Asian Cinema Fund 2018

2009 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

Project The Earnest Years
Category Busan Bank Fund
Project The Earnest Years
Director Sandeep RAY
Country India
Director's Profile Sandeep Ray was born off the Straits of Malacca in Malaysia. He spent his early childhood adjacent to a rubber plantation and was then educated in India and the United States. He has worked as an editor, camera operator and producer for the past fifteen years. His films [Leaving Bakul Bagan, Miyah: The Life of a Javanese Woman], and [A Trial in East Kalimantan] have been screened at numerous festivals and showcased at the Walter Reade Theater, The Getty Center, The Whitney Museum, The Flaherty Seminar and the Margaret Mead Festival among other venues. He has worked as a media professional for The National Geographic, Harvard University, The Smithsonian Institution and The World Bank and has worked on projects in India, Indonesia, Namibia and the United States. Sandeep has recently written a master’s thesis on modern Indonesian history at the University of Michigan.
 
Synopsis
[The Earnest Years] is a film about a poet who eventually faces writer’s block. The filming for this project began in 1991 when the filmmaker started taping the life of Sarthak, a twenty-one year old college student living in Calcutta. The film chronicles in intimate detail the various facets of this young man’s life. In the course of this film Sarthak struggles and graduates from college, takes up a teaching job in rural India, marries his girlfriend, publishes his first book of poems, grapples with alcoholism and has a son. Numerous characters -- his mother, wife, irate literary agent, close friends, fellow writers, students and teachers add to the fabric of this story. Sarthak takes us through the underbelly of Calcutta – in slums, bars, apartments, literary meetings and alleyways as he tries to understand his life and find meaning in his work.
Director's Note
This 17 year collaboration attempts to document the creative process of being a poet through a detailed chronicling of the many aspects of a writer’s life. The film takes place in the backdrop of rapid economic and social growth in India and we get a glimpse of a society going through major upheavals. [The Earnest Years]is a coming of age story but it is also a historical record of Calcutta, Bengali literature, large Indian families and a close documentation of what it is like to grow up in a Marxist State in a nation that is rapidly embracing globalization and free markets. Political and social commentary is ever-present in the film as we travel through the triumphs and the laments of those idealistic ‘earnest’ years of youth.
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