Ambi Jiji’s Retirement

4th November 2010 0 By nandini


Produced by Public Service Broadcast Trust (PSBT)Public Service Broadcast Trust

Directed by Nandini Bedi

Distributed bySynclinefilmstore

29 mins. Garo with English subtitles

Jiji in her jhum field

If the global does not encompass the local, then what does it contain?

Ambi Jiji has always planted her crops on soil on which forests have been burnt. At the end of each year, this jhum field would be abandoned and left to regenerate into forest and a new one burnt. This is ofetn referred to as ‘shifting cultivation’. The burning of forested lands and the choice of new fields was an action performed by the village as a whole unit. Jiji is one of the custodians of the community owned village lands.

When Jiji was a young woman, she didn’t need to buy food. The people of her village relied on the great variety of crops that their fields produced. Forest cover was not reduced over the vast area under the control of her village. Now Jiji is about to retire. The rampant felling of trees for cash has aggravated the ecological balance for shifting cultivation. Chekjak, her daughter has been converting her fields to orchards, taking them out of circulation from the shifting fields. Waljak, another daughter, continues to depend on shifting cultivation but cannot meet her food needs any more. Chekjak and other villagers orchard produce give them cash and food security. Community lands are being privatized without consent and mono crop orchards are replacing organic multi crop fields. As some move aggressively forward, the disparities in wealth between villagers in what was a more homogenous society becomes inevitable.

This observational film follows conversations between the protagonists and other villagers that suggest an abuse of social control over land use by the village folk themselves. It focuses on Jiji, who spends her days between planning her retirement and trying to regain control over the threads that are the fabric of her society. Through her opposing actions, the film points to just how difficult it could be to turn events around in her village to bring back a balance into community life and the environment.

Are we witnessing more generally known global phenomena in a remote village in the Northeast of India?

Ambi Jiji with Nandini

First Prize – Jeevika – Livelihood Film Festival- Delhi – July 2007

First Prize – CMS Vatavaran Film Festival – Delhi – August – 2007

Also screened at

India International Center, Delhi РJuly Р2007  (Followed by a discussion)

Shared Histories – Celebrating India in South Africa – Johennesburg – Sept. Oct. 2007

The 9th Madurai Documentary and Short Film festival – Nov 2007

CMS Vatavaran traveling festival – in 8 Indian cities in 2008

Watson institute of International Studies, Brown University, Providence  РFebruary 2008 (Followed by a discussion)

Bangalore Film Society – January 2009 ( Followed by a discussion)

India Institute – Amsterdam – January 2009 ( Followed by a discussion)

Nepal International Indegenous Film festival – Kathmandu – June 2010