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Film fest: Sufferings galore come to fore
The second day of Tri-Continental film festival screened movies based on some of the untouched subjects that demand great attention. No doubt a trip to the fest is quite enlightening.
ON DAY TWO of the Tri-Continental Film festival held in New Delhi, documentary films brought to light some of the most understated and less talked about hard facts of this world and hence gathered huge critical applause. A survival mechanism that became an industry is what Mitumba is all about, depicted most tastefully in Mitumba - The Second Hand Road, a story of a T-shirt and its travails across continents to finally reach a Soccer buff in a remote village of Tanzania. The movie stole many a heart away with its exquisite portrayal of what could be loosely called ostentation that comes to Tanzanians with wearing cast-offs or simply thrown-away clothes and shoes. 
 
After seeing the documentary film it would not be an exaggeration to call Tanzania a ‘Mitumba economy’. The sense of hip and the yearning for decent clothing and the way people have accepted and absorbed Mitumba in their lives in Dar-e-Salam was bitterly palpable. Discerning consumers throng at the ‘Sale offer’ run in some of the most backward places displaying a better sense of the outfit than its original buyers and pouring questions like how many pockets or what shape is the collar.
 
For a better understanding, Mitumba means used and thrown-off clothes and other articles. The genesis of Mitumba dates back to 1980s when it was bought or imported from Europe and America for the truly underprivileged. With the course of time, more and more people, even the so-called upper middle class who can afford better clothing, got hooked to the cast-offs but branded clothes and preferred them over the clothes manufactured in Africa. Consequently, the textile industry, among others, suffered a major blow and is still in the grip of losses. It is said in the film that 18 ton of cast-off clothes are traded everyday in Mitumba markets in Tanzania which covers some 10 million bodies.
 
Breakthrough, the international human rights organization that has brought the film fest to India, has done a tremendous job in bringing to fore some of the major human rights infringements happening around the world. However, the show missed out on one count. The cast and crew of these documentary films could not make it to the event else it would have been a major crowd-puller festival. Mario D’Penha from Breakthrough says that due to lack of funds Breakthrough could not bring the team of these documentary makers to India. However, we can expect them in India the next time around, he assured.
 
One startling fact that came to notice again and again during Mitumba-The Second Hand Road was that the original African dress has been amiss while it figured out many of the males are wearing Indian dhotis and Muslim skullcaps or something that resembles it a hell lot. May be some Indians, living in India or outside contributed to that end and it reached one of the ‘rag merchants’ as the traders were known in Mitumba markets.
 
The film follows the path of a T-shirt originally belonging to Felix, a 10-year-old German boy. A little while after buying and using this T-shirt, one of his favourite Soccer uniforms, Felix has to dump it since the soccer coach orders a new uniform and as such his mother dumps it in the neighborhood bin collecting all sorts of clothes, old and new, fresh and worn-out, long and short, clean and soiled indiscriminately. The yellow shirt, thus embarks on a journey that would end in one of the remote village of Tanzania. 
 
Does not it sound more of a dumping ground for old and worn out clothes than a helpful gesture towards the needy? Yes, this is the harsh reality of the matter that is depicted in a sensitive manner in the documentary. Director Raffaele has also at some places logically defended the argument against Mitumba that wearing the West’s castoffs is humiliating, and puts in a valid debate that Tanzanians know the real humiliation is having nothing to wear.
 
Another movie that touched the sensibilities of many in the audience was City of Guilt. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, maker of City of Guilt has shown one of the rudest realities happening on the other side of the globe in the present times in the most convincing manner.
 
Philippines, the country where contraceptives are frowned at and where abortion is illegal is close to population explosion. As a result, hapless females go to all extents of self-infliction of injuries to kill the foetus. One of the women in the documentary had thrown herself off the window to kill the foetus but failing it she approached one of the midwives, part of an undercover network that believes it’s doing a noble need, undergoes clandestine abortion which is very common in Phillipines. Though they weep, they howl and undergo extreme trauma all through their lives and endure the guilt of killing her flesh and blood, these women have no other option. Caught between the Catholic beliefs and nonchalance on part of government, female Phillipinos are living through hell and the fear of getting caught after an illegal abortion only adds to the agony.
 
Definitely, the film festival leaves an indelible mark on many a mind and gets one thinking on a bigger picture.

Related links:
Tri Continental Film Fest: Sensitivity unleashed

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