Fondo-sigo-rodando-solaStill filming alone

People say that India is a paradise for photographers and documentary-makers because of the colour of the images and rich subject-matter.
But not many enter the country admitting what they are going to do; otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to or they’d have to pay Bollywood prices for a day of filming.
As for me, I had a research grant from Casa Asia and was going to make a documentary about women and water.
This would mean visa problems since I was neither a student nor working. Also, because of my job whenever I can do it, I’m not particularly welcome in countries which pay lipservice to the freedom of expression.
I’m still filming by myself: going through airports with equipment a team of at least 3 people would be expected to work with. But what was a disadvantage in theory proved to be something unique.
India is a country easily accessible to citizens from rich countries. I met sex tourists there and others cramming their suitcases with brightly coloured trinkets to sell at exorbitant prices in Europe, untroubled by the fact that they are produced by child slave labour. And, of course, I’ve met people travelling in search of that supposed spiritual India in sectarian communes.
Everything is simple so long as you aren’t a journalist or you don’t belong to a human rights organisation, although the opposite seems to be true for the four million NGOs working with children, women or the “untouchables”...
If you look a little closely, you realise that after over 50 years of work by NGOs in the country and the billions of euros donated by the West, things have barely changed. I ask myself how they can justify their ineffectiveness.
Another question I have is how this country –a member of the G20 and the world’s fourth power in terms of purchasing power parity has the highest concentration of poor people and 46% of its population suffering malnutrition. On my previous stay, I lived in a community of widows in a holy city, and was under the protection of abandoned women. I occurred to me that I had developed a limited impression because I had been living such an exclusive reality.
To film “La mujer y el agua (Women and water)”, I travelled almost the entirety of India for six months and lived, laughed and wept with the women featured in the documentary.
The advantage of being alone is that I don’t experience things as an outsider; I become part of the frenetic, inescapable course of their lives.
I was once asked by a female journalist from a Muslim country how I managed to get women to talk to me so openly in front of the camera.
Again, as it happens, the four protagonists of the documentary were not living with their husbands and had noone to tell them to be quiet.
As a documentary-maker and a Guerilla filmmaker, I feel the need to show what I see, even if it involves suffering. I like to watch and to be invisible, and take pains not to interfere with the things around me. For this, I need time.
But on the other hand loneliness has also produced worrying moments for me.

Although not at war, India is one of the most violent countries for women and the vulnerable.

In my experience as a traveller, I have never felt my privacy invaded so much or been subjected to the aggression, as I was there: possibly because I was showing things that nobody wants to see, even though they are in plain sight of everyone.



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