Still, The Children are Here 2003
Distributed by First Run/Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Mira Nair
Directed by Dinaz Stafford
VHS, color, 88 min.
Sr. High - Adult
Agriculture, Anthropology, Area Studies, Food
Date Entered: 04/29/2005Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
In Meghalaya, a small northeastern Indian state bordered by Bangladesh and Assam, rice and millet are life-blood crops for the indigenous people living there. Following several Sadolpara villagers through a dry-bed rice growing cycle, this exceptionally well-produced documentary provides an engrossing portrait of a once primitive culture in transition. Using ancient farming techniques to clear, plant, weed and harvest the rice fields, the Garo people are also touched in their daily lives by a global market economy. While the villagers have not lost all traditions, the Garo are quickly assimilating and being assimilated by other cultures. In this fine example of visual anthropology, viewers see Christian churches co-existing with tribal idols and villagers leaving the fields to earn daily wages as laborers while discussing the need for healthcare, electricity and water.
Narrated (with English sub-titles) by the villagers themselves, some themes are universal - the health of a child, the faithfulness of a husband, the care of elderly relatives. Others are more personal but all have immediacy. Produced in association with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), this is a beautifully photographed and edited field study. No longer isolated, the Garo interact with mainstream cultures, which brings both benefits and increasing challenges. Filmmaker Stafford asks viewers to carefully consider the long-term effects that rural development has on indigenous cultures. This film is an excellent starting point for that discussion as well as a lead-in to further study about the Garo tribe. Highly recommended.