CHAR... the No-Man's Island
India / Italy, 2012 / Duration: 88 minutes
Director: Sourav Sarangi
Meet Rubel, fourteen-years-old boy smuggling rice from India to Bangladesh. Everyday he crosses the international border, river Ganga, which eroded his home in mainland India when he was just four. Years later a fragile island called Char formed within the large river. Rubel’s family and many homeless people settled in this barren field controlled by border army. He dreams of going his old school in India but reality forces him to smuggle stuff to Bangladesh. He fights on while monsoon clouds arrive inviting flood, the river swells up again. 'Char may disappear but we won’t’, smiles the boy.
An unusual sight struck me about ten years back. Pasrashpur, a small Indian village was vanishing before my eyes. Trees, buildings, roads... everything except humans slowly disappeared to a watery grave. River Ganga was eroding. A small crack on ground widens slowly, and after a while the piece of earth where you stood minutes before jumps into the river with a splash. And sometimes it simply goes down in silence, as if in slow motion. The land is consumed, much like a prey hypnotized by a recoiling anaconda. And the villagers told me something similar. “The river Ganga has turned into a snake here!” “Yes...” they said, “after the construction of the Farakka Dam (barrage) the mythical river mother has turned into a snake caught at her neck by modern technology. And for survival, the snake strikes back and forth with her tail to take away everything she gave us over ages.”
In a flash I could see a myth rationalized by the wise illiterates living in remote corners of my country. For me a journey began. I met Rubel, a village boy living on the verges of existence by smuggling rice from India to Bangladesh. He comes from the same village Parashpur that was eroded ten years back, which I shot.
The river gave back what it took; the lost land resurfaced as an island called Char. But the society ruled by our divisionist polities made it inaccessible by drawing lines called border! Thus, Char, the new land of hope becomes a prohibited zone to enter. People are not just physically cut off from the mainland but dehumanized in all regards. They become human ghosts having no voices. This disturbed me.
By making films you look into lives of others. But I believe, camera is also a mirror to you. I tried to express my experience and emotions by being in Char. And the tryst between man and nature fascinated me to tell the story a magical river and millions who were ...and will be there.
You can fix a border but not the river.
Busan International Film Festival, South Korea 2012 (competition)
Berlin International Film Festival, Forum, Germany 2013
International Film Festival of India, Goa 2012 Indian Panorama
GZDOC, Guangzhou Docu Festival, China 2012 (competition)
CHOPSHOTS, Jakarta, Indonesia 2012 (competition)
Dubai International Film Festival, UAE 2012 (competition)
Worldfilm festival, Tartu, Estonia, 2013
Imagineindia, Barcelona, Spain 2013
SIGNS, Thiruvananthapuram, India, 2013
Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greece, 2013
Tiburon International Film Festival, USA, 2013
Sydney Film Festival, Australia, 2013
DOK.Fest, International film festival, Munich, Germany, 2013
BYOFF, Bring Your Own Film Festival, Puri, India, 2013
Bhopal International Film Festival, India, 2013
ETHNOCINECA, Ethnographic Festival, Vienna, Austria, 2013
CRONOGRAF, Chisinau, Moldova, 2013
Millenium International Docu Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium, 2013
Abu Dhabi Environmental Film Festival, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2013
Environmental Film Festival, CINEMAMBIENTE, Torino, Italy, 2013
Pärnu Docu & Anthropological Film Festival, Estonia, 2013
Chhaya – 13, National Short & Docu Film Awards, Kerala, 2013
Ismailia International Film Festival for Documentary, Egypt, 2013
International Docu & Short Film Festival, Kerala, India, 2013
Ischia Film Festival, Italy, 2013
Moscow International Film Festival, Russia, 2013
Yerevan film Festival, Golden Apricot, Armenia, 2013
Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan, 2013
Topanga Film Festival, Topanga, 2013
24th Films from the South, Norway, 2013
Film SouthAsia, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2013
Silent River Film Festival, USA, 2013
CineMigrante IFF Buenos Aires Argentina 2013
ASTRA Film Festival Romania 2013
Festival International Jean Rouch, CP, France, 2013
CMS VATAVARAN Environment and Wildlife Film Festival, 2014
Black Movie Geneva Int. Film Festival Switzerland 2014
Cinema Planeta International Film Festival, Mexico, 2014
Golden Kapok Award (Best Direction), GZ DOC, China, 2012
Best Documentary Award, ChopShots, Indonesia, 2012
Special Mention, Dubai International Film Festival, UAE, 2012
Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus) National Film Award, India, 2012
Special Festival Mention - Jury, Bhopal Film Festival, India, 2013
Golden Reel Award (Best Documentary), Tiburon International Film Festival, USA, 2013
Best Feature Documentary & Best Director, Award for Stylistic Achievement, Social Impact Media Award, (SIMA), USA, 2013
The Student Council Award, Environmental Film Festival, CINEMAMBIENTE, Torino, Italy, 2013
Best Cinematography Award, International Documentary & Short Film Festival, Kerala, India, 2013
2nd Best Documentary, Best Editor, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Design, Chaya – 13, National Short & Documentary Film Awards, Kerala, India, 2013
UNICEF Nepal Award, FSA Nepal, 2013
Best Visual Identity (photography / editing ), International TV Festival Bar, 2013
Best Feature Prize, El Ojo Cojo, Spain, 2013
Best of the Festival Award, CMS VATAVARAN, 2014
Special Mention of the Jury, CineMigrante IFF Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2013
CINEMA Fairbindet Award, Berlinale, Germany, 2013
TRT Documentary Award, Turkey, 2013
Award of Excellence, International Film Festival for Environment, Health and Culture, Indonesia, 2013
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
After graduating from the Presidency College, Kolkata, Sourav Sarangi joined the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune specializing in editing. His debut film ‘TUSUKATHA’ received accolades from many leading international film festivals. Since then he has been editing, writing, directing and producing in both fiction and nonfiction genres. He is also popular among student communities in various film schools as an articulate teacher.
Currently he is involved in international co-productions as an independent producer and director. His recent award winning work is an international co-production documentary titled ‘BILAL’. The film is based on observations about a three-year-old kid growing up with blind parents in Kolkata. BILAL travelled over fifty international festivals winning eighteen top awards.
He worked as the chief editor in an Indo-Italian co-production in Rome and Naples. Sourav has also extensively worked in private television channels in India as chief programming director. He supported and executed a number of productions on popular entertainment as well as social issue films which are still considered important works in regional television industry.
Sourav has also served as jury in international film festivals.