An Interview with Anupama Srinivasan (Director)
Witness the Spirit of Children
Q: I found this to be an extremely honest work. The manner in which you speak in the film is very gentle, revealing problems and assertions bit by bit. The voices and faces of the children remained vividly in my mind after the film was over. In the YIDFF catalog it describes the film as making “itself as it goes along under your gaze.” Yet the finished film seems to have a different image.
AS: The original theme of “education” did not change. However, the completed film may have ended up containing more negative subject matter. Nonetheless, I wanted to avoid criticizing the government or education system. What I tried to do was make a film that looked for the positive within the chaos. Ultimately I didn’t find it in the schools but in the spirit of the children seen outside.
Q: So the three places the film takes place made strong impressions on you?
AS: I chose those places because I had been to them before and liked them. One is close to the ocean, another is in the mountains and the other in the desert. While they do differ geographically and culturally, were you really able to distinguish them while watching the movie? It’s shot in various places but the atmosphere is the same. I think I was able to express universal feelings about education across India.
Q: When the children are in school their expressions and behavior are clearly stiff but you depict their sense of freedom when they’re outside as something positive.
AS: Exactly. Why can’t those kids take the freedom they display at the ocean or wherever into the schools? But the children aren’t the ones we should be asking. What was important to me in making this film is for adults to question this and make efforts to build better schools.
Q: I’ve heard that you run filmmaking workshops. Naturally you aim to foster the same kind of “freedom” you’re talking about. Can you speak a little about what you’ve noticed and felt through running the workshops?
AS: It’s a very interesting situation recently. Some of the younger children are really expressing themselves openly in their films. On the other hand, once they turn 18 years old their work begins to lose that sense. As a teacher I try as much as possible not to impose my will on these kids. They can thereby grow by looking at things from their own perspective and gain a wider view of the world. More specifically, this means open communication. Praising when it’s deserved and criticizing when necessary. Working this way step by step, and despite some limitations, I can help them realize what freedom truly is. I also impart that achieving true freedom carries with it responsibility.
Q: What was the audience reaction like? How did you feel about their reaction?
AS: Ultimately it made people question and think about the nature of “education.” What I wanted to achieve with this film wasn’t to solve all the problems but to help people understand them. In that sense, I’m glad I made this film.
(Compiled by Nomura Yukihiro)
Interviewers: Nomura Yukihiro, Masuya Shoko / Interpreter: Goto Taro / Translator: Oliver Dew
Photography: Ishikawa Munetaka / Video: Ito Ayumi / 2009-10-09