Kalasam - screener

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Indian stories on Microcredit by Anna Pitscheider

Year: 2006, 28 mins
Code: API-Kalasam

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The KALASAM is the arrangement of a brass or silver pot filled with water, holding a coconut amongst mango tree leaves at its mouth. It's regarded as auspicious and used to initiate Poojas and invoke the Goddess Shakthi in the local culture. When the women started saving for contingencies again, as their predecessor had done for generations, they wanted to do so in an auspicious manner in the name of the God so that it will continue and flourish. They decided to give the name KALASAM for their saving group, collect saving and work with this name in Madurai area.

Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, at Menaxi Temple the Hindu devotion, Brahmin steps on Shiva mantras.

While in Madurai slum, at a brick factory, at the stone cave: young women are carrying awful weighs: on Parvati sorrowful voice. These are the people migrated from the village, in search of new source of income.

But, in a rural area, there is an alternative to migration. A woman and her daughter start the new day bathing on a little lake. This is a portrait of the beauty of the rural life and a journey in the women's activities.

As an alternative from moneylender politics, women organised themselves gathering money funds to be borrowed on turn, to face hard times or to start small enterprises at the village, according with the local resources, still on wage basis: this is the core of MICROCREDIT. In the countryside north Madurai we meet a dress making: the girls can sew their saree blouses by sewing machine. A Mother and daughter prepare mango pickles. Not far a sugar cane field, the juice is processed and boiled with a fire burning the waste. In a nearby village the rice is cultivated then separated from the fibre that animals can eat, and pre cooked to be stored for one season. A village is totally devoted to palm leaves weaving: the large family gathers every morning around cut trees and leaves.

The rhythm of a little hammer resounds in the tamarind scent: the fruits are prepared and weighted. While the rope is created from the fibre of the coconut, in another village medicinal plants are picked up: the sacred neem glues the women and their families. Deep south, in Srilanka direction, the sea near the shore is a field: seaweed are picked up and cultivated day by day to grow under the sun. The day has gone: in the temple the Brahmins are still celebrating god.

With the support of European Commission Directorate General for Development
Producer: Tamil Nadu Production, KENZI PRODUCTIONS

Director and Photography: ANNA PITSCHEIDER
Executive producer: ANNAMARIA GALLONE

Music: Matthew Hillier - ISHQ www.ishq.org
Sudha Ragunathan  www.sudharagunathan.com

From the Director: Since '97 every year I’ve spent long time in India. During the last years I’ve made documentaries out of my experiences with a subjective approach. I am aware that the presence of a foreign eye - filming the daily life of people who’ve never seen me before - makes some differences, generating a temporary relationship that moulds or forces the filmed "reality". For this reason I often choose to remain at a certain distance with the camera, in order to let people forget about my presence. In Tamilnadu micro-credit programs for women development are concentrated. KALASAM is not a "technical" documentary on micro-credit, it doesn't want to give information by words, because words are mediation, it is rather a journey through atmospheres, through spontaneous, deep and warm looks, a language which is immediate and universal. Patriarchal system is anchored to Brahmin world, it seems immobile. In the Madurai Temple the mantras to Shiva, god of destruction but also of creation of new worlds, leads the believers’ steps. Parvati, his female side, rises a moaning from the brick factories and the stone caves where the young women work with no rest.


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