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Kolkata People’s Film Festival is all about that one voice of protest

As many as 28 such ‘protest films’, including documentary and independent fiction, will be screened in Kolkata over four days, starting January 18, during the fifth edition of Kolkata People’s Film Festival, where entry is free.

world cinema Updated: Jan 17, 2018 19:05 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
A still from I AM Hadiya.
A still from I AM Hadiya.

I Am Hadia, a 2017 documentary, captures the turns of events in the life of the 25-year-old woman whose conversion to Islam became a subject of nation-wide debate. Koi Chand Bhi Nahi, another 2017 documentary, ‘bears witness to the gross neglect of environmental and human rights by the so-called ‘development’ sponsored by the state in Chattisgarh’. This or That Particular Person, a 2012-documentary, ‘looks at what identity documents means to people and how the Aadhaar project is perceived…through the lens of the UID.’

As many as 28 such ‘protest films’, including documentary and independent fiction, will be screened in Kolkata over four days, starting January 18, during the fifth edition of Kolkata People’s Film Festival, where entry is free.

“Ours is a non-sponsored, people-funded, independently organised cinema festival, showcasing politically conscious contemporary documentary and fiction cinema from India and the subcontinent,” said Kasturi Basu of People’s Film Collective, the organiser of the festival.

“The intention is to raise the level of awareness among people on social and political issues,” she added.

Over the past few years, its venue, Jogesh Mime Academy, has witnessed houseful sessions.

A donation box is kept at the venue for people to contribute whatever they could.

“The group screens films for children in the districts in tents throughout the year. Every month they screen productions by independent filmmakers in Kolkata,” said human rights activist Ranjit Sur, who will be speaking at a session.

This year, six documentaries will be premiered at the festival. They include one on Chhattisgarh’s trade union leader Shankar Guha Neogy, who was killed in 1991. Titled One Death: A Few Arguments, shooting for the film started 25 years ago and remained unfinished until the directors decided to resume work about four years ago.

Other films to be premiered include one titled S.D., a documentary on top Naxalite leader Saroj Dutta who remained ‘missing’ in police records since 1971, one titled Hey Samhalo that chronicles the protest in Bengal’s Bhangar against a power grid project and another is titled Running Hawkers, which deals with the lives of railway hawkers.

Nuclear Hallucinations is centered on the anti-nuclear struggle against the Kudankulam Atomic Power Project, while the documentary titled Machines chronicles the lives of workers at a major textile factory in Gujarat.

Most of the members of the organising outfit were or are active in Left wing politics. The selection of films indicates their anti-saffron inclination.

The Men in the Tree, a 2002-documentary, has been described as ‘a political documentary on the RSS and Hindu fundamentalism’. Turup (checkmate), a 2017 independent fiction, ‘looks at the contemporary issues of caste, class, gender and growing right wing vigilantism prevalent in the country today.’

A documentary on Manipuri theatre couple Kanhailal and Sabitri Heisnam, titled Theatre of the Earth has been described as a special attraction.