Asian Cinema Fund 2018

2011 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

Project Powerless
Category DongSeo Asia Fund
Project Powerless
Director Fahad MUSTAFA
Country India, Austria
Director's Profile Fahad Mustafa was born in Kanpur, grew up in the Middle East, and has lived, studied and worked in India, Europe and North America. Fahad was an Erasmus Mundus Scholar and has previously worked as a researcher with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and as a freelance writer on energy and development issues in India. Fahad lives in New Delhi, India. Fahad’s first feature-length documentary [FC Chechnya] premiered in 2010 and won the Audience Award for Best Film at the This Human World Film Festival in Vienna.
Shariq, a 22-year-old electrician living in Kanpur, is renowned for his prowess in stealing electricity. In the face of day-long power-cuts, he runs illegal connections from one neighborhood to another so that homes, factories and businesses are not left in the dark. Meanwhile, the city administration is renewing its efforts to clamp down on power-theft, which costs them millions of rupees in losses each year. Annual drives to remove illegal connections are met with anger and street protests. Through this conflict, a picture emerges of a modern dystopia, encompassing urban decay and desperation over the lack of electricity. Underlying the localized crisis in Kanpur, is the glaring energy poverty in India, where a third of the population is bereft of this most basic need, and the remainder grapple with power-cuts that dictate their own terms. [Powerless] puts a lens to an unexplored narrative of one of the world’s fastest developing economies.
Director's Note
In many ways Kanpur is at a frontline of globalization, and is a microcosm of the infrastructure problems that India faces today. I was born in Chamanganj, Kanpur. As a child, my memories of Kanpur are predominantly of long, uncomfortable, water-less summers, spent without electricity. Upon subsequent visits as an adult, it became clear how much the lack of electricity affected all aspects of life with livelihoods, income and health at stake. The energy crisis in India finds resonance in global issues such as climate change and corporate social responsibility. While there are villages in India that have no electricity whatsoever, in Kanpur one can distinctly visualize how the lack of energy heightens poverty and depravity.
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