Documentary on Vidarbha Agrarian Crisis ‘Cotton for my shroud’ won Gold at the IDPA Awards-2011 and Nominated for the Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival-2011
Nagpur -26th October 2011
The story of the cotton farmers suicides of Vidarbha produced as documentary film ‘Cotton for my shroud’ by Top Quark Films and directed by Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl has been overwhelmingly viewed and got a very good response at the Mumbai Film Festival, organised by MAMI which was screened at Cinemax, Versova on October 15, 2011which has won the gold for script at the IDPA Awards-2011 and It has also been nominated for the Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival at Delhi, to be held in December 2011, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishor Tiwari informed today.
“This is first documentary film which gives true picture of ground reality and exposes the reason of mass genocides of farmers done bt the state and US base Bt.cotton seed company Monsanto We are trying to organize screenings in different cities in other Indian metros too so that we can get civil society support which has turned it’s blind eye on this very serious issue over years .we are indebted to producer who has dared to release this documentary even after getting big hurdles from administration ”Tiwari added.
‘Cotton for my shroud’ shows story of dying field of vidarbha where more than 10,000 cotton farmers have committed suicides since 2004 after the introduction of American Bt.cotton seed as it report and
You need iron in your soul to walk through the villages in Vidarbha region of India. There is hardly a farmer here who is not under debt and rarely will you come across a village where there has been no suicide. This cotton-growers belt once known for its fine cotton produce is known for cotton farmers' suicides today. It is now termed as the 'graveyard of farmers' by statisticians.
Vidarbha region in the state of Maharashtra – one of the richest states in India - has the highest instance of farmer suicides in India. With over 2.5 million tribal people, it is a classic case of a forest and mineral-rich region languishing while the funds for development are siphoned off to the 'influential' districts in the state. The voice for a separate statehood for Vidarbha is gaining momentum.
The feature-length documentary, 'Cotton for my shroud' is not reportage. The film tries to understand from a grass-roots perspective what is driving cotton farmers in India to despair - is it just a crisis of farm credit and the stranglehold of the moneylender or are they victims of faulty paradigms of development.
The agriculture policies of the Government and their collusion with multinational corporations eyeing the vast market in India - are exposed by the testimonies of farmers and scientists. Torn between aggressive marketing of supposedly 'better varieties' of transgenic crops by the State and his traditional wisdom of low-cost and eco-friendly agriculture, the farmer ultimately lands up in the honey trap of Bt. The result is in an unending cycle of debt and misery.
'Cotton for my shroud' was shot over two extensive visits to the hinterlands of Vidarbha.
In the summer, the lack of resources and bank loan for sowing the fields drives poor farmers to end their lives. In the winter, the depressed rates of cotton become the proverbial last straw.
If one farmer kills himself, we can call it a suicide. But when a quarter of a million kill themselves, how can the government call it suicide? It is genocide.
The Indian state has created conditions that are not conducive to the survival of small farmers. They want them to go, just as the small farmers disappeared in the west. In their place shall step-in large corporations that own vast swathes of farmland, growing pesticide-laced, genetically-modified food for an unsuspecting nation.Narrated in the first person, from the p.o.v of the film-makers, the film looks at the macro picture while following the lives of three families.
While the state and the media label these deaths as suicide, the cotton fields of Vidarbha remain a mute witness to genocide.The film was shot over two visits to the hinterlands of Vidarbha.
Narrated in the first person, the film looks at the macro picture while following the lives of three families. It gives us a window into the drama and despair that forms the warp and weft of life at Vidarbha.
About the Directors: Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl
Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl work in the genre of documentary and poetry films.
Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights.
Having spent almost a decade as news-journalists, they turned a new leaf and started as independent documentary film-makers in 1996. Their films explore man’s relationship with his environment through diverse themes and issues: culture, poetry, water, climate change, sustainable livelihoods and human rights.
Their voluntary initiative ‘Via-Media’ is an effort to catalyse change by taking positive stories to receptive minds, and to build the capacity of citizens groups and movements. They take workshops to initiate inquisitive minds into film-making and photography.
Before studying journalism, both of them were students of English literature at the University of Delhi. Kavita reported for The Indian Express for seven years, of which, two were spent covering special features in the North-eastern states.