Another movie

06Jun07

“Caste”

One Billion Eyes, the annual Indian documentary film festival organised by the Prakriti Foundation, Chennai, is in its third year. This year’s theme is Caste. The theme for 2005 was ‘Arts, Activism, Animals’, and for 2006 it was ‘Our Cities: the Real and the Imagined’.

In India, caste consumes everyone. From the brahmin priests of the Chidambaram temple who continue to practice child marriage, to McDonalds substituting panneer for beef in their Indian burgers, to the dalits of Khairlanje who get lynched for asserting their humanity. But such has been the conditioning of mainstream, contemporary, urban sensibilities that to talk caste has meant to talk of reservation, dalits, OBCs, government/sarkari brahmins, atrocities against dalits, Mandal, Mayawati, gurjjars, meritocracy, state policy. Suddenly, it appears that caste is not a system of domination, discrimination and exploitation, but just a classificatory category. It appears as if brahmins, kayasths, banias and other privileged castes do not have anything to do with caste. It appears that matrimonial advertisements that demand a ‘wheatish complexion Iyer Vadama non-Koundinya gotra 25–28 girl’ for a caste-compatible IIT-IIM–educated brahmin based in Connecticut, or ads that explicitly seek to rent houses ‘only for vegetarians’ do not encode caste. In fact, the anti-reservation brigade recently managed to project itself in the media as anti-caste. Does the world of documentary films in India exhibit similar anxieties and stereotypes? While so many films get made about dalits and around dalit themes, do dalits get to make their/our films? What is the existing filmic discourse on caste? Have makers of short films sought to rethink caste?

This festival—juxtaposing screenings with literary readings, panel discussions and interventions from the audience—will seek to broaden the contours of the discourse on caste. Besides filmmakers and their films, it will feature poets, activists, students, victims, agent provocateurs, academicians, and of course a panel of judicious and judgmental but jolly judges who will decide on the best film for a prize of Rs 25,000.

Key Dates:
Last date for entries: 15 July 2007
Festival dates: 15–20 August 2007
Selected list of films and detailed programme list will be circulated by 25 July.
Preferred entry format: DVDs/ VCDs

For further details contact abillioneyes@gmail.com



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