SASI & 3rd i NY present Screening & Discussion on Dalits in India with “Papilio Buddha” Director Jayan Cherian

Friday, October 19, 2012
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Alwan for the Arts, 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor (b/w Broad & Broadway) in Lower Manhattan
Admission: $5, free for Alwan Members

Papilio Buddha, NYC-based filmmaker Jayan Cherian’s debut feature, explores the life of a group of displaced Dalits ( the preferred term for those often called “untouchables”) in the Western Ghats of India and probes the new identity politics based on Ambedkarism, gaining momentum among the Dalits in the region, in the milieu of an ongoing land struggle.

Set in the background of a Dalit campaign for land in Kerala’s Wayanad district and the community’s mass conversion to Buddism, Papilio Buddha powerfully pushes the boundaries in its the depiction of caste, sexuality and Dalit politics. The movie also revives the decades-old debate on whether Mahatma Gandhi’s advocacy on behalf of Dalits did in fact benefit the community at all. Recently the Indian Central Board of Film Certification barred screening of the film in the country.

Join the filmmaker along with Balmurli Natarajan, a member of the South Asian Solidarity Initiative in a screening of select clips from the feature film and discussion on the contemporary situation of Dalits in Kerala, as well as the current state of film censorship in India.

View the Trailer:

Articles about the censorship:

The Hindu


Roundtable India

About the Filmmaker 

Poet filmmaker Jayan K Cherian born in India, Graduated with honors from Hunter College, BA in Film and Creative Writing and MFA from The City College of New York in Writing Directing Film, and Cinematography. Pappilio Buddha (2012) is his debut feature film and he made several experimental documentaries and narrative shorts such as: Shape of the Shapeless (2010) Love in theTime of Foreclosure (2009), Hidden Things (2009), Soul of Solomon (2008), Capturingthe Signs of God (2008), Holy Mass (2007), Tree of Life (2007), Simulacra the Reality of the Unreal (2007), The Inner Silence of the Tumult (2007), Hid-entity (2007), and Tandava the Dance of Dissolution (2006).

Films were screened, BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival 2011, Short Film Corner:Festival De Cannes 2011, Rio de Janeiro International Short Film Festival 2011, International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala 2011, Rhode Island International Film Festival, Athens International Film Festival, Austin Gay&Lesbian International Film Festival, San Francisco Shorts International Film Festival, International Film festival South Africa, Coney Island Film Festival, Oaxaca International Independent Film and Video Festival Mexico, Big Apple Film Festival at Tribeca Cinema New York, Kenyan International Film Festival, CUNY Asian American Film Festival, ViBGYOR International Film festival, Millennium Film Workshop and Anthology Film Archives in New York City.

Shape of the Shapeless won: Silver Jury prize in San Francisco Shorts, Honorable Mentions at Athens International Film Festival, East Man Kodak Award for best Cinematography and Best Documentary Award at City Visions 2010.Published four collections of poetry in Malayalam Ayodhanaththinte Achuthantu(Axis of Combat) (1996), Ayanam Vachana Rekhayil (Journey on the line of verse) (1999) Polymorphism (2002), and Pachakku (Like it is) (2006). Received many Awards for Poetry such as, Kerala Sahitya Academy Kanakasri Endowment Award (2003) for “Ayanam Vachana Rekhayil” and Mathan Tharakan Award for “Ayodhanathinte Achuthantu”(axis of Combat) 1996.

About the Discussant

Balmurli Natrajan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, William Paterson University of New Jersey writes on caste, race and globalization. He is a member of South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI) in New York City, Mining Zone People’s Solidarity Group (MZPSG) and the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH).

About the Co-Presenters

SOUTH ASIA SOLIDARITY INITIATIVE (SASI) is an organization based the United States that is in solidarity with progressive social movements and democratic politics in South Asia. We believe in the shared history and common struggles of South Asia and break from the confines of nation-states to carry forward an alternative vision for South Asia and its peoples.

SASI is opposed to state repression, majoritarian politics, reactionary non-state forces, dispossession of communities and oppression of people along the lines of caste, gender, class, region, race, ethnicity, sexuality and religion. We stand with those in South Asia who dissent, and we will amplify the voices of those who are silenced.

SASI engages in the US public sphere to challenge the US establishment wherever it reinforces repressive politics in South Asia. We aim to both engender a progressive dialogue and confront reactionary forces within our diasporic communities. SASI builds on decades of South Asian progressive politics of solidarity within the United States for peace and reconciliation, inter-ethnic and inter-religious co-existence as well as social and economic justice in South Asia.

3rdi NY Film Programming is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts, and the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, both in partnership with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Alwan for the Arts hosts our monthly screenings series. We are thankful to the SINGH Foundation for acting as our fiscal sponsor.