Platform Sessions #1: Kinshuk SurjanTue 19 Nov 2019
Brussels Arts Platform and Pilar invite:
Kinshuk Surjan is an Indian documentary maker. His graduation project, De Flandrien, was awarded the VAF Wildcard in 2017. Earlier, Surjan also won the National Student Film Award at Pune with the documentary Pola, a short film on the high suicide rates among farmers in India from the point of view of a kid who fears becoming an orphan like his friends in the village. For the past decade, over 15,000 farmers in India have been taking their own lives each year. Official numbers are lacking since the government has stopped publishing any data since 2016, fearing a backlash. The cycle of chemical farming, climate change, crop failure leading to multiplying debts usually attributes to the cause of suicides. Pola raised many important questions but also left many unanswered. In his current PhD at the VUB and RITCS school of Arts, the documentary maker investigates whether a film can also initiate change processes itself.
What can I do as a filmmaker? Must I only lament the suicides?
In his research, Surjan departs from the women who continue their lives after the suicide of their husbands. The women who are left behind often do not have the time to mourn... Even if they take on the heavy labor of sowing, threshing, harvesting, and plowing, they do not get any right over property or land after the death of their husbands. They are not recognized as farmers in a very patriarchal society in which the care for children and grandparents is also considered as "natural".
Why is it that despite the same pressure these women hardly commit suicide? Is poverty the only reason? Or is it an issue of mental health and a lack of resources to access it?
Together with local psychologist Dr. Potdar, Surjan started a pilot network with the help of 20 farmers' widows from different villages. The film thus becomes a bridge to bring together the doctor, female widows and the local authorities. During these platform sessions, a 30-minute video is shown of some key moments of the training/counseling sessions that have taken place in recent months.
About Platform Sessions
Platform Sessions offer doctoral students in the Arts the opportunity to show their research process to an audience at the crossroads between art and science.
Brussels Arts Platform
The Arts Platform forms the joint research environment of the VUB and the Schools of Arts of the EhB, the environment in which doctorates in the arts of excellent quality are delivered.