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Special Collections

South Asian Studies & South Asian Diaspora


Gurinder Chadha
1992, 30 min., Color, UK
This humorous and thought-provoking film documents the residents of a South Asian home for the elderly in Britain. Director Gurinder Chadha assists the residents in directing their own video. The result is an examination of politics, ageism, and cross-cultural communication in contemporary British society. Interview subjects range from people on the street to Members of Parliament. The film ends with the triumphant screening of the group's completed film.
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Ben Addelman & Samir Malla
Producer: Adam Symansky & National Film Board of Canada
2006, 71 min., Color, India/Canada
Bombay provides American and British outsourcing firms with access to well-educated, English-speaking youths eager to get ahead and willing to sacrifice almost anything to do it. For their efforts, they are paid more money than their parents ever dreamed of earning. And they spend it frequenting a new brand of all-night discos that cater to their unusual office hours. In BOMBAY CALLING, filmmakers Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal dive into this bustling world of late nights, long hours and hard partying. The result is a compelling insider's look at youth culture in India and at the growing number of young people who choose to follow the American dream.
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Austin Allen
1995, 87 min., Color, US
CLAIMING OPEN SPACES explores African-American culture as it clashes with the design of the modern American city. The film includes a comprehensive section on New Orleans--the vital place of historical significance that this city holds, and its role in continuing African American tradition and culture. The film is both a critical examination of the design and histories of American urban open space, as well as a celebration of leisure, recreation and resistance.
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Richard Fung
2012, 80 min., Color, Canada
The recipe for dal puri traveled with indentured workers from India’s Gangetic plain to southern Caribbean colonies of Britain and the Netherlands in the 19th Century. In the 1960s the wrapped roti migrated from Trinidad to North America, where it is known as Caribbean or West Indian roti and is popular in cities like New York and Toronto. As the dish moved from home fire to street stall to restaurant chain, and from festival to fast food, the flatbread was radically transformed in ingredients, cooking method, ways of eating and identity. Shot in Toronto, Trinidad and India, this documentary tracks dal puri’s remarkable passage across space and time, linking colonialism, migration and the globalization of tastes.
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Kevin Lee
Producer: Third World Newsreel
2005, 12 min., Color, US
A restaurant owner beaten. A policeman fired. A 20 year subway conductor born in the U.S., threatened with job loss: All for wearing the signature turbans of their religion, Sikhism. Since 9/11, hate crimes and job losses have plagued the Sikh-American community, whose religion originated in India, and is not even Islamic. In response, the NYC Sikh community has organized to confront the bias and attacks, through legal suits, pressure on city officials and proactive public education. An excellent introduction to an often misunderstood religion and the success of community activism.
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Vibha Bakshi
Producer: Vibha Bakshi & Maryann De Leo
2013, 45 min., Color, India
DAUGHTERS OF MOTHER INDIA reveals the aftermath of the horrific rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi in December 2012. For weeks, mass protests filled the streets of India and the country witnessed gender consciousness and extraordinary solidarity by ordinary citizens—like never before. The eyes of the world were on the country’s rampant gender violence, and stories about violence against women in India were hitting the world’s headlines almost on a daily basis.
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Balvinder Dhenjan
1996, 46 min., Color, US/UK
Shot in Chicago and London this energetic documentary follows three very different Punjabi bands and their attempts to use their music as a bridge between the competing cultural influences of India and America. They face and deal with racism, discover both Desi sex and Desi sexism, look for role models and confront politics, history, religion, and their own multiple heritages.
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Nashid Fareed
Producer: Third World Newsreel
2001, 11 min., Color, US
A dialogue between two unlikely historical interlocutors is set against a compelling collection of images that situate the horror of recent events within the context of foreign policy, popular mobilization and a desire for a the possibility of a non-violent resistance to the war in Afghanistan.
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Gurinder Chadha
1989, 30 min., Color, UK
This unique look at Asians in Britain offers first-hand views of second generation Asians, adding archival footage and invigorating Bhangra and Bangla music--traditional Punjabi songs updated with hip-hop and house music influences. From Manchester rooftops to embattled Belfast and the Welsh hills, Asians discuss the importance of expanding "Britishness" to include all kinds of cultural identities. They present different view-points on the roles that race and cultural identity play in their own lives and in British society as a whole.
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Robert Crusz
Producer: Sankofa Film and Video Collective
1992, 25 min., Color, UK
"When I was a child in Sri Lanka, my father encouraged me to consider everything European and Western to be of greater value than things Asian and Eastern...I arrived in England with great excitement and anticipation expecting to be received as one of the family.." INBETWEEN is a testament to the empowerment inherent in the exploration of both self and personal/national histories through the constant interrogation and redefinition of identity that lead to a new sense of political awareness. This personal film uses narrative and documentary techniques to present the filmmaker's sense of an identity that is both part and outside of two cultures.
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Prem Kalliat
1990, 25 min., Color
This video offers a profile of a transsexual and her community in the Indian city of Bangalore. It provides a unique insight into the lives of Hijdas, a society of eunuchs numbering in the tens of thousands who have thrived in India for centuries. The Hijdas work as prostitutes and are a close-knit group who live and work communally. Jareena, who assumes the role of a man when she visits her family, explains this duality and how the Hijdas helped her form her identity and assert her true self.
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Sedika Mojadidi
2000, 46 min., Color, US/Afghanistan
KABUL KABUL documents the filmmaker's journey back to Afghanistan after a 23 year absence. She recounts her struggle to reconcile the different levels of loss that many like her have experienced from the war. Her piece wrestles with the irreconcilable impulses of memory, home, representation, loss, and desire in the face of a 10 year occupation and civil war that has left Afghanistan and its people devastated.
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Sandeep Ray
1994, 45 min., Color
This moving documentary follows the filmmaker's cousin's imminent departure from India to pursue studies in the U.S. Torn between familial and national loyalties and her desire to travel and experience profoundly personal freedoms this film captures one young woman's embarkation into the world outside what she has known.
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Jason DaSilva
2003, 80 min., Color, US
Through critical lenses, this film explores a lesson that history has forgotten in a country that is alienating its citizens and violating their basic rights. During World War II it was Japanese-Americans, now it is brown skin, Muslims and people of Arabic and South Asian descent. Can America survive this perpetration of gross injustices yet again? This documentary follows the events post-9/11, examining the roundups and racial attacks that continue to occur in the name of national security. The film contains stories told by individuals who have felt the severity of wartime racism in America and explores the sullied past in the hopes of creating lessons for a different future.
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Siraj Jhaveri
1994, 30 min., Color
When your parents hate each other -- how do you learn to love? This award-winning, personal chronicle's the relationship between the filmmaker's Muslim father and Hindu mother --exploring their forbidden relationship in India, their elopement and eventual separation. Jhaveri interviews his reluctant subjects in the United States and travels to India to try and unfold the conditionalities of love and commitment.
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Aparna Talaulicar
1999, 30 min., Color, US
"Maid to Stay" is the story of four South Asian Women domestic workers in New York. Elizabeth has been sent back to India because her employers discover she's been talking to a women's group about how badly she's being treated. Shahida has escaped from trouble back home in Bangladesh and cannot return, but longs to do so. She doesn't like the work or being in the U.S. but must stay on. Nahar has been in exploitative work situations and now organizes other women like her. Gurbachan has fought and won legal battles against her former employers.
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Gurinder Chadha
1990, 11 min., Color, UK
Set in the London home of an Indian family on the morning of their daughter's wedding, this film is a wry depiction of one of the most central of Indian traditions -- the arranged marriage. As the young Hindu bride, Meena, changes into her bridal sari, her divorced friend, Sita, helps with her clothing and her resolve. Together, the two women examine their different life choices -- Meena's decision to marry the "perfect" choice for her parents both clashes with and compliments Sita's choice to end her marriage.
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Balvinder Dhenjan
1996, 4 min., Color
An impressionistic and experimental short which looks at the images that present themselves "glittering behind glass" when you go window shopping in Little India.
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Konrad Aderer
Producer: Third World Newsreel Call for Change
2005, 11 min., Color, US
As part of the Homeland security measures, immigrant men from 25, mostly Muslim countries were required to enroll in a Special Registrationprogram. The result: no evidence of terror, but some 13,000 people are now being deported mostly for expired visas. The Alams were among the many families who believed that voluntarily participating in the Special Registrationwould show their loyalty. Instead, they face the prospect of breaking up their family, despite a decade of hard work and the raising of two children. Working with DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), the Queens South Asian activist group, the Alams have become activists, organizing to fight for their right to stay.
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Ricardo Lobo
2003, 50 min., Color, US
THE SISTERS OF LADAKH is an inquiry into the feminine vision of Buddhism. Filmed on location in Ladakh, on the Himalayan border between India and Tibet, this one hour documentary features stunning photography and compelling testimonies of Tibetan nuns. THE SISTERS OF LADAKH documents their daily activities in an intimate and candid way, encompassing both their religious practices and the interaction with local communities. The nuns also discuss the condition and role of women in Buddhism, the current efforts to overcome gender prejudices and the challenges that lie ahead to build a compassionate world both at the local and global levels.
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Pooja Rangan
2006, 9 min., Color, India/US
In 2005, 8 feet of rain fell in Bombay, India in one day. This poetic piece highlights the resilience of the impoverished neighborhoods of this ancient city that were most affected, and how people survive and thrive, despite the lack of government assistance.
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Vivek Renjen Bald
1996, 49 min., Color, US
This documentary focuses on the lives and dreams of South Asian immigrant taxi drivers in New York City. Combining video and taxi-driver interviews and the personal narrative of the second-generation bi-racial, Indian-American video maker, TAXI-VALA looks at the complexities of migration, displacement, economic empowerment and the pursuit of the elusive "American dream" within New York's growing South Asian communities.
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Christina Choe
2000, 25 min., Color
TURMERIC BORDER-MARKS is an experimental documentary set in modern Seoul, Korea, where an intersection becomes two stories of migration, globalization, hybrid identity, cracked mirrors and turmeric (a yellow spice powder). A young Korean-American college student voyages back to the motherland where she meets South Asian migrant workers. These parallel stories illuminate and question our assumptions of identity and culture, as well as power and resistance. Through interviews, poems, super-8 imagery, and a bizarre Bangladesh wedding scene over a speaker phone, we witness a changing world, and a twist to the word "post-modern".
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Janice Ahn
2006, 8 min., Color, US
In the months prior to 9-11, an Afghan woman named Samira Rahman narrowly escapes from the Taliban, losing her family. After settling down in Long Island and beginning a new family, Samira is taken away by Homeland Security agents in the middle of the night. Her husband Abdul, who runs a coffee cart in South Ferry, and their two young boys await news of her fate.
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Ellie Bernstein
Producer: Tony Grocki
2009, 68 min., Color, US
Were these two Muslim men who had no prior criminal history set-up to appear as criminals or were they possible terrorists?
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Yun Jong Suh
Producer: Third World Newsreel
2001, 12 min., Color, US
This short is a poignant and revealing document of the thoughts, hopes and fears of Muslim, Arab-American and South Asian children in the milieu of a country calling for war and unconditional compliance after the events of September 11th. Anxiety gives way to determination and perseverance as each of the children refuse to submit to popular sentiment and prejudice.
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Balvinder Dhenjan
Producer: Third World Newsreel
1994, 12 min., Color, US
An insightful and hilarious account of one immigrant Indian man's attempt to come to grips with American pop culture and "Westernized" Indian women. A TWN Workshop Production.
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Gurinder Chadha
1994, 19 min., BW, UK
What do you call an Indian woman who's funny in 20th Century Britain? A British performer? A Black comedienne? An enigma? This humorous and comedic documentary, brings the laughs and dreams of four Indian women cabaret performers while posing the questions: What is comedy and who defines it? Is it culturally specific, or can anyone enjoy the joke? Who makes it into the mainstream and why? Does comedy always have to come from a white perspective in Britain to be taken seriously? What -- ultimately, do you call a funny Indian woman?
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Sedika Mojadidi
Producer: Third World Newsreel
2002, 12 min., Color, US
An experimental portrait of an Afghan woman in Los Angeles in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center and the war in Afghanistan. Exploring the relationships between image and voice, trauma and memory, the piece focuses on an interview with Zulaikha Wardak, an Afghan shopkeeper who shares her reactions to the bombings and her own memories of war in Kabul.
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