The weeding of the reading and writing fields
From Nov. 2008 to Jan 2009, the film has been screened for audiences in Amsterdam, New Delhi, Madurai and Bangalore (South India). It will be screened shortly in Kolkata (East India) and once more in Amsterdam.
More than once I have been asked by someone in the audience how people opened themselves up to me and trusted me. I think there are many reasons for this. Firstly I had been living in that village with my doors open most of the time. People could pretty much see for themselves what I did although they may not have gathered exactly why. ‘Research’ was one way I described it. ‘Study’ another. Although they could not read or write, they peered at the books I filled in with ant like scrawls and saw me going through piles of local newspapers to cut out and stick parts of them. They had a way to explain it to themselves. They said, ‘she’s weeding her reading and writing fields’. They got used to being followed around with a camera and often saw themselves on the screen of my monitor later. I guess they liked what they saw and felt no harm could come to them from my pursuits, whatever they were. This film and ‘Ambi Jiji’s Retirement’ have been shown to the people who are in them. When you live and work with a people, you do have the possibility to relate to them in quite another way than when you don’t. I tried to respect their feelings about what I could shoot and what I couldn’t. Sometimes it was a difficult choice for me. Sometimes they told me not to follow them. Or they misled me as a way to get me off the track. Or just kept silent. Sometimes I decided where not to intrude. Like I did want to be there with camera the first night after the man was caught to see him sleeping encircled by the young men of the girl’s family. But just couldn’t get myself to do it.