Smiles From Off The Road
"Filmed in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Uttaranchal Himalayas, and and Wyanad, Kerala, India in 2008.
The village of Jhuni in the Kumaon Himalayas sits below Nanda Devi, the highest peak fully inside India. Due North there is nothing but thick forest and a jumble of six- to seven-thousand meter peaks up to the Tibetan border. The village is three hours steep walk from the nearest rough road, and a further three hours drive from the nearest main town and hospital. Jhuni was until a couple of years ago bypassed by any tourist/trekking traffic, and seemingly too by any development projects.
Additional footage in ‘Treasuring the Girlchild’, the second part of the film, was filmed in the hills of Wayanad, South India. The remaining tribal people of this area have seen their way of life transformed in the past three decades as ‘mainstream’ Hindu/Indian culture and economy removes them from their roots as forest-dwellers in the interests of 'development' and 'conservation'.
Despite the wonderful smiles, the girlchild in India works much harder than her brothers: fetching wood and water, caring for younger siblings. She is given less to eat, poorer education and has a far higher chance of dying young, or being aborted as a fetus. For the sake of smiling children - let’s treasure the girlchild!
Smiles, laughter, innocent trust, spontaneous welcome to strangers - these are the hallmarks of people in India living ‘off the road’, and untouched by Western ‘values’.
Perhaps our crime, drug and depression-ridden Western society might have something to learn from them?"
The film 'Smiles From Off The Road in India' was chosen for the 15th International Environmental Film Festival (Green Vision) which was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, 23-27 November 2010. Details about the festival...
‘Smiles From Off The Road’ was selected for the CMS International Children’s Film Festival in Lucknow, India (7-13 April 2009).
The jury of KIMFF (Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival) has selected ‘Smiles From Off The Road’ to be shown 10-14 December 2009.
The five short films from Uttarkhand and Kerala ‘Smiles From Off The Road’ were shown during a Short Films event at three Reliance TimeOut Music Stores in Bangalore, Gurgaon and Kochi, all on 23 Aug 2009.
The film had also been selected for the 4th ViBGYOR Film Festival for Short and Documentary, Thrissur, Kerala, India (4-8 Feb 2009). A jury that included filmmakers, film critics, journalists and social activists selected the film for this festival.