SIFF Cinema, Sunday, October 9th, 7pm
I Am Afia Megha Abhimanyu Omar
I AM is about issues and dilemmas that bruise the modern Indian society. Unravelling and exploring these tribulations, the film unfolds many a tale of individuals struggling to find their identity, and uphold their dignity in a world that is callous, cold and unsympathetic. Shot in four different cities across India, I AM is a fusion of stories where the protagonists share a common dream – a desire to regain their lives, to regain an identity which has been taken away from them.
I AM AFIA is the story of a single woman who feels her identity will be made whole through the singular feminine experience of motherhood. Unable to trust or even wait for a man, her search is defined – does motherhood necessarily require the burden of a man?
I AM MEGHA is a story of two friends – a Kashmiri Pandit woman and a Muslim woman – separated by conflict. Against the backdrop of the exodus of Hindu’s in Kashmir in early 90’s, it’s a story of loss of home and identity. If your own home rejects you, where do you go and where are you “from”?
I AM ABHIMANYU is the story of a broken man, with a proud mask. Abhimanyu is trapped by the demons of his past, a past of sexual abuse. To move forward he must first go back, into a world where his childhood was stolen from him.
I AM OMAR is a horrific tale of sexual discrimination; blackmail and prejudice is part of the torrid fabric. It reveals how the police use Article 377 (law under Indian Penal code which criminalizes homosexuality) to harass and blackmail gay men. In the current climate of media sensationalism, perhaps this story gains even more poignancy.
Characters move in and out of the stories, thus linking them in terms of content and structure. In all, I AM is about glimpses into the lives of people who often do not know what’s right and very often, do not do the right thing. There is a beauty in simple things, and a dignity in individual struggle – through its stories, I AM reflects the story of everyone.
I AM is born of true life incidents.
Onir’s passion for literature and film dates back to 1986, when he left Bhutan and came to Kolkata for higher education. While pursuing his degree in Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University, he studied German, Russian, Bengali, and Tamil. During this time he also completed a Film studies course at Chitrabani in Kolkata.In 1991, Onir made his first documentary Glimpses of a College Street at a workshop organized by Max Muller Bhavan and Chitrabani. He then received a Scholarship for training at SFB/TTC in Berlin. Upon returning to India in 1992, he produced and directed Fallen Hero, his first independent documentary portraying a painter’s life and his dilemma with the volatile political discourse in Bengal. In 1999, he worked as the editor and song designer for Daman, a celebrated feature directed by Kalpana Lajmi.
In 2004, Onir directed and co-produced his first film My Brother Nikhil, distributed by the top privately owned studio in India Yash Raj Film–the first mainstream Hindi film specifically addressing homosexuality in the context of human rights and HIV AIDS. In 2006, Onir directed his second feature film Bas Ek Pal. In 2008, Onir and Sanjay produced Onir’s third feature film Sorry Bhai, distributed by Mumbai Mantra.Onir’s empathy for victims of social injustice, sensitivity as a director, and experience in producing independent feature films sets him apart from others.