Documentary films on South Asia
Documentary films on South Asia:
This is the World´s leading centre in producing, funding and distributing South Asian documentary films. The Centre, connected to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA, has an extensive and diverse collection of South Asian films, mostly available in VHS video format, but also in 16 mm format for a significantly reduced price. PAL format is available at a higher price. More information on the centre´s web page.
Among the many films on offer, the centre offers a set of five videos (in VHS video format), specially chosen to present themes from classical Indian traditions. The five films have a thematic and logical interrelationship, although each film was made as an independent investigation. • An Appointment With An Astrologer; • The Fourth Stage: A Hindu's Quest for Release; • Holi Hey: A Festival of Love, Color, and Life; • The Frontiers of Peace – Jainism in India; • Bearing the Heat – Mother Goddess Worship in South India.
The film Holi Hey: A Festival of Love, Color, and Life is produced by Dr Mark Katz, associate professor of History of Religions at the University of Karlstad. It was recorded in India, and shows how the annual north-Indian Spring festival of Holi is celebrated in the city of Banaras (Varanasi, Kashi). A respected Banaras brahman, Mahant Veer Bhadra Mishra, recounts in the film several explanations for the Holi festival. These include the story of the devout youth, Prahlad, whose trust in God led to the flaming end of his wicked aunt Holika (recalled in the Holi bonfire); and the story of Krishna and his romantic encounters with Radha and the village cowgirls (reflected in the exhuberant color spraying/dousing of Holi). The film dramatizes how once each year the Holi festival unites neighborhoods, breaches the barriers of age, caste, social rank, and religious afiliations, and calls on all to share in unity and merriment.
Marc Katz has produced a new documentary, released through the The Center for South Asia at University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2004. The film is called ”Banaras Muharram and the Coals of Karbala”, and provides a rare glimpse of Muslim life in the Indian city of Varanasi. It narrates the classical Muharram story and includes thoughtful interviews with Banarsi Muslims, powerful scenes of Shi'ite worship (including self-wounding), elaborate tazia processions, and scores of young men fire-walking (actually fire-running) through the ”coals of Karbala”. More information on the film.
Karuppan productions is a company based in Singapore which is dedicated to the documentation of Indian and Southeast Asian culture. Karuppan produces thematic photo-CDs, video-CDs, and video-cassettes on cultural events, folkloristic arts and crafts, and interesting sites. The main focus is on South India, especially on Tamilnadu and Kerala, but interest is also given to the cultural connections between India and Southeast Asia. Hence included in the production are documentaries on Indian cultural influence in Singapore, Indonesia (Bali), and Cambodia (Angkor). Karuppan productions is a small enterprise which works with a very narrow profit-line. The members of the enterprise are researchers – mainly in the fields of Indology and Cultural Anthropology – who hope to create through this initiative a portal for the distribution of documentary video- and photo-material largely meant for academic purposes. The films always provide the original soundtrack either with an explanatory voice-over or with explanations in subtitles.
The Centre for Society and Environment, CSE, in Delhi, produces and manufactures a few documentary films on Indian environmental issues. One is named Alvar, and a second one Bandits And The Backhanders. More information on the CSE Store web page.