Kolkata-based documentary ‘Pariah Dog’ arrives to India’s film festival circuit

Jesse Alk’s film, which was filmed in Kolkata, follows three people who care for the city’s native dogs

Updated - November 27, 2021 04:14 pm IST

Published - October 25, 2019 04:52 pm IST

Still from ‘Pariah Dog’

Still from ‘Pariah Dog’

After more than a year and a half of waiting, Pariah Dog , a documentary by New York-based Jesse Alk is nesting its home in India’s film festival circuit. The documentary follows three people in Kolkata who take care of the ‘ubiquitous’ native dogs in the city and often face ostracism or potential abuse from society. The film has executive producer Aditi Sircar (who’s known for directing The Kantha Stitch Of Bengal ) on board, too.

So far Pariah Dog has been announced for Dharamsala International Film Festival (November 10), Kolkata International Film Festival (November 13 to 15), and Film Southasia in Kathmandu, Nepal, later in the month. International Short and Independent Film Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which kicks off December 7. Those in Auroville can look forward to a community screening on December 4, too. What of other cities in the south? Jesse says he’d love to do screenings in Hyderabad, Bengaluru and also Delhi.

 

Having been screened across the United States and across Europe, the 77-minute film has won awards including Archana Soy Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at Tasveer South Asian Film Festival and Best Feature at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Montana. Jesse has also taken Pariah Dog to Central Asia.

Does Jesse keep in touch with the people he documented in the film? “Millie and Pinku [from the film] are on Facebook, so we chat back and forth,” responds Jesse. “Shubhruto doesn’t know I’m in Kolkata so I’m planning on surprising. Everyone in the film is pretty much in the same place as shown in the film, though.”

“A few Bengalis in the United States have seen the film and they feel the film captures something special about Kolkata,” says Jesse, “but I wasn’t sure about how Europeans and Americans would engage with the film; but now I’ve seen it’s really resonating with them, in that as humans, we are all on this journey to find work that makes sense while also helping the world. Many are especially touched by the fact that the people in the film don’t have a lot but still go about their day helping these dogs.” Thematically, Pariah Dog also touches upon urban loneliness, mental health and city infrastructure issues, to name a few.

“I do feel like the film’s journey, in a way, has come full circle,” explains Jesse, “after all, the filming was done in Kolkata and now I’m here... but there’s so much more to do: looking for commercial outlets and distribution opportunities in India. But what an incredible journey!”

PARIAH DOG - Trailer from Jesse Alk on Vimeo.

 

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