G.  Rustle of Spring: Faith, Democracy, and Women

Prayers for New Gods

INDIA (Arunachal Pradesh) / 2001 / English / Color / DCP (Original: mini DV) / 28 min

Director, Photography: Moji Riba
Editing: Sanjiv Monga
Research: Centre for Cultural Research & Documentation
Producer: Rajiv Mehrotra
Production Company: Public Service Broadcasting Trust
Source: Moji Riba

Exploring the religious beliefs of tribal groups like the Miji in Arunachal Pradesh today, the fi lm introduces us to the revival of indigenous faiths like Donyi-Polo in re-invented contemporary forms. Traditionally, a set of animistic beliefs and practices allowed people to interpret life and come to terms with a difficult environment. Yet, with a new influx of various faiths, including Christianity and a rising Hindu influence, the tribal society is adapting to demands brought on by a globalized sense of one’s relationship to the divine. Changes in faith practice can be seen to affect shifts in communal identity.

When the Hens Crow

Haba Kynih Ka Syiar Kynthei

INDIA (Meghalaya) / 2012 / Khasi / Color / DCP / 54 min

Director, Photography: Tarun Bhartiya
Editing: Avner Paraiat, Tarun Bhartiya
Narration: Angela Rangad
Production: The Action Northeast Trust
Source: Tarun Bhartiya

Among the matrilineal Khasis, although women carry lineage and inheritance, they are traditionally not allowed to participate in structures of local self-government. Fatima, Acquoline, and Matilda of Jongksha village in the Khasi Hills come together to question the entrenched corrupt structures. The pushback from the village authorities is severe. They are subjected to socio-economic boycott. Traditionally women who speak “out of turn” or question village consensus are seen as threatening, as in the ditty: “When the hens crow / Behead her and throw her head on the roof.” Yet these women refused to be dismissed.

Not Allowed

La Mana

INDIA (Meghalaya) / 2018 / Khasi / Color / DCP / 40 min

Director, Photography: Tarun Bhartiya
Songs: Sambok Mawnai, Freedom Marba Ñiang, D Mc Drumnoc
Aerial Photography: Nathaniel Nampui Majaw
Production: Films Division of India with Samaj, Pragati Sahyog
Source: Tarun Bhartiya

The streets of Shillong are fraught with arguments . . . Is there an existential crisis of the matrilineal hill tribe? A Bihari filmmaker married to a Khasi starts a discussion about “La Mana”—what is not allowed. Are the men of the Indian plains stealing Khasi women’s affections? Will an influx of outsiders and an increase in mixed marriages prove apocalyptic for the indigenous people? Is matrilineality a curse in disguise? Amidst a night filled with rum, music, poetry, local cable TV and social media, the filmmaker explores the marginal multicultural dreams of Khasi society.


The Northeast India AV Archive

On Oct. 10, 2019, The Northeast India AV Archive will be inaugurated under the Department of Mass Media, St. Anthony’s College (Shillong, Meghalaya). The archive will collect and provide public access to documentary films, newsreels, photographs, video interviews, and other materials from the Eastern Himalayan region and Northeast of India. Although blessed in geographic and cultural diversity, decades of political unrest have prevented the region from establishing a repository for its rich audiovisual culture. By collecting, protecting, and sharing the audiovisual culture and heritage of Northeast India, the archive will contribute to constructing the future of societies in this region.

The Northeast India AV Archive URL: https://nearchive.in/