Words on Water

Director: Sanjay Kak
English (subtitled), 85 min, 2002, India
Resistance to a series of massive dams on the Narmada river, and a struggle that exposes the deceptive heart of India s development politics.
Words on Water
A still from Words on Water

For more than 15 years, people of the Narmada Valley in central India have resisted a series of massive dams on their river, and in their struggle have exposed the deceptive heart of India1s development politics. When the use of violence has become the arbiter of all political debate, Words on Water is about a sustained non-violent resistance, an almost joyous defiance, which empowers people as they struggle for their rights, yet saves them from the ultimate humiliation of violence.

Producer: Octave Communications
Director: Sanjay Kak
Camera: Sanjay Kak, Ranjan Palit
Editing: Sameera Jain, Reena Mohan
Sound: Samina Mishra, Asheesh Pandya
Music: Rahul Ram, Amit Kilam, Asheem Chakrabarty
  • Best Long Documentary, Brazil International Festival of Environmental Cinema, GoiĆ¢nia;
  • Main Prize, Envirofilm International Environmental Film Festival, Slovakia, 2003;
  • Second Prize, Festival Theme, Durban International Film Festival, 2003;
  • Special Mention, International Video Festival, Trivandrum, 2003;
Select Screenings:
  • Locarno International Film Festival, 2003;
  • Mumbai World Social Forum, 2004;
  • Vatavaran Environmental Film Festival, New Delhi, 2003;
  • Film South Asia, Kathmandu, 2003;
  • International Film Festival, Hong Kong , 2003;
  • Cinemambiente Turin, 2002;
About the Director:

Sanjay Kak is a self-taught independent documentary film-maker whose recent work reflects his interests in ecology, alternatives and resistance politics. His films include Red Ant Dream (2013) about the persistence of the revolutionary ideal in India, Jashn-e-Azadi (How we celebrate freedom, 2007) about the idea of freedom in Kashmir, Words on Water (2002) about the struggle against the Narmada dams in central India, and In the forest hangs a bridge (1999), about the making of a thousand foot bridge of cane and bamboo in north east India.

His films also include One Weapon (1997), a video about democracy in the 50th year of Indian independence, and twinned films on the theme of migration, looking at people of Indian origin in the fringes of the city of London in This Land, My Land, Eng-Land! (1993) and in post-apartheid South Africa in A House and a Home (1993), as well as Cambodia: Angkor Remembered (1990), a reflection on the monument and its place in Khmer society.

In 2008 he participated in the Manifesta7, the European Biennale of Art, in Bolzano, Italy, with the installation A Shrine to the Future: The memory of a hill, about the mining of bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa.

Posted by Magic Lantern Movies LLP on February 2, 2014
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