NOTE: Below is the synopsis of an award winning film from India on the Bt cotton crisis. The film is being screened in London this Saturday the 19th of January as part of the Investigative Film Week.
The farmers of Vidarbha invite you to a screening of "Cotton for my shroud"
Part of the "Investigative Film Week" organised by CIJ, London.
Saturday 19 January, 2013 @ 4 pm
@ Oliver Thompson Theatre
City University London
London, EC1V 0HB.
The film was awarded the Rajat Kamal for the Best Investigative Film at the 59th National Awards, 2011.
It was nominated in the Indian Panorama for the year 2012 and screened at the recently concluded International Film Festival of India, at Goa.
The Directors Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl will introduce the film and share their experiences. The film screenings shall be followed by a Panel Discussion.
Please forward this invitation to friends and kindred souls @ London.
As companies that produced poisons for biological warfare during the cold war positioned their deadly wares as agricultural inputs, the last few decades have seen humans waging war upon themselves. The civilised world has taught people to be comfortable with this inevitable 'collateral damage.'
Vidarbha, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, has become a bloody battleground in this ongoing global war between corporate greed and the people's "Right to life".
"Cotton for my shroud" investigates how Monsanto manipulated government policy, fabricated Bt Cotton field trials and enticed farmers with propaganda about yields and reduction in pesticide use.
Empty promises, escalating costs, dwindling yields and depressed cotton prices played havoc with the cotton-growers.
Since 1995, a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide - the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history.
Most of them were cotton farmers from Vidarbha.
While the state and the media label these deaths as suicide, the cotton fields of Vidarbha remain a mute witness to genocide.
"Cotton for my shroud" is not reportage. While it tries to understand from a grass-roots perspective what is driving the cotton farmers to despair, it also exposes the diabolical designs of multinational corporations to control seed supply. A nation that does not have food security cannot claim to be independent. And the government is complicit in this second colonisation of India.
Narrated in the first person, the film gives us a window into the drama and despair that forms the warp and weft of life at Vidarbha.
About the Film-makers:
Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl are the recipients of the National Award for Best Investigative Film at The National Film Awards (2011), for their film 'Cotton for my shroud'. They work in the genres of documentary and poetry films. Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights.
After their Masters in English Literature from the University of Delhi, they did a diploma in journalism. Thereafter, Kavita worked for "The Indian Express" for seven years and Nandan worked for the audio-visual media, doing News and Current affairs programming, in what they call their previous life.
They turned a new leaf in 1996, as independent film-makers. Their films explore man's relationship with his environment through many windows - cultural, political and anthropo-botanical.
Their voluntary initiative "Via-Media" is an effort to catalyse change by taking positive stories to receptive minds, and to build the capacity of citizens groups and movements. They take workshops to initiate inquisitive minds into film-making and photography. They are visiting faculty at the Department of Culture and Media Studies, Central University of Rajasthan, where they teach Photography and Video-Production.
They have hosted a workshop on DSLR-film-making in partnership with Canon during the Vatavaran Film Festival in December 2011; and another workshop on DSLR Film-making during the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF-2012) in February 2012. They are doing another wtwo-day workshop at Bhubaneshwar on February 3 and 4, at the 8th National Film Festival on Arts and artists, organised by the renowned artist Jatin Das.
Nandan is also an avid photographer. In 2009, he had a 30-day solo exhibition of his photographs at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.