Monday, July 14, 2014

Some reasons why I support Anamika Bandopadhyay´s film project" The Third Breast".

On December 16, India became the headline on all the recognized International newspapers and bulletins, for her daughter Jyoti Singh. Jyoti (age 23) was brutally beaten and gang-raped and finally died. The media attention and the public discourse reached a crescendo around this horrific event. Well, it was not a one-off case of sexual violence, but it did circulate the term ‘rape-culture’ in the public discourse.Everyone was talking about Rape and sexual misbehaviors, even my 11 years old son. Only few days back he attended the maturation curriculum here in the US, the curriculum which is almost nonexistent in India. The teachers asked me whether we have such awareness programs in Indian schools too. I said  “No" and fumbled.” (Anamika Bandopadhyay on her project The Third Breast)

There is no need to repeat what can be read on her excellent Indiegogo Crowd funding page. For a better understanding of this film project, the whole page should be read.

How I came in touch with the films by Anamika Bandopadhyay?
It was on Facebook when I posted a link to my English translation of my text on Ritwik Ghatak´s trilogy on the partition of Bengal. I think it was around 2011, where she gave some very interesting and insightful comments on Ritwik Ghatak. Some times later I realized that we share as well our admiration for Bengali film maker Aparna Sen.  Two years ago, I finally had the luck to watch two of her films, 1700 Kelvin from 2012 and Red from 2008, a film which deals with this Nandigram -protest ( a Human Right issue which remained nearly unknown out of India) in which she was involved. “
Involved “ is probably a good key word for the work of Anamika Bandopadhyay. As she often introduces herself as a lecturer, filmmaker and social activist – all these aspects are inseparable in her work. Both of these films include excerpts from filmy by Ritwik Ghatak. Like Ghatak she actually does not just make films “about someone or something” from a safe distance. The disturbing images we see don´t seem to be filtered through the neutrality of the image making apparatus. She is not an observer anymore but participating.
In her film Red, the cinematic chronicle of her experience with the Nandigram issue, there are some scenes, interviews with two women, abused by the police of the former left government of the CPM of West Bengal. While these women, one is a Muslim, the other a Hindu are telling from a nightmare of violence and humiliation, we see the filmmaker beside them. She always touches them to console them and when one of the woman begins to cry she even hugs her. That is a quite beautiful and compassionate gesture in the middle of a nearly apocalyptic environment. These moments are hunting me from the moment I saw this film. So I never really regretted to have compared these moment with magical and moving moment in a film by Terrence Malick which means a compassion which is sensible in every atom of this film.

Another film I saw only in an excerpt because it is not available in its full length but there is on YouTube a 5 minutes excerpt from her film Rough Cut.  I don´t even know what the whole film is about but I was mesmerized by these 5 minutes. An adolescent girl in a Hindu temple in front of the statue of a naked goddess. It seems the girl is measuring the body of this statue of a goddess and compares it with her own. As this moment tells about nothing else but of two bodies, a living one who is just in its puberty and an artificial one, it seems to me like a prayer to the results of the creation.
Even though it is a very quiet scene, we always get an idea that in this moment we discover our body the violence of ideologies and oppressions of some thousand years of human civilisation will invade our mind. It seems to me like a meditation on the beauty of our physical existence so often denied in nearly all religions and most of any ideologies.

These 5 minutes alone are reason enough to be excited about Anamika Bandopadhya´s new project The Third Breast. After all what I heard and read about this project, it looks like her most ambitioned project to date – and after all what I have read and heard about The Third Breast, it will be much more than a documentary but also a poetic film essay about how the beauty of our physical experience and how it became contaminated through a complex of powers and its ideologies.

Among so much young filmmakers I came across, there is one more thing I love in  the work of Anamika Bandopadhyay. We will never find any kind of “manifestos” in her talking about cinema and always more than "filmed ideas" Her work is a kind of quest for something which is essential for cinema, like Godard said "films on the visible things of the world".
Another of so many exciting aspects of this film project is the involvement of one of India´s finest cinematographers Sunny Joseph.

The film might be obvious about one of the most important subject of contemporary India. That will offer a lot of stuff for discussions. But the feeling I have after all what I read and heard about this project, I expect also a unique cinematic treatment of this subject, a treatment which does not work with an ideological predetermination but with a sensual and poetic search for the truth. 
Crowd funding campaigns and the growing number of platforms for this kind of film funding might be caused by difficulties to find a producer or funder but they offer as well a possibility to support and promote projects which are outside the mainstream and often outside of the specific trends and fashions of the so-called Independent Cinema. 
I supported some crowd funded projects in the past but concerning The Third Breast it is one of the most important projects I ever supported and I don´t regret any cent and any minute of time I dedicated for supporting this project. The reason is just that I believe in this film and if I have to mention some names of filmmakers which deserve a broader recognition than Anamika Bandopadhyay is one of the first names which come to my mind.

So please take a proper look at her project The Third Breast which deserves all the support it needs. You will find extended informations under following links:

And for all who haven´t read them yet, my two texts on films by Anamika Bandopadhyay.

The crowd funding Campaign goes until August, 10, 2014.

Rüdiger Tomczak

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