Kandhamal Day – Film Festival on Justice, Peace and Harmony

Film Fest

Human beings have suppressed, oppressed, mutilated, humiliated and neglected their own fellow human beings due to many reasons throughout history. There are economic, cultural, social and political reason for such human rights violations. One of the reasons for such human rights violations in India is on the basis of identity. People have been killed, abused, lynched, molested, raped and burnt. The victims and survivors of these identities like Dalits, adivasis, fisherfolk, women, religious minorities, marginalised nationalities, sexuality minorities and many other marginased sections are still struggling in India. The human rights violations on the people of Kandhamal took place within this context.

The 13th Anniversary of the Kandhamal Day is on August 25, 2021. Major attacks on Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians took place in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2007 and 2008. Over 360 churches and worship places were attacked, 5600 houses were destroyed, over 100 people were killed, over 40 women were raped, molested or abused, thousands were displaced and the education of over 12,000 children was disrupted. The victims and survivors have not yet received justice.

In this context, over seventy groups came together to raise the issues for justice for the rights of Kandhamal victims and survivors, under the banner of National Solidarity Forum. Many actions have taken place locally, nationally and internationally through this effort for more than 12 years. This film festival which is being organised during the 13th Anniversary of Kandhamal Day is to remind us that no marginalised identity can fight this battle alone and there must be a unity among all marginalised identities in India. Hence, the National Solidarity Forum is organising a film festival for 48 hours from 24th 6am to 26th 6am, August 2021.  The films can be watched from the following link:

There will be a discussion with the film makers on 24th at 5 pm. The Film Festival is being curated by Amudhan RP.

We request your participation and appeal to you to spread the word among your circle of friends and groups.

 Details of the Films :

1) I am Bonnie

Dir: Farha Katun, Satarupa Santra, Saurabh Kanti Dutta; 45 min; Bengali with English subtitles; Documentary; India

Bonnie (33) is again on the run. He has been on the run from his family and sports fraternity since failing ‘sex test’ before the Bangkok Asian Games, 1998.

2) We Have Not Come Here to Die

Dir : Deepa Dhanraj; 100 min; English subtitles, Docmentary; India.

On January 17th 2016 a Dalit, Phd research scholar, and activist Rohith Vemula unable to bear the persecution from a partisan University administration and dominant caste Hindu supremacists hung himself in one of the most prestigious universities in India. His suicide note, which argued against the “value of a man being reduced to his immediate identity” galvanized student politics in India.

Over the last year thousands of students all over the country have broken the silence around their experiences of caste discrimination in Universities and have started a powerful anti-caste movement. The film attempts to track this historic movement that is changing the conversation on caste in India.

3) A Foreigner in My Home Land

Dir: Nishajyothi Sharma; 55 min

Nepalis (Gorkhas) of Assam are not foreigners or outsiders, except for a few who may have migrated to Assam (India) post 1971. However, the prevalent sentiment among the Assamese masses is quite contrary to what history says and the Assam Accord of 1985 has agreed to.

Through this self-reflexive film, the filmmaker (who herself is an Asameli Nepali/Gorkha) explores the notion of identity of the community in Assam.

4) Scratches on Stone

Dir: Amit Mahanti; 62 min; Ao, Chen, Nagamese, English; 2018

Zubeni grew up in the 1980s-90s in the midst of a 50-year war for Naga independence. She says its traces still exist today – in her memories, in the photographs she takes, in herself. Elsewhere in Nagaland, 98-year old Cheno Khuzuthrupa remembers the war through a wooden engraving outside his house, while Shoupa and Zubeni talk about an Austrian ethnologist’s photography in the area in the 1930s. Meanwhile, Zubeni’s niece, Hannah will turn 3 in a few months, and Zubeni has been wondering how to capture her image.

In Nagaland, the past lingers on, framed through photographs, casting shadows over the present.‘Scratches on Stone’ is an exploration of the textures and residue of violence in Nagaland – through Zubeni’s personal experiences; through people and images that remind us of the political violence that the place has been through; and the legacy of the anthropological photographic tradition that has always foregrounded the idea of ‘violence’ among the Naga people.

5) The Battle of Bhima Koregaon – an unending journey

Dir: Somnath Waghmare; 49 min; Marathi, Hindi with Eng subtitles; 2016

History speaks about great wars fought, brave warriors and clever kings and emperors. What history doesn’t do is justice to the wars, warriors and leaders of the oppressed. This documentary is about the 500 Mahar soldiers (the untouchables) who offered to fight alongside their countrymen, against the colonisers. Rejected by the ruling class they joined forces with the colonisers and fought in the ‘Bhima Koregaon Battle’, defeating the Brahminical rule of the Peshwas. Just as history did, so do the media and ruling class today conveniently forget to acknowledge them.

On the 1st of January, every year, 20 lakh (2 million) people gather at Bhima-Koregaon, Pune, Maharashtra to commemorate that battle. No national or local media covers the largest annual gathering in the region. The documentary captures the history of Bhima Koregaon and its relevance to contemporary Dalit issues and politics in the country. It tells the history of the Bahujans through the coverage of the events of this gathering.

6) The Color of My Home

Dir : Sanjay Barnela & Farah Naqvi; 48 min; Hindi with Eng subtitles;

Violent winds of hate carrying human beings like so much debris – this is what is called internal displacement. A reality for hundreds and thousands across the globe, and for many Indians. These are the people the world calls IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) in dispassionate officialese. What is lost when people attack you and your home, forcing you to flee? What is the human cost that violent displacement extracts for generations? When the media has left, and public attention gone, forgotten uprooted lives still need to be rebuilt. But can they? Be really rebuilt? What does ‘rehabilitation’ mean? A new roof over ones head? Or, monetary compensation given by the State? Is the home that was lost ever regained?

‘The Colour of My Home’ follows a group of people, violently displaced after ‘riots’ in the North Indian town of Muzaffarnagar in 2013, seeking answers to these questions.

7) Cotton for My Shroud

Dir: Nandan Saxena, Kavita Bahl; 72 min; English, Marathi with English subtitles; 2011

‘Cotton for my shroud’ is an investigation into the failure of Bt. Cotton crop in India. Empty promises, escalating costs, dwindling yields and depressed cotton prices played havoc. Since 1995, a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide – the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history.

The Majority of them were cotton farmers from Vidarbha. While the state and the media label these deaths as suicide, the cotton fields of Vidarbha remain a mute witness to genocide.

8) 21 Hours

Dir : Sunitha C.V.; 28 min; Malayalam with Eng subtitles; 2020

This documentary film records the life of Rajamma, a woman fish vendor in Trivandrum, Kerala, who travels daily to Thoothukudy harbour 200 km away to procure fish and sell it back in her hometown. It highlights the struggle and strength of unorganised working women, who survive because of sheer grit, in spite of overwhelming odds.

Write up about the filmmaker : Sunitha studied Electronic Journalism at the Press Club Institute of Journalism, Trivandrum. Later she learned acting for films at the Prague Film School. She worked as journalist and program producer for various Television Channels in Malayalam before she moved into films as an actor, casting director and Executive Producer. 21 Hours is her first independent documentary.

9) Songs of our Soil

Dir: Aditi Maddali; 52 min; Telugu with Eng subtitles; 2019

Uyyala songs are an agricultural tradition rooted in the political expression of women in Telangana. Through these oral traditions, Songs of our Soil traces the histories of resistance and memories of disillusionment experienced by women across political assertions in the region.

From women’s participation in the historical Telangana People’s Movement to the demands of justice from the contemporary Mallana Sagar Irrigation project, this film attempts to complicate the relationship between memory, history, and cultural production in women’s political journeys.

This project is made possible with a grant from India Foundation for the Arts under the Arts Research programme, with support from Titan Company Ltd.

10) Naachi Se Baanchi

Dir: Meghnath & Biju Toppo

In his lifetime itself Dr. Ram Dayal Munda has become a symbol of indigenous cultural reawakening.

Born in an Adivasi Family of Tamar in Jharkhand he went for his higher studies in The United States of America. Later, he taught at the University of Minnesota. He came back to India to teach at Tribal and Regional Language Department of Ranchi University and subsequently became the Vice Chancellor of

the same University. Ram DayalMunda was the leading intellectual who has contributed to Jharkhand movement immensely.

Dr. Munda has represented Adivasi voices in Rajya Shabha and United Nations. He has been awarded with Sahitya Academy Award and Padmashree in 2009.

He passed away on 30th September 2011.

11) Red Data Book :

An Appendix

Dir: Pradeep Dipu & Sreemith 72 min; Malayalam with Eng subtitles; 2014; Documentary

The film is a layered examination of the factors, both contemporary and historical, that have led the Adivasi (tribal) communities of Attappady (Kerala, South India) to the verge of extinction. The film focuses on the phenomenon of rising infant mortality to probe the entire range of underlying factors.

Is it mainly due to malnutrition, as the State claims? Is it their exclusion from the fruits of so-called development? Is it their refusal to ‘modernise’? Or is it our inability to comprehend and preserve their centuries-old harmonious way of life? Have our prescriptive interventions helped? Or have they caused great harm?

The film attempts to understand the gamut of ‘alienations’ responsible – social, cultural, economic and political while gently posing the core question: Is it they who are alienated from the onward march of progress or is it us who are alienated, blinded by the discourse of modernity?

12) Ammi

Dir : Sunil Kumar; 90 min; Hindi with Eng subtitles; 2018; Documentary

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words – and never stops – at all…” ~ Emily Dickinson.

Four years of hope…. Four years of waiting in vain.

Ammi, still waits for her son to walk through the doors; she will never lose hope. This is one woman’s fight for justice to be seen.

Battered by the police, having been told by the myriad government agencies, investigating her son’s disappearance, that there was nothing to be found, no evidence to suggest anyone in particular was involved, she still stands with conviction.

Since Najeeb went missing on 15, October 2016 from the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, New Delhi, there has been no progress in the investigations of the various agencies investigating the disappearance.

The agencies’ initial suspects, the ABVP – a right wing youth organisation were the initial prime suspects in his disappearance. But it seems that it is just as easy as that to make someone disappear when the perpetrators are the youth wing of a right wing organisation in the time of a right wing government.

13) 18 Feet

Dir: Renjit Kuzhur; 77 min; Malayalam with English subtitles; Documentary

Karinthalakoottam is an indigenous band that propagates the music of soul to connect people with a sense of historic resolution. 18 feet symbolizes the holy distance dalits, the downtrodden, were to ensure for the sanctity of upper castes.

P R Remesh, a city public-bus conductor, is the man behind the exuberant squad that drums empathy for all in denial of historic untouchability attached to the disused community.The troop is the vanguard in redefining the identity of people who are battered by senseless incorrectness through centuries. The downtown Kerala band rekindles the sense of sanity for all with a massage of love and harmony.

14) Voices From the Ruins – Kandhamal In Search of Justice

Dir: K.P. Sasi, 95 min; with English subtitles; Documentary

The state of Orissa was born in 1936 as a result of the social reform movement initiated by Madhusoodhan Das, who was called `The Father of Orissa’. Madhusoodhan Das was a converted Christian. Kandhamal District in Orissa is mainly inhabited by Adivasis and Dalits and among them a large population are Christians. The biggest violence on the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians took place in 2008. The survivors of Kandhamal violence are still struggling against the improper compensation, improper rehabilitation and improper justice delivery systems. This film brings out the concerns of the survivors, through their own voices as well concerned sections, analysing the historical roots of violence, the impact of violence on various sections of the communities and the struggle for justice by the survivors of Kandhamal violence.

The Film Festival is being curated by Amudhan RP.

We request your participation and appeal to you to spread the word among your circle of friends and groups.

Thanking you,

Dr. Ram Puniyani

Convener, National Solidarity Forum

On behalf of National Solidarity Forum Core team

Dr. John Dayal

K.P Sasi

Dr. William Stanley

Dhirendra Panda

Fr. Ajaya Singh


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