Religious Conflict, Human Rights & the New Documentary Film in Southern Asia
NYU School of Law, D’Agostino Hall, 110 West 3rd Street (corner of McDougal Street)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
1:30 Opening Remarks: Signs of Crisis
Patricia Spyer (University of Leiden, Senior Fellow, Center for Religion & Media, NYU, 2006-07)
Keynote: Philip Alston (Co-Director, Center for Human Rights & Global Justice, NYU Law)
2:00 – 3:45 Screening: Garin Nugroho, The Poet (Unconcealed Poetry) (2001, 85 min.)
Set in 1965 in Aceh in a camp where members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and alleged communists are imprisoned. The central figure in the film is Abrahim Kadir, an Acehnese poet who plays himself, who in the camp was assigned the task of blindfolding those who were led off to execution. The traditional Acehnese didong poetic form which blends music, dance, and song punctuates the film and the terror of these times. Produced in 2001, this small scale reconstruction of the events of 1965-66 was the first independent Indonesian film on the subject.
Q & A: Garin Nugroho, Moderator: Patricia Spyer, Center for Religion and Media, NYU
3:45 – 4:00 BREAK
4:00 – 5:30 Screening: Anand Patwardhan, In the Name Of God (1992, 75 min.)
This classic and controversial film focuses on the campaign waged by the militant Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to destroy a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya said to have been built by Babar, the first Mughal Emperor of India. The VHP claim the mosque was built at the birthsite of the Hindu god Ram after Babar razed an existing Ram temple. This controversial issue led to religious riots which have cost thousands of lives, culminating in the mosque’s destruction by Hindus in December of 1992. The resulting religious violence immediately spread throughout India leaving more than 5,000 dead, and causing thousands of Indian Muslims to flee their homes. Filmed prior to the mosque’s demolition, the film examines the motivations which would ultimately lead to the drastic actions of the Hindu militants, as well as the efforts of secular Indians – many of whom are Hindus – to combat the religious intolerance and hatred that has seized India in the name of God.
Q & A: Anand Patwardhan, Moderator: Tejaswini Ganti: Anthropology, NYU
5:30 – 5:45 BREAK
5:45 – 6:45 Panel: Documentary, Human Rights, and Questions of Evidence
Filmmakers: Garin Nugroho (Indonesia), Anand Patwardhan (India) in conversation with Benedict Kingsbury (Director, Institute for International Law and Justice NYU), Vesuki Nesiah (International Center for Transitional Justice), Meg Satterthwaite (Co-Director, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, NYU), Tinuk Yampolsky (independent scholar and Indonesian cultural activist). Moderator: Sally Merry (Anthropology /Law and Society, NYU)
6:45 – 7:30 RECEPTION
Friday, May 18, 2007
Secularism, Religious Violence and Retrospective Accountings
9:00 – 10:00 Breakfast
10:00 – 10:45 Screening: Lexy Junior Rambadeta Mass Grave (2001, 26 min.)
The Suharto resignation in 1998 left the New Order’s legacy of violence unresolved. In November 2000, some groups of human rights activists and families of those killed in 1965-66 massacres exhumed a mass grave in Wonosobo, Central Java. The exhumation turned up remains of those killed and buried there by anti-communist groups in 1965. This documentary film follows this first emotional attempt to investigate the 1965 massacre, seeking evidence that the killing of suspected communists indeed happened as reported by eyewitnesses and families of missing persons.
Q &A: Lexy Junior Rambadeta, Moderator: Tinuk Yampolsky, independent scholar/cultural activist
10:45 – 11:00 BREAK
11:00 – 1:30 Screenings:
Rakesh Sharma Final Solution (2004, 88 min.)
A study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat, India, the film graphically documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 genocide of Muslims in Gujarat. The film examines the aftermath of the deadly violence that followed the burning of 58 Hindus on the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra on February 27 2002. In reaction to that incident, some 2,500 Muslims were brutally murdered, hundreds of women raped, and more than 200,000 families driven from their homes. Borrowing its reference from the history of Nazism, the title of the film exposes what the director calls ‘Indian Fascism’ and seeks to remind that “those who forget history are condemned to relive it.”
Q&A: Rakesh Sharma, Moderator: Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi, Center for Religion & Media, NYU
Amar Kanwar To Remember (2003, 8 min.)
Portrait of Birla House, the site of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948. Located in Delhi, Birla House has become a gallery and shrine attracting hundreds of visitors daily. This short silent film is an homage to Gandhi as well as the visitors who embody the spirit of his pacifist teachings. Against the backdrop of a surge in militant Hindu nationalism, Kanwar’s work is particularly telling. Clearly the historical turn of events from nonviolence to nuclear armament, suggests deep ambivalence about Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy.
Q&A: Amar Kanwar, Moderator: Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi, Center for Religion & Media, NYU
1:30 – 2:45 BREAK FOR LUNCH
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Narrative, Testimony, Meaning
9:00 – 10:00 Breakfast
10:00 – 11:00 Screening: Aryo Danusiri The Village Goat Takes the Beating (2000, 45 min.)
Filmed in Aceh in late 1999, through lengthy interviews with victims or with relatives of deceased victims, and through partial re-enactments, records allegations of human right abuses perpetrated by the Indonesian army in Aceh during the 1990s, particularly in the Tiro subdistrict of Pidie, during the notorious DOM period, when under Suharto Aceh was first made an area of military operations (Daerah Operasi Militer) with the aim of suppressing GAM (Aceh Freedom Movement). The full meaning of the film’s title is contained within the Acehnese saying ‘the mountain goat eats the corn, the village goat takes the beating’, for it is claimed that the killings and torture by the army were frequently perpetrated on the villagers, rather than on GAM members.
Q&A: Aryo Danusiri, Moderator: Mary Steedly, Anthropology, Harvard University
11:00 – 12:30 Screening: Sonia Jabbar Autumn’s Final Country (2003, 66 min.)
These testimonials, recorded for the South Asia Court of Women (Dhaka, Aug.2003), explore the lives of four women who have suffered displacement in the conflict-ridden state of Jammu and Kashmir. Each story reveals an intimate dimension of the Kashmir conflict, raising questions about patriarchal values and power, communal identities, nationalism and war.
Q&A: Sonia Jabbar, Moderator: Tejaswini Ganti, Anthropology, NYU
12:30 – 1:30 Panel: Narrative, Testimony, Meaning
Filmmakers: Aryo Danusiri, Sonia Jabbar, in conversation with Joseph Saunders (Asia director, Human Rights Watch), Jael Silliman, Ford Foundation, Moderator: Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi, Center for Religion & Media, NYU
1:30 – 2:30 BREAK FOR LUNCH
Dian Hardiany (Kampung Halaman video collective) Video Diary (2006, 15 min.) (2:30 – 3:00)
Three five-minute video diaries from survivors of the tsunami in Aceh, many of them children.
Q&A: Dian Hardiany, Moderator: Patricia Spyer, Center for Religion and Media, NYU
Sunday, May 20 At the Asia Society
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York, NY 10021
Tel: (212) 288-6400
Circulating Culture: New Works from Indonesia and India
3:00 – 5:30 Screening
The Face, Thet Win Aung and Ma Win Maw O (from his ongoing Burma Series)
Lexy Junior Rambadeta
Faces of Everyday Corruption in Indonesia.
A discussion with the filmmakers follows.
Garin Nugroho Opera Jawa (2007, 120 min.)
NYC FILM PREMIERE
Inspired by the Ramayana, the great classic of ancient Indian and South East-Asian literature, and commissioned by internationally acclaimed theater director Peter Sellars, Opera Jawa is a musical like no other in cinema. It tells of a passionate love triangle that leads inexorably to conflict, violence and death.