2008, Documentary, Dv, 60min., stereo
During a traveling journey in India I stepped into the stories of the S.E.W.A. associates. The biggest union for informal women workers in India, such as, bidi makers, carpenters, paper pickers, vegetables street seller, head loaders. The informal economy, in which women are the majority, totals the 93% of the national indian economy.
Women join S.E.W.A.'s union and grassroot movement to get basic education, to receive training on their rights, and be able to built, often from scratch, their own profession. Full time programs are offered to improve their skills as well as their overall lives and their role in society, through individual and group self reliance. Furthermore to develop skills to then become policy makers at local and national levels.
Through the women protagonists we witness the importance of practical cooperation and care in the self employment sector in times of global financial crisis in which these concepts and practices are striving to develop and expand.
Through the words of the protagonists of different ages, most of whom formerly illiterate, we follow the parabolic personal struggles to manage one’s own quality of life in trades and matters such as artisanal and industrial fashion, banking and debt, child care, education, video production, insurance, community outreach and nonetheless self reliance.
The documentary narrative developed from the personal encounters I had with the women portrayed. The misunderstandings, the language barriers and the vice versa exoticisms happening during the shooting, between me the western filmmaker and the indian women interviewed, were kept as part of the narration.
The visual style of the work draws inspiration from the Bollywood imagery and the iconic hindu pantheon. Since, for what they live through in practical every day life and narrate herein, the women protagonists have an epic aura as real contemporary heroines.
The footage is part of The Peripatetic Film & Video collection.
with Pratbha Pandya, Jyotsana Sagara, S.E.W.A. Associates
produced by Carola Spadoni