×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
SPONSORED

Freed by the Camera

Self-taught filmmaker Rima Das found empowerment by creating ‘Village Rockstars’

In a small village in Assam, India, we meet our protagonist, Dhunu, a free-spirited 10-year-old girl with a Styrofoam guitar, playing a song of hope. Undeterred by life’s challenges, Dhunu dreams of starring in her own rock band — except with a real guitar.

The onscreen journey of “Village Rockstars’” protagonist embodies the real-life journey of Rima Das, the director. A self-taught filmmaker working with few resources and no budget or star power, Das is the rock star behind the film.

Das originally envisioned a film about young boys she met at a local village festival in her home state of Assam. They were playing fake instruments with such joy that it hardly seemed to matter that they didn’t have the resources to buy real ones.

“But as I began to shoot,” remembers Das, “I noticed Bhanita Das [Rima’s young cousin, who went on to play Dhunu]. She would climb trees and run around with the boys. I saw myself in her and, suddenly, it hit me: She was the story.”

At a time when women are still considered the “weaker sex,” Dhunu and her mother are an embodiment of feminine strength. They stand up, in their own way, to everything life throws at them, from poverty to floods.

Rima Das says the inspiration for her film was the idea that “Children can dream regardless of their background.” She notes the children’s innocence and reverence for nature guided her through the making of her film.

Fueled by little except her dream and a Canon 5D Mark II camera, she looked at the whole film as a painting. She shot in real-life conditions with non-actors. The film looks natural and the performances are realistic because the young actors allowed Das to train them under the blue sky. Although the story was scripted, Das didn’t compromise on incorporating moments from their daily lives, or on capturing the beauty of the land.

Besides directing, she was producer, writer, cinematographer, production designer, costume designer and film editor, learning all of these skills on her own.
It took four years to complete “Village Rockstars.” Since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film has traveled to more than 80 festivals and received over 50 awards.

Audiences and critics have been effusive. The film has been praised for its theme of female empowerment and self-actualization. It received India’s highest cinematic honor, the National Film Award for best feature film, and now is India’s official 2018 entry for the Academy Award for foreign language film.

“There are many things as women we feel scared to speak about,” says Das. “But with the camera in my hand I felt empowered, I felt liberated. I could tell the story of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. I could tell the story of women who are in charge of their own world.

“I could tell a story that was my own and yet could resonate with audiences around the world.”

More Biz

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Rejects ATA Offer, Seeks Individual Talks With 9 Top Agencies

    The Writers Guild of America has called off negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents in favor of pursuing individual talks with nine top agencies as it enforces a total ban on packaging fees and affiliated production for agents representing guild members. WGA West president David Goodman announced the guild’s decision to reject the ATA’s [...]

  • Harry Ponsonby and Diane Kamin

    Hollywood’s National Research Group Expands Into Asia (EXCLUSIVE)

    Media research and testing firm National Research Group is this month to open its first office in Asia. The new unit will be located in Singapore and eventually operate across a widely-defined version of Asia Pacific that includes mainland China, Japan and India. Best known for its behind the scenes role in pre-release testing of [...]

  • Jim Gosnell

    APA Claims Texts Were Fabricated in Lurid Sex Harassment Suit

    A former assistant at APA filed a lurid sexual harassment complaint on Wednesday alleging that a partner at the firm sent her graphic text messages and threatened to have her fired when she refused his advances. The assistant, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, alleges that top management fostered a “toxic, pervasive and [...]

  • Logic Launches BobbyBoy Records as Joint

    Logic Launches BobbyBoy Records as Joint Venture With Def Jam

    Grammy-nominated rapper Logic — aka Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, aka Bobby Hall —has announced a joint venture with Def Jam Recordings for his new label, BobbyBoy Records, which was formerly known as Elysium Records. The imprint’s initial artist roster is comprised of singer-songwriter John Lindahl, Damian Lemar Hudson (featured on “Black Spiderman,” from Logic’s RIAA platinum 2017 album, “Everybody”); Big Lenbo (featured on two previous Logic albums); [...]

  • Shari Redstone Joe Ianniello

    Shari Redstone, Joe Ianniello in Spotlight as CBS and Viacom Pursue Merger Talks Again

    As CBS Corp. nears a formal acquisition offer for Viacom, the actions of two key players — controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and acting CBS CEO Joe Ianniello — will be closely watched in the coming weeks. Redstone’s moves are under scrutiny because of the potential for litigation surrounding a deal that some have criticized as [...]

  • In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant

    Nxivm Founder Keith Raniere Convicted of Sex Trafficking

    Keith Raniere, the founder of the Nvixm sex cult, was convicted on racketeering and sex trafficking charges on Wednesday. The jurors deliberated for about five hours before returning with guilty verdicts on all seven counts, including racketeering and forced labor conspiracy charges. He is set to be sentenced on Sept. 25, and faces the possibility [...]

  • CAA HQ LA

    WGA Lawsuit Put on Slow Track in Blow to Union

    A judge on Wednesday ruled that the Writers Guild of America lawsuit against the major talent agencies is a “complex” case, likely postponing the day when it would get to trial. CAA and WME asked the court last week to make the designation, arguing that it will involve unusual legal theories and a review of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content