Documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak talks about his new film, Red Ant Dream, and the architecture of revolutionary desire

 


Red Ant DreamTrailer Published on May 1, 2013
A documentary about those who live the revolutionary ideal in India
Director: Sanjay Kak
Synopsis:  ‘Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist’, the revolutionary patriot had said almost a hundred years ago, and that forewarning travels into India’s present, as armed insurrection simmers in Bastar, in the troubled heart of central India. But to the east too, beleaguered adivasis from the mineral-rich hills of Odisha come forth bearing their axes, and their songs. And in the north the swelling protests by Punjabi peasants sees hope coagulate–once more–around that iconic figure of Bhagat Singh, revolutionary martyr of the anti-colonial struggle. But are revolutions even possible anymore? Or have those dreams been ground down into our nightmares? This is a chronicle of those who live the revolutionary ideal in India, a rare encounter with the invisible domain of those whose everyday is a fight for another ideal of the world.
Gondi, Odiya, Punjabi with English Subtitles
—————————————————————

 

Talking about a revolution…

Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singhby BUDHADITYA BHATTACHARYA, The Hindu,

 

  • [Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singh]
  • The third in a cycle of films that interrogate the workings of Indian democracy, Red Ant Dream by Sanjay Kak looks at the revolutionary ideal as it exists in India today. Moving between Punjab, Bastar and Niyamgiri, the film documents the songs, histories and struggles of people who try to imagine a different world into being. The director responded to questions in an e-mail interview:

 

Can you talk about the beginnings of Red Ant Dream? When and why did you get interested in making this film?

 

A still from the film.

[Photo:  A Still From the Film]

It’s always difficult to say where the beginnings of a film lie, because in a sense what you put into a documentary could be the summation of many years of thinking about an idea, your whole life even! For more than a decade all my films have been about resistance – Words on Water was about the movement against big dams in the Narmada valley, Jashn-e-Azadi about Kashmir, and now with this new film we look at the stirrings in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, and briefly Punjab. More specifically, I think Red Ant Dream was a reaction to the way in which the rebellion led by the Maoists in central India was being depicted in the media and in public discourse – as an isolated, autonomous outbreak of something like a pestilence, something alien called Maoism. Continue reading

How Occupied Kashmiris “Celebrate” Freedom

Jashn-e-Azadi (How We celebrate Freedom)

a film by Sanjay Kak (2008)

Synopsis

It’s 15th August, India’s Independence day, and the Indian flag ritually goes up at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar, Kashmir. The normally bustling square is eerily empty – a handful of soldiers on parade, some more guarding them, and except for the attendant media crews, no Kashmiris.

For more than a decade, such sullen acts of protest have marked 15th August in Kashmir, and this is the point from where JASHN-E-AZADI begins to explore the many meanings of Freedom – of Azadi – in Kashmir.

In India, the real contours of the conflict in Kashmir are invariably buried under the facile depiction of an innocent population, trapped between the Terrorist’s Gun and the Army’s Boot. But after 18 years of a bloody armed struggle, after 60,000 civilians dead (and almost 7,000 enforced disappearances), what really is contained in the sentiment for Azadi, for freedom? Continue reading

New Film: “When the State Declares War on the People”


India_revolution_new_film_when_the_state_declares_war_against_the_people_Chhattisgarh_rights_violations

When the State Declares War on the People

A 15 minute Trailer on the Human Rights Violations in Chhattisgarh resulting from Operation Green Hunt.

Synopsis

We have been hearing many stories about the human rights violations before and after Operation Green Hunt was announced. Allegations and counter-allegations have been going around. Fact-finding investigations have uncovered the atrocities security forces are committing in these areas, but now those very findings are being questioned.

At such a time it is crucial to present the reality and tear the veils obscuring the truth. When the State Declares War on the People is a 15-minute trailer by Gopal Menon based on his recent coverage of the ground reality in Chhattisgarh. This short film contains exclusive interviews with victims and their testimony including 1 1/2 year old Suresh who had three fingers chopped off his left hand, an old man who was electrocuted and whose flesh was ripped off with knives, women raped by Special Police Officers and CRPF.

The film also presents the views of Arundhati Roy and Mahesh Bhatt, two eminent citizens who have been closely following developments in Chhattisgarh. The clear intention of the State – to wipe out all resistance through terror in the name of fighting the Maoists – is demonstrated in this film.

About the Director

Gopal Menon is an activist-filmmaker focusing on caste, communalism and nationality. He was arrested twice while trying to go to Lalgarh and beaten with rifle butts and lathis. He was detained in Dantewada too. This is a trailer of a larger film on the Indian State’s war on the people.

Some of Menon’s earlier films are Naga Story: The Other Side of SilenceHey Ram!! Genocide in the Land of Gandhi,PAPA 2 (about disappearances in Kashmir) and Resilient Rhythms (a rainbow overview of the Dalit situation) amongst others.

The trailer for this film is available on YouTube in two parts:

Part 1 (8:17 minutes) at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rygJzzutBOg

Part 2 (6:44 minutes) at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66Kvl3e1MlM

Below is a report on a screening of the film at the Press Club of India in Delhi. Continue reading

An Excellent Film on the Lalgarh Movement

This 39 minute documentary, made in Bengali, shows the people of Lalgarh in action–cutting down trees to block the police and paramilitaries from using the roads, and confronting the security forces at every turn.  It also has interviews with members of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities.

Copy and paste this url to watch the video:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2338671304380482228&hl=en#

Adivasis Appeal to James Cameron to Aid Fight against Vedanta Land Grab

This article appeared in the Guardian (UK) on February 8, 2010.

The Dongria Kondh say the plot of James Cameron’s blockbuster reflects their plight as they struggle to stop company from opening bauxite mine on sacred mountain.

The Dongria Kondh tribe from eastern India today appealed to film director James Cameron to help them stop controversial mining  company Vedanta from opening a bauxite mine on their sacred land as they believe that he will understand their plight better than most.

Like the Na’vi tribe in Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar who are desperately trying to stop humans from mining under their sacred ‘home tree’ in Pandora, the Dongria Kondh are trying to stop Vedanta from opening its mine on the mountain they worship.

Vedanta plans to construct an open-cast mine on Niyamgiri mountain in Orissa state which activists believe will destroy the area’s ecosystem and threaten the future of the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh tribe, who depend on the hills for their crops and water and who believe the mountain and surrounding forest to be a sacred place.

Stephen Corry, director of the charity Survival, which campaigns on behalf of indigenous people, said: “Just as the Na’vi describe the forest of Pandora as ‘their everything’, for the Dongria Kondh, life and land have always been deeply connected. The fundamental story of Avatar – if you take away the multi-coloured lemurs, the long-trunked horses and warring androids – is being played out today in the hills of Niyamgiri.

“Like the Na’vi, the Dongria Kondh are also at risk, as their lands are set to be mined by Vendanta Resources who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. The mine will destroy the forests on which the Dongria Kondh depend and wreck the lives of thousands of other Kondh tribal people living in the area.”

In an advert in Hollywood entertainment magazine Variety, the Dongria Kondh said: “Appeal to James Cameron. Avatar is fantasy … and real. The Dongria Kondh tribe in India are struggling to defend their land against a mining company hell-bent on destroying their sacred mountain. Please help the Dongria.”

Chhattisgarh Cultural Program to Free Binayak Sen

free_political_prisoners_in_india

This article was published on the blog Ajadhind.

If Binayak Sen is a Naxal, so am I – former Chief Justice of New Delhi

It’s two years and the government is yet to take any step for the doctor’s release

“Kick me, shake me, you can never break me” seemed to be the punch line of the emotionally charged ‘Free Binayak’ campaign held in Delhi on May 14. It marked the second year of imprisonment of human rights defender, Dr Binayak Sen, in Chhattisgarh.

The gathering saw hundreds of social activists, friends and supporters of Sen protesting against State atrocities through songs, poetry and straight-from-the-heart speeches. Participants voiced the need for a revolution and pledged their solidarity for the cause.

It started with a rendition Bob Dylan’s eternal classic, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” It was performed by a group of youngsters – Ritwik, Pakhi and Tushar, and everyone joined in the chorus. This was followed by a folk song, Gulabidas’s Marjeeva, by feminist Deepta Ghosh.

Explaining the song, she said, “Marjeeva denotes the man who dives into an ocean for pearls. It tells us that a person has to struggle and suffer pain to emerge successful and better than ever. Binayak Sen is also facing a tough struggle, but I know that like the Marjeeva, he will be vindicated and get justice in the end.” Continue reading

Thoughts on Slumdog Millionaire

From http://kasamaproject.org

This review is by Louis Proyect, moderator of the Marxmail list, and first appeared on his blog, the Unrepentant Marxist.

(Mike E’s personal note for the record: I ‘m a big fan of Slumdog Millionaire — its ingenious portrayal of the unexpected knowledge among the poor, its window into a world made generally invisible, and its homage to Bollywood. I like cultural fusion and crossover. And I am suspicious of  cranky left attempts to impose a template of necessary portrayal on a work of art, without considering their sweep and context.  And I’m suspicious of the protests that portrayal of poverty is somehow colonialist, and not appreciative enough of the rise of Indian development and middle classes. Meanwhile this is a time in the U.S. when  people talk about the faceless third world  ”stealing our jobs” (even people who should know better)– and in such a chauvinist climate, isn’t the impact of a film like this to illuminate the common connections and aspirations between people internationally?  Could there be other, better, more politically scathing and subversive works? Yes, of course. And while that is worth imagining and pursuing — it is also worth appreciating what we have been given.” )

by Louis Proyect

Not long after I posted my rave review of Slumdog Millionaire, an old friend from Bard College whose politics can be described as a shade to the left of the Nation Magazine, informed that he did not care for the movie at all.

Here are the final paragraphs of his review that appears on a group blog initiated b–y Richard Greener, another Bard graduate and old friend:

“What I remember most vividly are the scenes of homicidal communal violence, universal indifference to the fate of helpless children, their blinding, maiming and daily exploitation (all presented as normal features of life in the big city) the routine use of torture on the merest suspicion by everyday police (this little station keep electrical equipment on hand for the purpose) and a general, straightforward, unabashed level of social snobbery so smarmy as to register in the pit of the stomach. Continue reading