By T.V. Antony Raj
Chithra Jeyaram the award-winning documentary filmmaker feels obligated to communicate the realities of everyday life as it unfolds, focusing on the nuances that can never be dwelt upon or deliberated via mass media. She hopes her films would help to break the barriers that exist in India. She writes:
Fiction films are make believe, there is no doubt about that. But documentaries, what are they? Are they real, artistic depiction of reality (fiction films do that) or is it an interpretation of reality. Documentaries have existed from the beginning of cinema – the first things captured in film was life as it happens – people walking, laughing, talking, dancing etc. For me, When life is full of unpredictable possibilities and wonderful characters, why cook up stories. I see the world of documentaries as a magical realm of discussing the real through a manipulated sequence of visuals and sound bytes. This blog is a journey about documentary films that I come across and how they intersect with life. This intersection will feature a variety of subjects including current affairs, special events, significant dates, memories, film festivals, rendezvous with people of significance, etc. (sic)
Chithra’s first exposure to filmmaking began in 2004 with financing an unsuccessful documentary film about an explosive water-sharing dispute between two South Indian states. Profoundly stricken by that sour experience, she quit a decade-long career as a Physical Therapist and acquired a Master of Fine Arts degree in film production from the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.
Currently, she is the founder and creative director of Real Talkies, a boutique production house in the Washington DC metro area. “Real Talkies” produces meaningful films that inform, inspire, and educate people on issues that shape people’s lives and their contemporary culture.
- In 2009, she received the Dina Sherzer Award for Social Awareness (2009) for her film “Refugee Musings”.
- In 2011, her film “Foreign Puzzle” received the post production grant from Dance Films Association.
- In 2012, her short film Mijo (My Son), an evocative portrayal of a mother and a child’s intimate relationship in the midst of life altering medical events received the CBA Your World View Documentary grant and won countless awards. (See the list at the bottom)
This summer Chithra Jeyaram produced a 3 minutes 10 seconds long documentary film “Rags to Pads” about an extraordinary inventor/entrepreneur, Arunachalam Muruganantham, a school dropout, and his remarkable innovation – the inexpensive sanitary pad.
Muruganantham nauseated on finding his wife using rags during her menstrual cycle, dirtier than the rags he uses at his mechanic workshop, realized that most Indian women shun sanitary napkins because they could not afford to pay the price. From his research, he found that out of India’s 355 million menstruating women only a small segment use sanitary napkins. Pathetically, about 81% of women in India use dirty rags, newspapers, dried leaves and even ashes during their periods. Finding the need for an affordable, low-cost sanitary napkin, Muruganantham set himself on the task of fulfilling the need.
This 3 minutes 10 seconds long film, “Rags to Pads” now a semifinalist in the Focus Forward Filmmaker Competition among 93 other incredible films is poised to win the $100,000 Grand Prize.
I have embedded this film in this post. If you like it, vote for it (vote button is on the top right corner), and of course, you may share it.
A note on Mijo (My Son): An evocative portrayal of a mother and child’s intimate relationship in the midst of life altering medical events.
1. Seond place Best Documentary Award at the Moving Media Student Film Festival, Detroit, Michigan 2012
2. Winner Silver Ace Award at the Las Vegas International Film Festival, Las Vegas, 2012
3. Best Short Documentary Award at the 21st Arizona International Film Festival, Tucson, Arizona 2012
4. Audience Award at the 4th Wallabout Film Festival, Brooklyn, New York, 2012
5. Best Documentary Award at the 45th Humboldt Film Festival, Arcata, California, 2012
6. Best Student Documentary Award at the 4th Sene Film and Music Film Festival, Providence Rhode Island, 2012
7. Best Student Documentary Award at the 17th International Family Film Festival, Burbank, California, March 2012
8. Best Student Film at Pennine Film Festival, Lancashire, UK, March 2012
9. Best Documentary Award at Watersprite: The Cambridge International Student Film Festival, Cambridge, UK, February 2012
10. 3rd Place Short Documentary Award at Winnipeg Film Festival, Manitoba, Canada February 2012
11. Best of Show Award at 21st Rose Bud Film Festival, Arlington, VA. November 2011
12. 2nd Place Best Short Film Award at James River Shorts, Richmond, VA. November 2011
Nominated Best Documentary at Long Island International Film Expo, June 2012
Honorable Mention Rochester International Film Festival, April 2012
Finalist at 4th Breast Fest Film Festival Online Contest, Toronto, CA. September 2011
Nominated Best Documentary @ 9th Super Shorts International Film Festival, London, UK Dec 2011
1.Doc Utah, St. George, Utah, September 2012
2.7th Docufest, Atlanta, September 2012
3.Vegas Cine Fest, Las Vegas, September 2012
4. Fear No Film at the Utah Arts Festival, June 2012
5. 2nd Outbox International Short Film Festival, Beirut, Lebanon, June 2012
6. Rainer Independent Film Festival, Ashord, WA, June 2012.
7. Mexico International Film Festival, Mexico, May 2012
8. 13th Lake Arrowhead Film Festival, May 2012
9. UT LongHron Showcase, Austin, Texas, May 2012
10. 12th Cape Fear Independent Film Festival, Wilmington, North Carolina, April 2012
11. 13th Newport Beach International FIlm Festival, Newport, California, April 2012
12. River Side Film Festival, April 2012
13. 7th Sunscreen Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Florida, April 2012
14. 13th Barebones International Film Festival, Muskogee, Oklahoma, April 2012
15. 39th Athens International Film and Video Festival, Athens, Ohio, April 2012
16. 11th Annual River Bend Film Festival, Edwardsburg, Michigan, April 2012
17. 16th Annual Kansas City FIlm Fest, Kansas, Missouri, April 2012
18. 11th Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival, Dekalb, Illnois, April 2012
19. 7th European Independent Film Festival, Paris, France, March 2012
20. 2nd Green Bay Film Festival, Green Bay, Wisconsin, March 2012
21. AFS Showcase at SXSW, Austin, Texas, March 2012
22. 4th Talking Pictures Film Festival, Evanston, Illinois, March 2012
23. 15th Aunual George Lindsey UNA Film Festival, Florence, Alabama, Feb 2012
24. 1st Mix International Short Film Festival, Richmond, Virginia Feb 2012
25. 15th Magnolia Independent Film Festival, Starkville, Mississippi, Feb 2012
26. 5th Annual Thin Line Film Festival, Denton, Texas, Feb 2012
27. On the edge film festival, International Falls, Minnesota, Jan 2012
28. Weyauwega International Film, Weyauwega, WI November 2011