Two films featured bamboo. The one from Bangladesh, Bamboo Story, won the main trophy at FSA 2019. A multi-layered ethnographic study using outstanding cinematography, the film provides empathy and respect for an unnoticed floating population shuttling between a forest and an urban jungle. The other bamboo film from Nepal, Winter Tap, co-winner in the student category, is a small-is-beautiful tale of how not to waste resources in the process of accessing water in a remote mountain village.
The festival closed with a screening of two films, one about a rooster running amok in a Mumbai household’s small flat, and the other featuring four dog-loving eccentrics in Kolkata. The humans who adopt them exist precariously, whether on the cusp of life and death, sanity and madness, or crammed in cages and tethered to things they cannot fathom.
Pariah Dog cleaves into the underbelly of Kolkata, to show a world where people live isolated, desperate lives. Those caring for community dogs are doing so as much to assuage their consciences as to address a yearning for companionship, purpose and recognition in a world fast atomizing into anonymity, where they themselves may be considered pariah. Tungrus is darkly comic as it traces the fate of a handsome broiler rooster who seemingly has it good, ruling the roost and terrorising the family. His fate is painfully bleak, in a scene at once comical and horrific.
Life and art are one. Art exists only with life and life thrives only with art. Film South Asia 2019 was a documentary feast where the mind could thankfully still be free.
Read Also: Film South Asia travels back, Nepali Times