A rape documentary banned from airing in India received its U.S. premiere at a star-studded event that included actors Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto.
The screening of India’s Daughter at Baruch College began on Monday with a vigil as Oscar-winner Ms. Streep lit about a dozen candles honouring the Indian student who died after being gang-raped on a bus in 2012. Organisers said about 650 people attended the event.
“Tonight we light these candles to honour the value and the work of the (victim)’s short, promising life,” Ms. Streep said. “She was India’s daughter. Tonight she’s our daughter too.”
“Ultimately, this is a film that needs to go out,” said Ms. Pinto, the Indian actor known for her role in Slumdog Millionaire , who does not appear in the film. “This is not a shame-India documentary.”
The film’s U.S. premiere follows a week of controversy in India.
The documentary, by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, herself a rape victim, was to have aired on NDTV on Sunday, International Women’s Day, but a court order halted the broadcast. It was done in the interest of maintaining public order, according to Indian authorities. Instead, the channel showed a blank screen.
India’s Daughter first was screened in Britain on a British Broadcasting Corporation channel last week. Indian viewers cannot see it on the BBC website, but it can be seen on YouTube.
“This film in no way is propagating violence in order to solve the problem. In fact, what we’re saying is let’s do this in the most civilized possible way ever,” Ms. Pinto told The Associated Press before the film’s screening.
“This is not just an India problem; this is a problem that inflicts almost every country in the world,” she said. “There’s not a single country in 2015 that is free of sexual violence against women.”