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IDFA is presenting East Side Stories (documentaries from India)

As part of the parallel Amsterdam India Festival, IDFA is presenting a program it calls East Side Stories, featuring 17 contemporary documentaries from India. This unique look at the emerging documentary movement in one of Asia's most complex and thriving cultures offers a rare look at different aspects of this fascinating region, a country in transition trying to balance its age-old traditions with its new status of economic development and increased international clout.

However, the economic development that has given rise to a consumer class inthe country has also brought up uncomfortable issues of human rights and civic freedoms. The independent documentary movement in India has taken decades to become respected and seen as a relevant media (as opposed to government or television-sponsored pieces that pulled their punches). It was the group around documentary maker Anand Patwardhan that first publically highlighted the social and political unrest of the 1970s and 80s. This made these documentary makers, including Deepa Dhanraj and Ranjan Palit, the voice of an intelligent and provocative opposition.

The documentaries in this special program show various side of a country full of conflicts, religious intolerance, terrorist attacks, interesting and unusual characters. Rajesh Jala’s award-winning documentary Children of the Pyre, for example, deals with Indian children working in the biggest crematorium on earth. Arvind Sinha’s King of India, also screening in the Joris Ivens Competition, is a remarkable visual poem about a family of street artists in Kolkata, and their struggle to survive.

The Amsterdam India Festival takes place from 12 through 30 November. The festival will show a spectacular and broad cultural range of music, dance, film, photography, theatre, visual art, architecture, fashion and multimedia. A large number of cultural institutes, including the Concertgebouw and Van Gogh Museum , will attempt to show the richness and diversity of India.

For the entire program, visit
Watch the trailer

Sandy Mandelberger, IDFA Dailies Editor
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