What themes will the film cover?
Passion. Accessibility. Creativity. And more.
We Make Film explores how the protagonists got interested in film and video – where and how they watched films as kids, if they studied filmmaking formally, and the journey so far. It also looks at the present – what they’re making now, the challenges they’re working to overcome, and the support of their family, friends and colleagues. We Make Film also tries to understand issues like negative social attitudes, inaccessibility of films, workspaces and technology, and informal innovations that help make things work.
Where is the film based?
The crew will be travelling across India – Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane (west), Kolkata (east), Thrissur (south) – to collaborate with the protagonist filmmakers.
What is the film duration?
As of now, the film is expected to be about 60 minutes.
When is the film shoot and release?
We Make Film goes into production in March to May 2018. It is scheduled to release in 2019.
What is the visual style and feel?
We Make Film is a conversational, up-close and personal exploration of the protagonists’ lives. It explores challenges and barriers, but steers clear of a pitiful or sympathetic gaze. The film will present the protagonists’ stories as filmmakers first, and layer it with their connected experiences as people with disabilities, as women, and so on.
The film will be born out of a collaborative process with the protagonists, so the final product will reflect an exchange of audio-visual ideas and narrative styles. It will also be a reflexive film, i.e., the director will be reflecting on her own experiences (and privileges) as a non-disabled filmmaker, to see how filmmaking journeys converge and diverge at certain points.
How did this idea come about?
I worked with one of the protagonists, a deaf graphic designer, for illustrated panels in my debut film Accsex. As expected, it was a stimulating and professional creative process. I tried looking for more diverse contributors for my next two films, and it was striking how difficult it was to find professionals with disabilities in the usual film networks. So I took up this relatively unexplored topic for my film and research, to start a conversation about this everywhere.
Can you tell me more about your research on disability & filmmaking?
You can read more on the research here for a better idea of the timeline, main themes and theoretical debates that inform this film.
How will it actually help the filmmakers with disabilities? Any real impact?
By now, you might’ve realised that this film is as much about the people as it is about their social, cultural and economic environments. With screenings of this film, we hope to garner national and international interest to organise an advisory group for the the creation of future inclusive opportunities. This will consist of diverse stakeholders, including the protagonist filmmakers, who will help develop a policy pathway in India. This will also connect and contribute to ongoing discussions on filmmaking by people with disabilities across the world and especially, in the global south.
But before all that, the film process creates a participatory opportunity for protagonist filmmakers to contribute to the film substantially and take something back from it! More when you watch the film.
I want to ask another question. How do I get in touch?
Write in at s.s.ghosh[at]pgr.reading.ac.uk with your questions, thoughts and ideas. More contact details here.
Read selected Film Reviews & Press Interviews here:
“Before Margarita with a Straw, there was Accsex. Shweta Ghosh’s smashes the idea of disabled persons as they are frequently represented…The result is a fun, myth-busting, and path-breaking film that is confident in its navigation of gender, sexuality, and disability.” – The Reel@Scroll.In
“There is no question of pity or sympathy — the women invite camaraderie, and an admiration that is substantial in nature, not the condescending kind that elevates them on a pedestal because it does not know how else to deal with their disabilities.” – Sexuality and Disability Blog
“In doing exactly this, in inviting us to stare into these questions of caste, class, gender, race, colonialism and neoliberalism embedded in this drink we love, Ghosh’s movie is an act of love.” – FirstPost
“Filmmaker Shweta Ghosh has cast a gently humorous, sensual eye over the sights and sounds linked to tea production and consumption. Lush hillsides, women plucking the leaves, a clanging factory, the clink of glasses being washed, a stack of ginger, a droll song, a clattering spoon at a stall near Jama Masjid, where the tea is heavy not just with milk but a dash of cream.”
Synopsis: Beautiful. Ugly. Complete. Incomplete. Able. Disabled. Within stifling dichotomies of normal and abnormal, lie millions of women, negotiating with their identities. This film explores notions of beauty, the ‘ideal body’ and sexuality through four storytellers; four women who happen to be persons with disability. Through the lives of Natasha, Sonali, Kanti and Abha, this film brings to fore questions of acceptance, confidence and resistance to the normative. As it turns out, these questions are not too removed from everyday realities of several others, deemed ‘imperfect’ and ‘monstrous’ for not fitting in. Accsex traces the journey of the storytellers as they reclaim agency and the right to unapologetic confidence, sexual expression and happiness.
Producer: Public Service Broadcasting Trust; Year of Release: 2013; Telecast on Doordarshan (DD National) 2015
Awards: Special Mention at the 61st Indian National Film Awards 2014, presented by the Honble. President of India, Honourable Mention at the IAWRT International Awards 2013, Casblanca, Morocco (TV Documentary category), Special Mention at the 5th BOSIFEST – Belgrade International Disability Film Festival, Serbia, 2014, 2nd Prize at WeCare Film Festival (on Disability Rights) 2014, New Delhi Festival
Selected Festivals and Screenings: Picture This Film Festival, Calgary (Alberta), Canada (2014), Sydney Intercultural Film Festival, Sydney, Australia (2013), Public screenings by LSE Intersectional Feminist Society (2016), Sisters of Frida, London, Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds, UK (2015), Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York (2015), UK, International Film Festival for People with Disabilities (IFFPD), 2015, We Care Disability Film Festival (Travelling Film Festival) (2014), 10th IAWRT (India Chapter) Film Festival, screening at Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University, New Delhi, Bangalore Queer Film Festival, Bangalore (2014), PSBT Open Frame International Film Festival, New Delhi (2013), VIBGYOR Film Festival, Kerala (2014), Women at Work Film Festival , Ahmedabad (2014).
Credits: Divya Cowasji (Camera), Priiya Prethora (Sound), Shweta Ghosh (Script, Direction & Edit), Divya Cowasji, Vikas Jaiswal (Video post-production), Anindo Bose (Sound Restoration, Re-mixing & VO Recording)
Synopsis: Chai. Chaya. Chaha. Cha. Sa. For a phenomenon that is assumed to be integral to ‘Indian culture’, tea drinking only gained ground over a century ago. A successful advertisement campaign and copious promotion of tea turned it into an essential everyday beverage, closely seconded by coffee. ‘Authentic’ methods of preparation, though, were tweaked to suit tastes and tea drinking became as diverse as the culture of the subcontinent; from saccharine-sweet, spiced, ‘cooked’ tea to sumptuous long-leaf and salted, buttered concoctions, the camellia sinensis was savoured in all textures and climates.
Much like other culinary practices, tea began to define individual and community identities, similarities and differences. While tea made some spaces thoroughly inclusive, it also rendered many inaccessible. Elite tea drinking required that tea leaves be luxurious and abundant per cup. The chai tapris or tea stalls, on the other hand, re-used and stretched the flavour of smaller quanitities to make tea affordable. The same stalls, although seemingly approachable across class, often turned out to be sites of marginalization for gender and caste minorities. Who drank tea, where and how was marked by what one was perceived to be, making the very act mundane or revolutionary. And yet, the unifying characteristic of tea found crevices to emerge and rupture this narrative. The ability of this unassuming cup to initiate stirring conversation and debate, or make space amidst the commercial chaos to simply ‘loiter’ and relax, was remarkable.
Steeped and Stirred explores tea preparation and drinking in diverse contexts, to explore the social, cultural and political history of tea drinking in India. It tries to understand the various ways in which tea unites and divides us by connecting multiple narratives from across the country. Through an audio-visual canvas of the lush tea gardens of West Bengal, the buzzing coffee houses of Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram, the bustling Irani cafes of Mumbai and Hyderabad and the omnipresent chai tapri, this film captures the essence of tea drinking in India in all its eccentricity.
Producer: Public Service Broadcasting Trust; Year of Release: 2016; Telecast on Doordarshan (DD National) 2016
World Premiere: PSBT Open Frame Film Festival, New Delhi 2016
Credits: V. R. Harish (Sound Recording, Design and Mixing), Shweta Ghosh (Script, Direction, Camera & Edit), Surya Narayanan (Colour Correction and Grading)
Bhalchandra (90) and Kalindi Morje (83), lovingly known as Appa Ajoba and Kaku Ajji, are the oldest surviving members of the Morje family that settled in the coastal town of Vengurla in the 19th century. In an attempt to re-imagine and chronicle their lived histories along the Konkan coast of western India, the filmmaker, who also happens to be their grand niece, stumbles upon Appa’s handwritten account of his early life and times and a family tree she can’t find her name in.
To add to the golden, crumbling sheets of these lucidly written memories are Ajji’s witty narrations of cuisine, tradition and culture. As Ajji tells her more about how the family lived and ate, the filmmaker begins to find its resonance in stories her beloved deceased grandfather once told her about sea, sand and food. And within these blurry childhood memories of her maternal family and Vengurla, simmer questions of origin, belonging and home.
As she begins to makes sense of Appa’s nostalgia and Ajji’s recollections of childhood, migration and change, the filmmaker unearths the ancestral history of a chatkor (one-fourth) of her multi caste, regional and linguistic self. She negotiates with her experience of placelessness, only to find home in the familiar sizzle of fried bangra (mackerel), the warmth of pungent triphala spice and the balmy lusciousness of golden Alphonsos.
Producer: School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (A fellowship film supported via the Jamsetji Tata Trust).
Selected Festivals and Screenings: Imagine India Film Festival, Madrid, Spain (2015), Food Film Fest, Bergamo, Italy (2015), ‘Camera and I’: Personal Documentaries, Films Division, Mumbai, India (2015), Cut.In Film Festival, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India (2015); VIBGYOR International Film Festival, Kerala (Thrissur) India (2015)
Credits: Ajay Noronha (Camera), Suresh Rajamani (Sound Recording),Shweta Ghosh (Script, Direction & Edit), Unny (Sound Design and Mixing), Ajay Noronha (Colour Correction and Grading)
Film & Production Stills: