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Watch! You too can be an agent of change

The second edition of the Flashpoint Human Rights Film Festival that opens today, brings together films that highlight human rights violations around the world. The Guide gets festival director Sridhar Rangayan to tell us why you should watch these five films that focus on India

Firaaq (Separation) (2008)
Director Nandita Das
Duration 101 minutes
Language(s) Hindi, English, Gujarati/ English subtitles
When Thursday, 6 pm



What's it about?
Firaaq explores the aftermath of the 2002 violence in Gujarat on 'ordinary lives'. Shahana Goswami plays Muneera, one-half of a young Muslim couple who return to find their home looted and burnt. The film explores how everyday dynamics change when lives, families and homes are destroyed in the name of religion.

Why you should watch it:
"There has been endless debate and heated arguments about the communal riots in Gujarat. Every coin has two sides, and every argument has a flipside. But what does not have a flipside are the human lives that get caught in the middle."

Pink Saris (2010)
Director Kim Longinotto
Duration 96 minutes
Language Hindi/ English subtitles
When Friday, 10 am



What's it about?
Sampat Pal, the pink-sari-wearing protagonist of acclaimed filmmaker Kim Longinotto's film, is a role model for women in Uttar Pradesh. Married as a young girl into a family, which made her work hard and beat her often, Pal rebels against the system by founding her Gulabi Gang and helping women reclaim their lost voices.

Why you should watch it:
"Who would have thought that a simple woman from a rural village could create a movement! The film is an amazing insight into what makes activists who they are -- it is essentially about 'being human'."

In Search of My Home (2010)
Director(s) Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas
Duration 30 minutes
Language Hindi / English subtitles
When Saturday, 12 noon

What's it about?
India is home to one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Thousands of men, women and children come here in search of shelter and new identities. The country, however, still lacks a comprehensive domestic refugee law that could help guarantee basic rights and a life of dignity for people forced to leave their homes behind.

Why you should watch it:
"This is a peep into the lives of people who live among us, but whose existence we are indifferent to: Migrants who have fled their countries because of hatred and violence and come to India to seek shelter."

Cotton For My Shroud (2011)
Directors Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl
Duration 82 minutes
Languages English, Marathi, Hindi/ English subtitles
When Friday, 2 pm



What's it about?
The film follows the lives of three families to understand the reason driving the once prosperous farmers of the Vidarbha region to despair. Is it an issue of debt or of development? Since 1995, a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide -- the largest wave of recorded suicides in humna history.

Why you should watch it:
"You see the [consequences of] the apathy of the government and the invasion of the capitalist multi-nationals into rural India. The funeral scene of the farmer who has committed suicide left me shattered."

Mee Sindutai Sapkal (I Am Sindutai Sapkal) (2010)
Director Anant Mahadevan
Duration 110 minutes
Language Marathi/ English subtitles
When Saturday, 6 pm



What's it about?
The film traces the journey of Sindutai Sapkal, who was born 'Chindi' meaning 'torn cloth'. Brought up in abject poverty, she was married off at the age of 12, and then thrown out of her house by her husband and his in-laws after being unjustly accused of carrying another man's child. Not a victim of her circumstance, Sindutai survives and goes on to adopt abandoned children to help build shelters for them.

Why you should watch it:
"This is a fantastic biopic that has  been beautifully shot. The trials Chindi undergoes before becoming Sindu, and then Sindutai who shelters thousands of orphans, is a life that goes beyond the pages of a book or the duration of a film."

On: (open to the public on) Thursday, Friday and Saturday
At: Theosophy Hall, Alliance Francaise de Bombay, 40, New Marine Lines Road (near SNDT Women's University, Churchgate)
Call: 22035993
Entry Free
Log on to: http://www.flashpointfilmfestival.blogspot.com/ for details on the complete schedule (schedule subject to change).

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