Saurav Vishnu’s award-winning documentary short “Tailing Pond” is being expanded into a six-part documentary series with the involvement of “Sex and the City” actor Cynthia Nixon.
Nixon narrated the documentary short, which investigates the horrifying effects of uranium extraction on the health of the indigenous population of Jadugora, Jharkhand in East India, where thousands of children are falling ill and dying from radioactive waste pollution. The film was shot in Jadugora over five years and explores the impact on health and human rights and how the villagers are living amid the situation.
The documentary series will follow 12 new families in Jadugora who are suffering due to radioactive poisoning.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, and I would, of course, want to be involved,” Nixon told Variety. “Anything that I can do to bring attention and to get the word out, I would want to be there for.”
Tailing ponds are water bodies that store ‘tailings’ or unusable extracts from mining operations which are usually highly toxic or radioactive. There are nine such ponds in Jadugora filled with tailings from a nearby uranium mining facility with hundreds of families living around it. Vishnu, who is from Jharkhand, has made it his mission to bring the plight of the villagers to the attention of India and the world.
“One only has to watch the film to need to do anything in one’s power to bring attention to the situation and try and bring help and relief to the families that are suffering from terrible radiation poisoning and whose lives and community has been completely destroyed,” says Nixon about the documentary short.
“This is one of the powerful things that art — and film in particular — can do: Go to the places where the suffering and the terror, [and] horrible events, are happening to people, and film them and interview them and show the world, because this has been going on for decades now,” adds Nixon. “And there has been no relief and no attention. If people understood what was happening and if the Indian government was forced to take responsibility, then things would change and could change quickly.”
Vishnu says the ruling party and opposition parties in India need to be made aware of the issue. “If we can address the issue in a way that results in [bringing] relief to those people, then India can be looked upon as a winner in terms of the international community,” says the director.
Meanwhile, “Tailing Pond” will be brought to further global attention thanks to short film network ShortsTV who are exclusively distributing the film worldwide, with a premiere set for Nov. 20. In the U.S., the film will be available on ShortsTV and DirectTV and in the U.K. on the ShortsTV channel on Amazon Prime Video, as well as RakutenTV and Samsung TV Plus.
In India, it will be available on the ShortsTV channel on Tata Sky, Dish TV, d2h, Airtel Digital TV, Prime Video and on the Airtel Xstreme app. In addition, it will be available across Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
“We are proud to join forces with Cynthia Nixon and the makers of ‘Tailing Pond’ to bring this important issue to light and showcase it across our global platform,” said ShortsTV CEO and founder Carter Pilcher. “We made a promise at ShortsTV to provide a platform for bold, passionate filmmakers, so it is wonderful to see a world-class short documentary emerge from India, beautifully addressing a critical issue with global impact.”
“These are just the kind of filmmakers and stories ShortsTV is in India to develop and promote. We asked India to give us captivating stories about universal issues and their filmmakers are rising to the challenge,” Pilcher added.
Nixon will next be seen in “Sex and the City” revival “And Just Like That,” which bows Dec. 9 on HBO Max.
“I’m excited about it, and we have most of the old people back but a lot of new people in it, including amazing Indian-American actor Sarita Choudhury,” Nixon said about the show, not revealing any further details as she is “sworn to secrecy.”