Documentaries do not always have to be didactic, says Farida Pacha | india | Hindustan Times
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Documentaries do not always have to be didactic, says Farida Pacha

Farida Pacha is not one who believes in making didactic movies. The director whose recent documentary My Name Is Salt won the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in First Appearance category told HT that she would rather prefer films to be observational than them being preachy.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2014 17:14 IST
Sweta Kaushal
farida pacha
In-the-past-Farida-Pacha-s-documentary-The-Seedkeepers-won-the-2006-Indian-National-Film-Award-Photo-Sweta-Kaushal-HT

Documentary filmmaker Farida Pacha is not one who believes in making didactic movies.

The director whose recent documentary My Name Is Salt won the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in First Appearance category recently, told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat that she would rather prefer films to be observational than them being preachy.

"A documentary does not have to dictate what I should do and what I shouldn't. I believe that if a film is able to put across the cause in such an effective manner that watching it makes me change and makes me more sensitive towards an issue, it has met the objective," Pacha said.

My Name Is Salt also won awards at Hong Kong, Edinburgh, Madrid and the German Camera Award 2014 for Best Cinematography in a documentary film. The documentary traces the lives of 'salt farmers'- people who make salt in the Rann of Kutch. The documentary highlights the lack of modern day basic amenities like electricity and drinking water and the inhabitants' dedication towards their work despite the fact that they get a measly payment from the traders who in turn make a huge amount of money. My Name Is Salt was screened at the ongoing International Film Festival in Goa on November 27.

Talking about the film, Farida added, "My Name Is Salt isn't just about salt making. Through the film, I have tried to outline the philosophy of taking pleasure in one's work. The salt farmers, for example, have a monotonous job which they do for very small amount of money. But they are not tired of the monotony. I think that's what is inspiring, something all of us can learn- the need to enjoy what you are doing instead of just carrying it out for the sake of responsibility or money."

Earlier, talking at a press conference at IFFI, Pacha said that though the finance scene for documentary filmmakers isn't good in India, there are still a few solutions like crowd funding that can help people who want to make documentaries. "The state funding has been shrinking worldwide and that is why the film maker has to go in for crowd funding. I too had to go for crowd funding. This is a practice particularly in developed countries in which general public comes forward to fund the film projects", she said.

When asked the reason behind the lack of narration in her films, Farida said, "I tried to keep my film free from any pre-conceived notions and by virtue of this freedom there was ample space for it being an art film. "

"The 40,000 salt worker families in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat don't get a substantial remuneration for their produce although they put hard labour to it for 8 months to get a harvest. They don't get the remunerative prices because they are not organized. But this is not the theme of the feature length of my documentary. It's more an art film that goes without narration or interviews, and moves mainly through cinematic experience," she added.

Born in 1972 in Mumbai, Pacha did her MFA in film making at Southern Illinois University, USA. She has made several experimental, educational and documentary films. Her documentary The Seedkeepers won the 2006 Indian National Film Award. The Seedkeepers is based on the life of Dalit farmers of Andhra Pradesh.

My name is salt is Farida's first feature length documentary, which won her among many others, the First Appearance Award at IDFA 2013, Amsterdam. Farida lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland.