Asian Cinema Fund 2018

2011 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund

Project In God’s Land
Category DMZ Fund
Project In God’s Land
Director Pankaj Rishi KUMAR
Country India
Director's Profile Pankaj graduated from Pune's FTII (1992), and specialized in Film Editing. After editing documentaries and TV serials, he made his first film [Kumar Talkies]. Subsequently, Pankaj has become a one-man-crew, producing, directing, shooting and editing his own feature-length documentaries. ([Pather Chujaeri], [The Vote], [Gharat], [3 Men and a Bulb], [Punches n Ponytails], and [Seeds of Dissent]). Pankaj’s films have won many awards and been screened at festivals all over the world, including at Berlin, Rotterdam, IDFA, Gothenburg, Yamagata, Busan and Visions du Reel. He was a TA at the first Asian Film Academy (Busan). He has won grants from Hubert Bals, IFA, Jan Vrijman, Gothenburg, Banff, Majlis and Sarai. Pankaj was awarded an Asia Society fellowship at Harvard Asia Centre (2003). He also works as a film curator and teacher.
Centuries ago, six nomad families transformed dry land into wet farmlands. Impressed, the Nizam gifted the lands as ‘Inam’ (gift) to the people. During British Rule, the Vanmamalai Temple controlled by Brahmins became the legal owners of the land and the villagers’ mere tenant farmers. The temple practiced an oppressive caste system. Five years ago, moved by commercial greed, the temple secretly sold the farmlands to the Government for an EZ (Special Economic Zone). For the temple it was a religious call, ‘welfare of society at large’. It claimed it had sold only ‘dry’ land. If the Vanmamalai Temple represents the ‘old’ power structure which oppressed the villagers, the SEZ (a Deemed Foreign Territory) is just another ‘new’ – ‘globalised’ – ‘development’ jingoism which the villagers have to fight. The only solace for them is the myriad questions they ask their God Sudalai Swami who promises to protect them…
Director's Note
In recent years, in my documentaries ([Gharat], [3 Men and a Bulb], [Seeds of Dissent]), I’ve been exploring the implications of developmental polices on people’s lives. Often, these policies don’t make dramatic changes but rather get translated as ‘processes’ unwrapping themselves in villagers’ everyday lives. The changes are slow, oblivious but impending threats to livelihood, culture and ones identity. The new SEZ policy of the Indian government envisages the shift from a primarily agrarian economy to an industrialized economy, and letting the free market be the decision-maker of labor's worth. I wonder, what will happen to the farmer, his hopes, aspirations and his desire to continue farming? The village of Inam Alangulam bears the brunt of that greed. The village represents the story of several other villages in India deemed powerless, but yet still putting up a fight.
Still Cut