Baaram, Walking With The Wind nominated for ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal

Priya Krishnaswamy’s Tamil film Baaram and Praveen Morchhale’s Ladakhi film Walking With The Wind (2017) are among the 12 films nominated for the ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal. Both the films are part of the Indian Panorama section of the ongoing 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

IFFI has collaborated with International Council for Film, Television and Audio-Visual Communication (ICFT) Paris to present the ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal to a film that best reflects Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals of peace, tolerance and non-violence. The award will be announced at the closing ceremony of IFFI on Tuesday (28 November).

Baaram is a 92-minute film about the social practice of Thalaikoothan, meaning cold bath, a euphemism for mercy killing. Remarkably, the practice in which different ways are used to put to rest elderly family members has social sanction. It follows the story of an old man Karuppaswamy and his sudden death after an accident in which his hip is injured.

Speaking to us about the film, Krishnaswamy said, “We operate from fear now, and that fear is also a vulnerability. So when we laugh, we are vulnerable and we don’t want to be. When we were researching this we found there are 26 documented ways to kill. It goes from poison injections, pesticides and tablets mixed into tea. They [the elderly] are asking to be killed. We don’t want to be connected now. The 26 ways to kill is like a grayscale, you go from white to black cinematically. We can mathematically calibrate how much fear and dissonance is there now. When we talk about selfishness, lack of money, etc., it’s all about fear.”

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Priya Krishnaswamy. Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Krishnaswamy is a senior film editor who made her directorial debut with Gangoobai produced by NFDC in 2013.

Walking With The Wind is based in Ladakh and follows the journey of a young boy who tries to fix his friend’s chair which he had accidentally broken.

The film has received great critical praise and has won the National Film Award for Best Film (Ladakhi), National Award for Best Sound Design, Best Film award at Tertio Millennio Film Festival 2017, and has been screened at several national and international film festivals.

Speaking to us earlier this year about his inspiration for the film, Morchhale had said, “Many a times we observe life and realize the many impressionable moments in it. So, for me it was about observing these people [of Ladakh] represented in the film. We should tell a story where the protagonist is doing the right thing. Everybody has a good or a bad part in life and there is some kind-heartedness in all of us. We are not perfect beings. So, when we do something wrong, the question is that who is responsible for repairing that wrong. The chair is the central metaphor in the film about the idea that we have to take the initiative to repair what breaks by our own intended or unintended wrongdoing.”

Praveen Morchhale. Photo: Shutterbugs Images

The other competing films are Swedish film Border (2018), Lebanese film Capernaum (2018), Russian film Dovlatov (2018), Finnish film Laugh Or Die (2018), French film Los Silencious (2018), Syrian film Rains of Homs (2017), Slovak film The Interpreter (2018), Belgian-French film The Mercy Of The Jungle (2018), South Korean film The Rib (2018) and Hungarian film The Silent Revolution (2018).

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