a step towards creating alternative dialogue through short/ documentary films within the Tamil diaspora
by Tanuja Thurairajah
The calm waters ripple; the clear blue skies are ripped apart by distant gunfire. The opening frames of 'A mango tree in the front yard' sets a premonitive mood to the film about to unravel. Simple, stark and uncomplicated in its delivery, Pradeepan Raveendran's short film captures the essence of the key actors behind the war and the peoples who are caught within. Each frame consists of symbols of a generic war but many nuances are quite specific in its relation to the Sri Lankan context. His second short film 'Shadows of Silence' highlights his directorial growth and deep insight into an innate element of the Tamil diaspora; depression and disillusionement.The symbolic imagery is strong and provacative and succinctly highlights issues which are commonly found in most first generation migrants; a portrait of loneliness, sexual repression and worthlessness.
Shadows of Silence
Leena Manimekalai's documentaries 'Altar' and her more recent 'Goddesses' are powerful brushstrokes on an eroding social fabric which form the backdrop to the lives of the woman protagonists who are personifications of incredible resilience and inner strength. 'Altar' speaks of the custom of child marriage and polygamy within the Kambalathu Naicker community in Central Tamil Nadu providing a stark insight into repressive practices in the name of culture and custom. 'Goddesses', which won the Golden Conch at the Mumbai International Film Festival on the other hand is a celebration of strength and integrity of three remarkable women easing the audience into an aura of positivity and hope.