shores explores the reactions of the local community to this export-oriented development

  • Third Prize 2003
    Sand and Water
    Year 2002  
    Length 105'  
    Directed by
    Shaheen Dill-Riaz
    Language
    Begnali

    The middle section of the Jamuna, one of the three main rivers in Bangladesh, is called “the deadly paradise”. This part of northern Bangladesh is the home of the Gabshara Union, a small district comprising a group of tiny islands. Sand and Water shows how the people of these islands live in the most extreme natural conditions and cope with the “moods” of Jamuna...

  • Searching for Saraswati
    Year 2003  
    Length 62'  
    Directed by
    Sudheer Gupta
    Language
    English,Hindi

    Searching for Saraswati was shot during the 40 days of the 2001 Mahakumbha festival in Allahabad, India, on the banks of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. The film is the culmination of years of research into the history and folklore of the Kumbha festival

  • Second Prize 2003
    Shei Rater Kotha Bolte Eshechi (Tale of the Darkest Night)
    Year 2001  
    Length 43'  
    Directed by
    Kawsar Chowdhury
    Language
    Bangla

    Tale of the Darkest Night tells the story of the killings by the Pakistani army in Dhaka University. Surviving members and witnesses speak, and bring alive the havoc of that night. The documentary also includes the wireless messages the Pakistani army exchanged that night...

  • Sita's Family
    Year 2003  
    Length 60'  
    Directed by
    Saba Dewan
    Language
    English,Hindi,Punjabi

    ita’s Family explores memories and the ways in which they are transmitted from mothers to daughters. Manorama, a journalist and grandmother, takes time off to revisit her maternal home in Punjab. She sifts through the fragmented memories of her deceased mother, Sita Devi, a prominent freedom fighter...

  • Swara (A Bridge Over Troubled Water)
    Year 2003  
    Length 40'  
    Directed by
    Samar Minallah
    Language
    Pashtu

    Swara examines and comments on the Pakhtun practice of giving minor girls in marriage as reparation for serious crimes such as murder committed by their fathers, brother, or uncles.

  • Tell Them the Tree They Had Planted Has Now Grown
    Year 2002  
    Length 58'  
    Directed by
    Ajay Raina
    Language
    English,Kashmiri,Urdu

    In Tell Them the Tree They Have Planted Has Now Grown, Raina, a Kashmiri Brahmin, goes 'home' after 13 years. The film is a cinematic diary of a man uncovering the scars on his lost homeland.

  • Terror's Children
    Year 2003  
    Length 45'  
    Directed by
    Sharmeen Obaid
    Language
    45'

    Terror’s Children is a personal journey that Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid undertook. For ten weeks in the summer of 2002, she followed the lives of eight Afghan refugee children in the city of Karachi.

  • First Prize 2003
    The 18th Elephant...3 Monologues
    Year 2003  
    Length 62'  
    Directed by
    P. Balan
    Language
    Malayalam

    Men and money. This film is a powerful critique of modern man’s mercenary attitude towards nature and his anthropocentric conception of development. The sad plight of the elephant in both its wild and domesticated states exposes clearly how such behaviour brings death and wreaks havoc...

  • The Men in the Tree
    Year 2002  
    Length 98'  
    Directed by
    Lalit Vachani
    Language
    English,Marathi,Hindi,Sanskrit

    On one level, The Men in the Tree is a documentary in which a filmmaker returns to the issues, locations and subjects of an earlier film, The Boy in the Branch. On another level, it is a political documentary on the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the RSS, the foremost Hindu fundamentalist organisation in India.

  • The Race
    Year 2003  
    Length 16'  
    Directed by
    Raaghav Dar
    Language
    English,Hindi

    The Race is about the urbanisation of villages in India. In the village of Bhonsari, the annual bull race is once again on. But the bulls now race in alien surroundings where DJs and jets are more common than sugarcane fields. The race acts as the backdrop and a metaphor for the process of urbanisation of a village as described by Suresh, a common man without land...

  • The Story Tellers
    Year 2003  
    Length 46'  
    Directed by
    Gargi Sen
    Language
    English,Hindi

    The Story Tellers is an intimate journey into the fictional spaces and silences created by Katha, an Indian not-for-profit organisation that works to promote literacy as well as literature. Katha’s publications for children are some of the best that have been produced in India.

  • The Unconscious
    Year 2003  
    Length 19'  
    Directed by
    Manisha Dwivedi
    Language
    Hindi

    This film is a journey with men who call themselves kothi. They are men for their families and society, but for themselves they are women, and wives of other “macho” men. They lead a dual life and a few are commercial sex workers.

  • Ujan Beye (Across The Tide)
    Year 2002  
    Length 58'  
    Directed by
    Nirmalya Bondopadhyay
    Language
    Begnali

    There have always been people in every society who have dedicated their lives to bring about positive change. They have worked to fight injustice and inequality, and protect society from the repression of states. The mass killing—an instance of state terrorism—in Baranagar...

  • Vikas Bandook Ki Naal Se
    Year 2003  
    Length 54'  
    Directed by
    Biju Toppo,Meghnath
    Language
    Hindi

    Vikas Bandook Ki Naal Se gives voice to people affected by development projects—and repressed by the state for speaking out—in Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. The film asks why most of these incidents have taken place in areas where indigenous Adivasi people are majorities...

  • Where Do I Go From Here?
    Year 2002  
    Length 45'  
    Directed by
    Yasmin Kidwai
    Language
    English

    Where Do I Go From Here? tries, at bottom, to explore the distinction for older people between independence and isolation. The film deals specifically with ageing in India, as seen through the eyes of the elderly, raises several questions about their solitary state, and gives us glimpses of their cheerless lives.

  • Words on Water
    Year 2002  
    Length 85'  
    Directed by
    Sanjay Kak
    Language
    English,Hindi,Gujarati

    For more than 15 years, the people of the Narmada Valley in central India have been resisting the construction of a series of massive dams on their river. In a world where violence has become the arbiter of political debate, Words on Water is about a sustained non-violent resistance...

 

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