University of Pittsburgh
November 8, 2004

Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University Present a Festival of South Asian Documentary Films Nov. 9-21

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—A classroom is not the only place to learn about current affairs; from Nov. 9 to 21, Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University will offer Pittsburghers insight into the affairs of South Asia—through film. Traveling Film South Asia is a free public festival of documentary films from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, brought to Pittsburgh courtesy of Film South Asia, a competitive biennial festival of documentary films on South Asian subjects organized by the Himal Association, a nonprofit institution dedicated to spreading knowledge and information in Nepal and South Asia, in collaboration with Himal South Asian magazine.

Films will be presented at various times Nov. 9 and 10, Nov. 13 and 14, Nov. 16 and 17, and Nov. 20 and 21. At 4:30 p.m. Nov. 15, Kauski Bhaumik, a research fellow in the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies at the Open University, United Kingdom, will present a keynote address, titled "The Melodramatic Real and the Labors of South Asian Cinema" in 136A Baker Hall, Frew Street, Carnegie Mellon. Bhaumik received the Ph.D. degree in film history at Oxford University. His main area of interest lies in investigating relationships between visual culture and trajectories of modernity, but he also studies the role of gods, demons, and nymphs in Bollywood (Indian) cinema.

The film festival schedule (dates, times, locations, daily themes, and film descriptions) is as follows:

Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m., 100 Porter Hall, development issues

Development Flows from the Barrel of the Gun (India, 2003), directed by BijuToppo and Meghnath. The film, which lasts 54 minutes, is about indigenous people affected by development projects in an age of globalization.

Hunting Down Water (India, 2003), directed by Sanjaya Barnela and Vasant Saberwal. Lasting 32 minutes, the film explores the impact of India's water use patterns on the livelihoods of the country's rural poor.

Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m., 100 Porter Hall, conservation

The 18th Elephant: Three Monologues (Kerala, India, 2003), directed by P. Balan. The 62-minute film critiques man's mercenary attitude toward nature and shows the plight of the Kerala elephant.

Nov. 13, 4 p.m., 5130 Posvar Hall, 230 S. Bouquet St., Oakland, rivers and people

Sand and Water (Bangladesh, 2002), directed by Shaheen Dill-Riaz. This 105 minute-film shows the everyday lives of people along the middle section of the Jamuna River in Bangladesh, an area called "the deadly paradise."

Nov. 14, 4 p.m., 5130 Posvar Hall, indigenous people

The Fire Within (Jharkhand, India, 2002), directed by Shriprakash. The film, which lasts 57 minutes, discusses issues of corruption, the land mafia, energy politics, the displacement of villages, and 'tribal' identity in a coal-mining belt inhabited by the Tana Bhagats, a section of the Oraon tribe who follow a Gandhian lifestyle and philosophy and who today are besieged by Naxalite—terrorists bred and sustained by Indian communists—violence.

Resilient Rhythms (India, 2002). Directed by Gopal Menon and lasting 64 minutes, this film deals with a range of dalit—the untouchables of the Indian caste system— responses to being marginalized, from armed struggle to electoral politics.

Nov. 16, 6:30 p.m., 100 Porter Hall, public violence

Tale of the Darkest Night (Bangladesh, 2001), directed by Kawsar Chowdhury. This film, lasting 43 minutes, is a story of the killings by the Pakistani army at Dhaka University and the nationalist uprisings that created Bangladesh.

The Terror Trail (Gujarat, India, 2003). Directed by Shubradeep Chakravorty, this hour-long film investigates the February 2002 Godhra train burning and subsequent rioting that killed 3,500 Muslims in Gujarat.

A Bridge over Troubled Waters (Pakistan, 2003), directed by Samar Minallah. Lasting 40 minutes, this film examines the Pakhtun practice of marrying off minor girls to atone for crimes by male kin.

Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m., 100 Porter Hall, poetry travels

A Night of Prophecy (India, 2002). Directed by Amar Kanwar and lasting 77 minutes, this film travels through Maharashta, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, and Kashmir depicting, through poetry, the varied local cultures.

Nov. 20, 4 p.m., 5130 Posvar Hall, collective identities

The Unconscious (Maharastra, India, 2003), a 19-minute film directed by Manisha Dwivedi exploring the lives of men who call themselves kothi. Society recognizes kothi as men, but kothi consider themselves women and take more "macho" men as their 'husbands'.

Made in India (India, 2002), directed by Madhusree Dutta. In this 39-minute film about contemporary visual cultures in India, a rural artist paints her autobiography. Symbols of nationalism become fashionable commodities: the national flag flutters on 150 kites, installation artists paint pop icons on the rolling shutters of shops, and the images of Bollywood movie icons are erased after a week-long run of their films.

The Bond (Bombay, India, 2003). Directed by K.P. Jayasankar and A. Monteiro and lasting 45 minutes, the film shows two friends working toward conflict resolution and community amity in Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia.

Nov. 21, 4 p.m., 5130 Posvar Hall, music in Nepal

In Search of a Song (Nepal, 2003), a 55-minute film directed by Kiran Krishna Shrestha that follows a Nepali journalist on his quest to discover the origins of a folk song.

History for Winners (Nepal, 2003), directed by Pranay Limbu. Lasting 55 minutes, this film chronicles an award-winning singer's attempt to make a comeback after a seven-year hiatus.

The festival is sponsored by Pitt's Arts and Science Faculty Research and Scholarship Program, Film Studies Program, Asian Studies Center within the University Center for International Studies, and the Indo-Pacific Area Council in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon's Office of the Vice Provost of Education and Department of History. For more information about the festival and for directions to each of the venues, visit