2nd Chennai Film Festival on Democracy 2015

2nd Chennai Film Festival on Democracy
Jointly organized by MARUPAKKAM and Periyar Self Respect Media
14-16 Aug; 11 am to pm; Venue: Periyar Thidal, Chennai

Screening schedule

14th August 2015
11 am: Inauguration
Guests: Devaneyan, Human rights activist, Vetrivel Chandrasekar, filmmaker

11:15 India Untouched – Stories of a People Apart
Dir: Stalin K; 106 min; 2007; Many Indian languages

“India Untouched - Stories of a People Apart” is perhaps the most comprehensive look at Untouchability ever undertaken on film. Director Stalin K. spent four years traveling the length and breadth of the country to expose the continued oppression of "Dalits", the "broken people" who suffer under a 4000-year-old religious system.

1:00 pm  Lunch break

2:00 Words on Water 
Dir: Sanjay Kak; 85 min; Hindi with Eng subtitles; 2002

 "Shasan valo, sun lo aaj - Hamare gaon mein hamaara raaj" (Listen to us, you who rule - our villages, we control). A boat carrying that cargo of defiance begins an urgent journey through the Narmada valley. For more than 15 years, people of the valley have resisted a series of massive dams on their river, and in their struggle have exposed the deceptive heart of India’s development politics. The struggle has forged unusual alliances. Adivasis in the hills, farmers from the Nimad plain, sand-quarriers and fishermen on the river, and middle-class activists. They are ranged against the powerful apparatus of this chosen model of development - ministers, magistrates, police commissioners, the World Bank, and in this era of privatization, multinational corporations.

4:15 Tea Break

4:30 Are You Listening?
Dir: Kamar Ahmad Simon; 90 min; Bangla; 2012; Bangladesh

Rakhi (27) lives with her man Soumen (32) and son Rahul (6) in a small village named Sutarkhali next to the mangrove forests of Sundarbans in the coastal belt of Bangladesh. Along with around hundred other families, they live on the land for generations. On 25 May 2009, when Rahul is only four years old, a tidal surge sweeps over the coasts of Bangladesh, flooding the entire village and the lands they cultivate. Life changes for Rakhi, Soumen and Rahul as the entire village takes refuge on an age-old dyke, surviving on relief from outside. Are You Listening! is about a mother’s hope to ensure a dignified future for her son. It's about a jobless husband’s frustration for failing to provide for his family, and a community’s struggle to get back the land they have lost.

6:00 pm: First Cry
Dir: Ajay TG; 52 min; Hindi, Chattisgarhi, Bangla with Eng. Subtitles; 2014

Of the people, by the people, for the people are grand words that rarely find a meaning in reality. Shahid hospital is a rare exception. In 1981, under the leadership of Shankar Guha Niyogy of the Chhattisgarh Mazdoor Shramik Sangh, the mine workers of Bhillai Steel Plant in Dalli Rajhara, in Chhatisgarh, India, acted on a need sorely felt by them, to have a hospital that would not turn them away, to cater only to the middle class. Over 10,000 workers donated their wages and built the hospital, brick by brick, with their own hands. The workers invited doctors like Dr. Binayak Sen, Dr Saibal Jana and others to join and they themselves trained as auxiliary staff to assist them.

Today, the hospital runs itself and provides the best of modern healthcare to all, at minimal cost. First Cry, tells us the wonderful story about how this remarkable hospital came into being and even today how it continues to be an oasis of hope.

15th August
Guest speakers: Nityanand Jayaraman, Activist, Pon Sudha, Filmmaker

11 am:  A Pestering Journey
Dir: K.R.Manoj; 66 min; Eng subtitles; 2011; India

A pestering journey’ unravels the many interwoven layers of culture and agriculture and foregrounds the logic of green revolution. Taking a pestering turn, the journey blurs the boundaries of nature and culture, of self and other, of life and death and many other comfortable binaries we inhabit. It tries to ask how much regard for life a culture should have to ponder over the question, what a pest is. In an atypical move, it challenges and changes the idioms of pesticide and genocide and reveals the claims over knowledge and expertise, which pushes a pesticide like Endosulfan to a dubious position between poison and medicine.

12:30 Mercury in the Mist
Dir: Amudhan R.P.; 17 min; Tamil with Eng subtitles; 2011; India
Ex-workers of a thermometer factory owned and run by Hindustan Lever Limited in Kodaikanal, a hill station in south India suffer from mercury contamination. 30 persons have died so far due to various diseases. The ex-workers of the factory continue their fight against the multinational company which refuses to take the responsibility.

1:00 Lunch break

2 pm: Assam: The Endless Attacks
Dir: Maga Tamizh Prabhagaran; 24 min; Tamil; 2015

Violence and clashes are not new for Assam, because the conflict is bonded with the land and identity. A wave of violence on 23, Dec 2014 have displaced 30 million people from their own land. And this is said to be the world’s highest Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) where people are displaced in their own land and the aftermath still continues. News7 Tamil journalist Maga Tamizh Prabhagaran traveled to the most dangerous parts of the Assam borders along with the International Boundary Line to reveal the base of blood-bath violence.

Maga Tamizh Prabhagaran will take part in the discussion.

2:45 The Land of Many Palaces
Dir: Adam James Smith & Ting Song; 61 min; Chinese; 2015; China

In Ordos, China, thousands of farmers are being relocated into a new city under a government plan to modernize the region. “The Land of Many Palaces” follows a government official whose job is to convince these farmers that their lives will be better off in the city, and a farmer in one of the last remaining villages in the region who is pressured to move. The film explores a process that will take shape on an enormous scale across China, since the central government announced plans to relocate 250,000,000 farmers to cities across the nation, over the next 20 years. 

4:00 Tea break

4:15 Films by Films Division : curated by Avijit Mukul Kishore

NR 0067: Republic Special, 5 min, 1948
India Independent, 21 min, 1949
Our Constitution, 13 min, 1950
The Great Experiment, 10 min, B/W, 1952
The Preamble, 6 min, English, B/W, GK Gokhale, 1973
You Said It, 8 min, English, Colour, Ram Mohan, 1972

5:45 Thousand Days and a Dream
Dir: C.Sarat Chandran and P.Baburaj
60 min; Malayalam with Eng subtitles; 2006

After opening to great acclaim for bringing jobs and development to rural Kerala, a Coca Cola bottling plant started to cause alarm. Community members began to see a darker side as their water supply started to showing signs of contamination and depletion. Despite ridicule and dismissive attitudes, local citizens have organized and fought to bring their message to the outside world. Directors P. Baburaj and C. Saratchandran follow these groups as they are pitted against politicians, state police and corporations in hope of protecting their lands and children from the dangers introduced by the plant.

16th August
11 am to 1 pm
Guest speakers:
Veli Rangarajan, art critic
KR Athiyaman, media person

11 am Naga Story: the other side of silence
Dir: Gopal Menon ; 62 min; Nagamese, Manipuri, English and 14 Naga languages with English subtitles.; 2003

The Nagas are a 3 million-strong indigenous people who occupy the North-East frontier of the Indian subcontinent. The The Naga political struggle is one of the oldest nationality movements in South Asia, continuing till present times. The film Naga Story provides an introduction to the history of the Naga struggle, and documents the human rights abuses suffered by the Naga people in more than 50 years of the existence of Independent India. Naga Story, which took 5 years to complete, is the first comprehensive film about the Naga struggle for identity, self-determination, peace, and justice.

Gopal Menon will take part in the discussion.

12:30 Yuban
Dir: Yaasib Vázquez; 30 min; Spanish; Mexico; 2011

A view of the transformation of a Zapotec community, showing nostalgia for a life principle that is dying out, the efforts of the inhabitants to keep their culture alive.

1:00 Lunch break

2 pm – 5pm
Guest speaker: Chandra Thangaraj

2:00 pm Mounam Pesumpothu
Dir: Nisha Ponthathil; 56 min; Tamil with Eng subtitles; Documentary; 2014

The film Mounam Pesumpothu portrays the violence against women, despite incredible social changes achieved by our country. Though the film narrates the experiences of women in Tamil Nadu specifically, every Indian woman can relate to these narratives. From sexual harassment to rape, acid attack, female infanticide, female foeticide, marital rape, domestic violence, dowry harassment, police atrocities, this film unravels the horrific ways our patriarchial society treats women. The film also discusses the root cause for the violence and proposes the different ways by which these violence can be mitigated.

Nisha will take part in the discussion.

3:30 pm Hope Dies Last in the War
Dir: Supriyo Sen; 80min; Bengali; 2007; Documentary

54 Indian soldiers taken as Prisoners of War during the Indo-Pak war of 1971 are yet to return home. While waiting for them, some of the parents died, some of the wives remarried and some children lost hope and committed suicide. But the real ordeal has been for those who did not give up. For them life has become a tight rope walking between hope and despair. But they have fought the mental battle of attrition for almost four decades and are still not willing to resign.

5:00 pm My Name is Palaru
Dir: RR Srinivasan; 63 min; Tamil; 2008

Palaru is an ancient river of Tamilnadu, some archeologists say Palaru, river is the "ancient Cauvery" [paleo cauvery]. Palaru begins from Nandi hills, Karnataka and flows to Andhra Pradesh, then to Tamilnadu. Breaking the 1892 mysore samasthanam agreement Karnataka built two major dams and stopped the water to Tamilnadu, Within the stretch of 32 kms Andhra Pradesh built 22 dams. Once a perennial river now become a desert, for five decades there is no water in the river. In Tamilnadu from Vaniyambadi to Ranipet nearly 1000 tannery industries pollute the river with very dangerous chemicals like chromium and nickel. In Kancheepuram once a Buddhist capital. The Palaru changed in to complete sand mining sight. Both the private contractors and the government of Tamilnadu dig the river up to 40 feet to take the sand. In the age of mineral water bottle, a great drinking water source is completely destroyed by the central and state govt.

RR Srinivasan will take part in the discussion.

All are welcome!

Amudhan RP.
2nd Chennai Film Festival on Democracy 2015


  1. Hi, thanks for sharing about this wonderful effort. Next time, please consider including films on/by sexual and gender minorities, if possible. Best wishes for continuing your vital initiatives.


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