My film and radio work broadly addresses the inherent tensions of modernisation in India, through interpretation of cultural and gender issues, ritual, religion, the arts and self-expression.
My films can broadly be said to focus on transformation – of spiritual expression, identity, belonging, finding one’s own swadharma or unique purpose – through processes that may be figurative, spiritual or temporal. My films foreground subjects’ own voices, and support their own framings. They are created as ‘passion projects’ on small budgets outside conventional funding models, to enable creative freedom.
A Bride of Aravan, 15mins drama-documentary film, 2019
A contemporary hero’s journey with gender-bending, spiritual, traditional and modern elements.
A Life Exposed: Robyn Beeche, 28/52mins documentary, 2013
Info | A Life Exposed page / A Life Exposed website
Festivals | Sheffield, FIFA Montreal, Byron Bay, WOW Festival, Films on Art Portugal
Awards | Australian Arts in Asia Awards 2013 (Finalist); WOW Festival Awards 2014 (Winner, Best documentary, Best Editing); ATOM Awards 2014 (Finalist).
Australian-born photographer Robyn Beeche became renowned in London for her iconic 80s images. In a time rich with experimentation and creativity, she was celebrated for her ground-breaking photographs of painted bodies, and collaborations with counter-culture personalities Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood, Leigh Bowery and Divine. At the peak of her career, Beeche was transformed when she experienced the Indian colour-throwing festival of Holi. “Drawn like a magnet”, she gave up her high-flying career for the life-changing move to the Indian pilgrimage town of Vrindavan. 25 years later, she continues to document the area’s vibrant traditions as spiritual service, and her extensive archive is prized by international scholars.
Shack Life, 55min documentary, 2014
A community’s battle for recognition of its distinctly Australian heritage
Shack Life depicts the unique shack communities in the Royal National Park south of Sydney. Established in the 1930s as places where people survived the rigours of the Depression, the shacks have been handed down through generations from the original builders, and the weekend communities continue to thrive against all odds. For decades, authorities challenged the rights of the ‘shackies’, and tore down many shacks. The fiercely proud community resolved to fight. They instigated a legal case and fought for formal recognition of their living heritage – winning a twenty-year reprieve to stay in their shacks. Through a lively mix of archival materials and ‘shackie’ interviewees – from miners to artists Margaret Olley and Reg Mombassa – Shack Life portrays one community’s struggle for recognition of their emotional connection to land, and the heritage value of a rapidly disappearing way of life.
Mogadishu Dreaming, 9min documentary, 2010
A painter’s struggle to reconcile memories of his homeland Somalia
Film Festivals: Vancouver International Film Festival 2010, Sheffield International Documentary Fest 2010, Queer Lisboa 2010, Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival 2012.
Mogadishu Dreaming depicts painter Ahmed Hagi’s struggle to reconcile his idealised memories of his homeland Somalia with its disintegration. Through his vivid paintings that mesh Mogadishu and Sydney landscapes, Hagi processes his own displacement by creating an imaginary world that celebrates the best of both cultures, whilst alluding to brutal political upheavals and Hagi’s personal traumas of migration, racism and illness.
Woman Power, 20min documentary, 2003.
Village women’s empowerment programme, India
My radio documentaries feature dense aural landscapes, and focus on the friction between the old and new, across the spheres of culture, religious expression, gender relations and the arts. As the introduction to my freeform audio piece India Crush: The modern subcontinent as audio adventure suggests: “With a bindi for every guest, we weave through the material and psychic crush of contemporary urban India, visiting dowry wars, beauty pageants, slums, vulva temples, and million-dollar novels. As the globalised goddess emerges, the pressures intensify on space, infrastructure, and identity. We also follow the monsoonal tide of Bollywood, and its overflow into transnational spaces.”
Some of my favourite audio pieces are listed below.
India Crush: Contemporary India as audio adventure
The Night Air, 24mins. 2007
Aghoris: Death, Decay, Pollution, Enlightenment
Encounter, 48mins. 2006
Rent Raj: Housing in Bombay
Street Stories, 29mins. 2007
Water Wars: The battle to privatize water in India”
Background Briefing, 48mins. 2006
Death and Dharma: Dying in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition
Encounter, 48mins. 2007
Your Divine is Within You: Challenges to contemporary Sufism in India.
Encounter, 54 mins. 2012.
Defying Dowry: Resistance to buying a bridegroom in India
Street Stories, 29mins. 2003
The Big Business of Beauty in India
Street Stories, 29mins. 2003
Sexuality in the Subcontinent: through the eyes of four Indian documentary-makers
The Deep End, 16mins. 2005
Black Breasts/White Milk: the politics of breastfeeding in Central Australia
Life Matters, 15mins. 2002