Three documentaries with Indian themes showcased in World Cinema

Three documentaries done by film makers from different parts of the world made in different languages showcased in the World Cinema in IFFI 2012 have one common thread viz India. German Director Walter Steffen’s ‘Munich in India’ is about painter Hannez Fritz also known as Fritz Munich and his paintings in India. The Bengali documentary ‘The Revolutionary Optimists’ directed by Nicole Newnham and Maren R Monsen is about the journey of three children in Kolkata slum from childhood to adolescence. The Canadian film maker Nisha Pahuja’s ‘The World Before Her’ juxtaposes traditional and modern women in contemporary India.

Interacting with media today in Goa Walter Steffen said that he was attracted to the story of Fritz Munich who quit a safe job in 1930s to become an artist and his journey as a painter in India during unsafe times. While exploring the adventurous side of the protagonist in his film he was able to see the other side of India, which was not actually a dreamland that he had heard as a child from his grandparents, he added. Answering a query he said that the film has relevance in this day since it shows how following personal ambition is more important than pursuing material gains.

Co-Director of ‘The Revolutionary Optimists’ Nicole stated that the film reflects the strength and positivity of the children and people and it was not meant to be voyeuristic about poverty in India, but to show how the Indian traditions and culture strengthens and empowers the people to face the challenges of ordinary life. Filmed over the course of three years ‘The Revolutionary Optimists’ follows Amlan Ganguly and three of the children he works with in Kolkata as they challenge the idea that marginalization is written in to their destiny.

Talking about ‘The World Before Her’ Director Nisha stated that the film explores the tension between traditional and modern perspectives toward women by following the journey of young and ambitious women participating in beauty pageants and women joining Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Hindu fundamentalist movement.

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