The 2015 Made In India program will highlight the remarkable work and incredible cinematic legacy from the Indian documentary community.
Each year the Made In program celebrates a country or region’s contribution to documentary, offering revealing glimpses into the social, political, economic and cultural issues facing those societies.
Learn about the deep connection between the English language and the cultural and political history of the Indian sub-continent.
There is a deep connection between the English language and the cultural and political history of the Indian sub-continent. Brought to the country by colonizers, then adopted by the Indian elite, English has become a language of power in India. In a country with more than 30 regional languages, English is one of two that has been designated “official.” This remnant of their contentious colonial past is the starting point for Spandan Banerjee’s modern exploration of what English means to India. The film takes us from the history of languages in the country to
modern-day tourist towns where hopeful young tour guides discuss their language skills and their concerns of being made redundant by a new generation of electronic tools. A uniquely colourful and kaleidoscopic approach to history, English India looks at a country coming to terms with its own identity as it shakes off the weight of its colonial past.
The Superstars of Koti
Koti Kanasar is a mountain village in the Indian Himalayas whose inhabitants believe in possession by deities.
Koti Kanasar is a mountain village in the Indian Himalayas whose inhabitants believe in possession by deities. The Superstars of Koti follows three boys from different castes who become connected through the deity they will possibly be possessed by one day. Devdass is in a lower caste and plays the drums to serve the deity; in return, the village feeds and shelters his family. Kuldeep is part of a higher caste whose family maintains the temple and only spends time in the village during the summer, so he has many outside influences affecting his opinions about the village’s beliefs. Giri works in a guesthouse and longs for acknowledgement, dreaming that one day he will become known for being possessed. Through the eyes of these children, we experience how they come to terms with their connections to the deities, their identities and each other.
Small Things, Big Things
In the small village of Silvepura, India, the alternative Sita School teaches children through emotion, creativity and social interaction.
In the small village of Silvepura, India, the alternative Sita School teaches children through emotion, creativity and social interaction. Opened in 1975 with an ambition to alleviate low attendance in the area, the school is a space where children can start at any time and learn through their surroundings. Director Saumyananda Sahi—who himself went to Sita School until he was 11 years old—gently observes the activities of the students and teachers for one year. As they express their experiences and memories—whether through puppet theatre or a time capsule buried for the future—the children’s personalities shine through as they interact daily with their peers and teachers. Small Things, Big Things is a diaristic love letter to the benefits of a school that listens to what childhood can be.
A Sinner in Mecca
Parvez Sharma embarks on a perilous pilgrimage to Mecca.
Openly gay and a devout Muslim, Parvez Sharma embarks on a perilous pilgrimage to Mecca hoping to find an answer to this most personal question: is it possible for someone like him to be a good Muslim? Director of 2007’s A Jihad for Love, which documents the lives of LGBT Muslims, Sharma turns the camera on himself in this latest film. A journey full of dangers—homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment, fines and even death—A Sinner in Mecca is not only a fascinating personal essay on a gay Muslim’s inner-most struggles, but a captivating portrait of contemporary Islam. “As an adult, my relationship to conventional Islam has never been easy,” Sharma says in the film. “Islam is at war with itself and I have fought hard to not be a casualty.”
With an acceptance rate of just 0.1%, India’s most prestigious medical school is much more competitive than any Ivy League university.
With an acceptance rate of just 0.1%, India’s most prestigious medical school is much more competitive than any Ivy League university. But for these students, getting in is the easy part. Questionable administrative policies, isolation, hazing and intense academic pressure can send students into a downward spiral that all too often ends up in tragedy. When a student at the school nearly loses his arm after punching through a glass window in an unexplained act of violence, the filmmaker decides to immerse himself in a year-long exploration of life inside campus. The result? A truly surreal portrait that taps directly into a state of mind. In this case, it’s a state of collective madness—a spell that is only broken when another student succumbs to the academic pressure and does the unthinkable…
Journey with Prabhat
When you think of the origins of film, India is not usually the country that comes to mind; but one institute there played an integral role in cinema’s beginnings.
When you think of the origins of film, India is not usually the country that comes to mind. But one institute there played an integral role in cinema’s beginnings. When five workers from the Maharashtra Film Company left to create their own independent studio in 1929, the Prabhat Film Company was formed. With state-of-the-art facilities and pioneers of the Indian film scene at the helm, the studio spent more than two decades producing masterpieces of the early talkie era. Folding under tough times, the company shut down in 1953—only to reopen its doors as the Film Institute of India in 1961. Grounded in rich history, the institute now trains the next generation of film greats. Mixing archival photos, film clips and personal testimonies from industry veterans, Journey with Prabhat is a tender ode to the art of cinema, proving India’s roots run deeper than Bollywood.