METRO PLUS

What you won't see on TV

`Best of INPUT' will feature 20 forthright `public' films from 17 nations

"Bold, forthright, innovative, these films are must-viewing for every one of us, particularly the wannabe journalists. They uphold the principles of truth telling, as endangered in journalism today, as are the documentary and docufiction films themselves," says Sashi Kumar, Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He was talking about "The Best of INPUT 2004-2005", a package of 20 films from 17 nations that will be screened from August 21 to 23 at ACJ. The event is supported by the Max Mueller Bhavan.

These films were part of the annual conference of International Public Television (INPUT), launched in 1978 to provide a platform for independent filmmakers serving the public, and public interest.

The package includes acclaimed films such as "Ghosts of Rwanda"(USA) and "The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine" (France). Others too speak of atrocities, injustice, terrorism and exploitation. "Media Jihad" (Japan) explores Al Qaeda's manipulation of the media. Methods of enlisting soccer players in "Stories of Ivory" (Belgium) contrasts ruthless western managers and African recruits dreaming of fame and fortune. The prison-house is the ironic location for "The Trial" (Kazhakhstan) of young convicts, and in "Murdered Murderers" (Iran) where the testimonies of wives who killed their spouses describe brutalities perpetrated on women. The problems may be age old, but the perspectives are new. In "The World of a Barber's Shop" (Brazil) different strands of hair weave the stories of six immigrants. The problems of childhood assume an unexpected form in "Arna's Children" (Netherlands), in a theatre group on the West Bank. "In Satmar Custody" (Israel) the filmmaker poses as an orthodox Jew, as his hidden camera records the fate of Yemenite children `kidnapped' by diehard American Jews. "Kindergarten" takes us to classrooms in China.

"Paradoxically called public films, these docufilms challenge too many vested interests to make it to the regular channels," says Sashi Kumar. The role of INPUT in ensuring their exhibition is a crucial one, as also of organisations like the ACJ, taking their courageous voices to alternative venues and to other viewers. Most of the themes belong to the Third World, but most of the films are made, or funded, by the nations of the First world.

GOWRI RAMNARAYAN

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