The experience of making The Miracle Water Village has been a great journey for us! Our relationship with the village of Hiware Bazar started sometime in October 2009, when we were researching on rural communities that have worked on water conservation. Over the course of our research and production of the film, we happened to visit the village many times – meeting men, women and children for whom, water conservation has literally become a way of life.
Hiware Bazar is not merely a name – it’s both a symbol and a phenomenon. Tucked away in the parched landscape of Maharashtra, this small village is emblematic of the problem and solution to water management in India. When inspiring leadership and collective efforts take root within a community – what it gives to the world is nothing short of a miracle!
The experience of making the film has been humbling as well as one of unlearning of a lot of assumptions that most city-dwellers have about ideas of ‘development’. There was much more to learn from this typically rural and semi-literate community’s experience than from the expertise of the many scholars that we interacted with through the course of making this film. Through the course of making the film, we interacted with 90-year olds and 9-year olds who shared the same love and commitment for their environment! Stories of drought and despair have been taken over by tales of hope and positive efforts – each voice bearing a testimony to the collective wisdom of an entire village.
The UKEFF gave us the perfect opportunity to tell the story of this rural community that has used the power of its own vision and a bottoms-up approach to solve its water crisis. In the face of imminent consequences of climate change, it is collective community participation, ownership and responsibility of the environment that will make all the difference.
Finally, as filmmakers, the most important concern for us was not to make a film that raised issues of climate change, without providing viable solutions for the same. Now that the film has been shared with a wide spectrum of audiences, the feedback and response that we have received has been extremely heart-warming and encouraging. There has been a huge demand from community leaders and scholars to share copies of The Miracle Water Village in different regional languages that could be shared with more farming communities across India. For us, this where the power of this film lies – to be used as a resource and education tool to affect positive grassroots-level change. The UKEFF has ensured that the success of Hiware Bazar will not just remain a local story but one that can inspire many similar water-thirsty regions across the world!
Post by – © Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas.
The UKEFF 2010 gave me the wonderful opportunity to make a 12-minute film on ‘Climate Change Mitigation in Urban Areas’ – a topic very close to my heart. Most of my films in the past focused on green innovations in the industry sector or in rural areas. To make a film on green interventions in Surat, India’s ninth largest city, was a new challenge I was eagerly looking forward to in the beginning of January 2010. The film was completed in May 2010. The months in between were an exhilarating roller coaster ride. Some of the highs – the thrill of interacting with people in Surat, especially in the municipal corporation and the industry, to understand and visualize the stories, the willing cooperation and enthusiasm of everyone in the city to help with the film, the amazing connectedness of people of Surat – where everyone knows everyone and is just a phone call away, the joy of being in a city that seemed to be doing many things right and of course the food! Having lived in Gujarat for many years, I have grown to love ‘Gujju’ food, even as many of my friends and colleagues cannot fathom how can ‘dal’ be sweet.
Crucial to shaping the film, after the filming was over, were the feedback sessions by the jury of the British Council. To have the film continually assessed by an external audience at every stage of its creation was both new and useful for me. Encouraging, full of ideas (all totally divergent at times!), bringing in new dimensions to the subject, the jury’s feedback would get our heads buzzing and even go numb. The trick was to go back to the drawing board each time and test each idea against the overall theme of the film and see if the idea enhanced the film. I am very grateful for those feedback sessions, as they helped me integrate small details that made my film richer.
The final stage was going public – thanks to the British Council’s active efforts at getting the film ‘seen’. With a TV broadcast, simultaneous screenings in various cities on the World Environment Day and the newspaper publicity, I suddenly got a wee bit nervous as it made me realize how a film takes on a life of its own once it is out there for the audience. The excited phone calls and sms-es made me heave a sigh of relief - “Congrats”, “I think it could do without the graphics”, “Thank you for making me famous – my cousin in Australia saw me on TV”, “I liked the last shot in your film”… As the voices trail off, it feels nice to have made a film which has been seen by many, on a topic that matters to each one of us and. As for me, I now look at every city with fresh eyes – does it have an organized system of garbage collection? Does it have public transport? Does the city do PPP (Public Private Partnerships)? And wish for more stories of urban India to unfold.
Post by – © Madhyama Subramanian.
Following in our fathers ( Naresh Bedi’s) footsteps , my brother Ajay and I also wanted to make a film which could convey the message of conservation to people across. We were delighted when our film concept was approved by British Council and British High Commission for UKEFF fellowship on a new age yet very current subject of climate change.
Our film “Melting Paradise” looks at Kashmir valley in a very different way. The valley has been in the news for its conflict and terror but we wanted to take our camera beyond the battle zone and talk about shrinking water bodies due to climate change. We had many difficulties to begin with, Jammu & Kashmir is not a easy place to film. We were always under surveillance by police or army and even as we filmed we could hear gun shots indicative of encounters which were on in the nearby region. Despite this we could capture Kashmir beauty at its best. We planned our trip in the middle of Kashmir’s coldest season locally called “Chillai Kalan” and we could see that this season had not received the maximum snowfall. While we know that isolated incidents cannot be related to climate change- the people pointed out how this has been happening for many years now. Our most poignant moment of filming was when we entered a mosque and the maulvi was leading a prayer begging the gods to bless the valley with snow. We could see firsthand how climate change is not in the future but now.
There was not much of snow but extreme weather made it difficult on many days to work our cameras. With temperature dipping below freezing point we had to keep our camera warm and take it out only when need to film. Due to the intense cold we also had to keep our batteries warm to ensure they worked properly . Shooting in the wetlands like Dal Lake and Asia’s largest freshwater lake
It was a tough shoot but very redeeming as we got to witness Kashmirs intense beauty come face to face with planet earths worse crisis. We have tried in this film to not paint a dooms-day scenario of the issue of climate change. But rather provide solutions which include preservation of Kashmirs wetlands which act as carbon sinks.
Post by – © Ajay Bedi & Vijay Bedi.
Ajay Bedi & Vijay Bedi are youngest Asian to win Green Oscar.