“Livelihood” issues to be captured on big screen in 6th CMS VATAVARAN 2011, environment and wildlife film festival this December

by Narender Yadav November 01, 2011
Traversing the remote villages in Mali, highlighting the hardships faced by the street children on railway tracks, depicting the unsustainable working conditions of mine workers in Rajasthan and narrating the story of poor tribals, the 6th CMS VATAVARAN film festival 2011 will showcase different struggles for survival, writes Jerry Varghese
 “Livelihood” issues to be captured on big screen in 6th CMS VATAVARAN 2011, environment and wildlife film festival this December

Film: "Kaippad: The Backwater Paddy and Fish Field"

Livelihood, food security and sustainable development are the issues that bring man and nature not only close to each other but more often they are also at loggerheads. Focusing on the issues of livelihood the films selected for the environment and wildlife film festival depicts how the struggle for sustainability, both ecologically and economically, is going on in different parts of the world and how different cultures and societies are adapting and transforming in different ways. It is also an attempt to capture the challenges faced by the urban and rural poor in their vocation and bring these issues to the attention policy makers.

This package of films on livelihood will be screened during 6th CMS VATAVARAN, environment and wildlife film festival from Dec 6-10, 2011 at New Delhi, India.

Livelihood Films to be screened in the festival:-

Film: Dreaming Mali

Synopsis: If art can be a universal language, why shouldn't it be possible to use it with people of totally different social, religious, educational and cultural backgrounds? Two visual and performing artists from Berlin traveled to remote villages in Mali where people speak only Bambara. They used traditional techniques of smelting ore, music, dance and traditional songs from different cultures. They experienced how easily authentic contact could develop. The project was started to turn their dream into reality. While in Mali dreams are already as real as everyday life; this inspired Barbara Kawa the director of the film to shoot dream-like scenes with Malian villagers.

Film: Cowboys in India

Synopsis: In a remote and impoverished region of India, a London film-maker Simon Chambers is unaware of the trouble he will cause his two endearing, bumbling local guides as they investigate the corporate social responsibility programme of London-based mining company Vedanta Resources. The company plans to chop the top off a local tribe's sacred mountain, promising to bring all the benefits of modernity to the area. But many of the tribal people vow to fight with their bows and arrows against 'enforced development', preferring a simple life in nature. As conflicting allegations of illegality and intrigue accumulate, this odyssey becomes evermore surreal as the three main characters try to unearth the elusive truth.

Film: Platform No. 5

Synopsis: The director C.Vanaja tries to show the world of street children and examines the concepts of love, fear, respect and money from the perspective of a child, grown up or growing on the streets. The film explores how a street child's personality evolves, how he/she gets 'educated' and who his/her agents of socialization are in the absence of formal institutions like home and school. Children earn their living doing work such as selling used bottles; many have never thought of the threat to their lives from gang wars, or of children being exploited by networks who make living by selling human organs. When they hear of it, the hope to change their lives flickers.

Film: Anna Data- Food for Thought

Synopsis: The film looks at the concept of food security in India. Umesh Aggarwal the director of the film tries to reveal the truth about the public distribution system, and other government schemes, which contradict what the real situation is. In spite of bumper food grains production in successive years, India's food security situation has not improved significantly. Newspaper reports tell us that while people die for want of food in Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput areas in the state of Orissa, tonnes of food grains in FCI godowns and warehouses decompose and decay. Why does this paradox exist — mass hunger with mounting food grain stocks? The film asks these pertinent questions.

Film: Cotton for my Shroud

Synopsis: You need iron in your soul to walk through the villages in Vidarbha region of India. The once prosperous farmers of Vidarbha now live under the shadow of the grim reaper. Once known for its fine cotton, this belt is now termed as the 'graveyard of farmers' by statisticians. Directors of the film Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl try to understand from a grass-roots perspective, what is driving cotton farmers in India to despair. Is it just a crisis of farm credit and the stranglehold of the moneylender or are they victims of faulty paradigms of development. Narrated in the first person, from the point of view of the film-makers, the film looks at the macro picture while following the lives of three families.


Film: Harvest of Grief

Synopsis: Anwar Jamal deals with farmers' suicides in southem Punjab's Sangrur district due to indebtedness from the high cost of inputs, water, mechanised farming, chemical pesticides and fertilisers and low economic returns. The alarming agricultural scenario in Punjab has been caused by a chain of disruptive historical events and myopic government policies. Punjab has been at the receiving end of the adverse effects of the Green Revolution and the process of trade liberalisation and globalisation. The film reveals the overwhelming forces behind the worsening agricultural scenario through the tragic stories of seven families of suicide victims. The film also records the views of agricultural scientists and grassroot activists.

Film: Land of Widows

Synopsis: The film focuses on the unsustainable working conditions of mine workers in the state of Rajasthan, India. Set in the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan, this film captures the exploitation the workers have to go through on a daily basis to work in illegal mines a dollar a day. Blending investigative journalism with helplessness and dark humour, the director Aarti Shrivastava tells the stories of average sandstone miners victimised by corporate greed and political corruption. It examines how sandstone mining has affected local communities’ and also people occupied with this occupation. The stories of struggle and visions of hope open a door to the complex issue that is threatening the future of mine workers and their families.



Film: Kaippad

Synopsis: "Kaippad: The Backwater Paddy and Fish Field" deals with the ecological importance of backwater marshes in northern Kerala, which have a unique ecosystem. This ecosystem has been tapped for livelihood by the local poor, using indigenous techniques, which also preserve the ecosystem. The film charts out the ecological changes and relationships between people and environment, through different seasons. During the rainy season, a 'kaippad' becomes nature's own paddy field, maintained and enriched by tides and heavy down pour, without any chemical fertilizer or pesticides. During another, it is a field for birds, prawns and fishes. Once the farming season ends, human life in the marsh regains its rhythm through traditional fishing methods. The film is a compelling story of understanding the ecological importance along with the importance of traditional lifestyle in preserving the environment.


About CMS VATAVARAN (www.cmsvatavaran.org)

CMS VATAVARAN is India’s premier festival and forum on environment and wildlife issues. The 6th biennial competitive edition of CMS VATAVARAN will be held in New Delhi from December 6-10, 2011. The theme of CMS VATAVARAN 2011 is Biodiversity Conservation and is in sync with India hosting the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 11th Conference of Parties (CoP11) in October 2012. The festival aims to bring to the fore larger environmental concerns through films. It forges a dialogue and generates timely debate on the topical environmental issues involving the public. The festival was initiated in 2002.