The Power of Film

This week’s piece is written by Samantha Caughey, DEGNZ’s Marketing & Events Coordinator, while Tui is overseas.

Have you ever watched a film that’s changed your life? Altered your perception of an issue, or spurred you to do something you’d never considered before?
 
Most people can pinpoint at least one film that’s had some kind of lasting impact on them.
 
And yet with a never-ending stream of glittery blockbuster flicks and Hollywood remakes, this can be easy to forget. We become convinced that film’s all about the bang and the buck, the spectacle, the beautiful faces and action that gets bums on seats – and sells popcorn to boot.
 
But what about film’s heart, its power to do incredible good and create change?
 
There’s no shortage of moving films out there – often you just have to look past summer’s latest hits to find them.
 
India’s Daughter is one such film. In August, DEGNZ had the pleasure of teaming up with Script to Screen and welcoming Leslee Udwin, director and producer of documentary feature India’s Daughter, to New Zealand.
 
The way Leslee speaks about her life and career is captivating and she is a true inspiration. In Auckland, I heard her explain how she, from a young age, has had a strong sense of injustice – something which her film and television projects have come to reflect.
 
Before India’s Daughter, Leslee began acting and then progressed to producing some poignant films including East Is East and West Is West. India’s Daughter, a film that explores the brutal gang-rape of medical student Jyoti Singh and the subsequent protests, was the first film she ever directed and it has since resounded across the world. The film certainly does shock, featuring interviews with some of the unremorseful rapists in prison, their lawyers and families as well as Jyoti’s family.
 
The reaction to the film has been intense. Celebrities including Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep and Alan Rickman lauded the film, while India took the polarising step of banning it.
 
Since making the film, Leslee has gone on to campaign not just for the women of India, but women around the world. She explained at one of our events how making the film gave her such an insight into the issue of gender inequality, and indeed inequality overall, that she was able to come up with some solutions. Now, she is working with the United Nations Human Rights Council and other international organisations to implement Equality Studies in the curriculum for primary school children around the world. A number of countries have already come on board with the programme, which is to be rolled out in the next few years.
 
And what did all this start with? An issue, a story – a film. It all began when Leslee saw this case on the news and decided it was a story that needed to be told through this medium. Since then, the documentary has taken on a life of its own, spreading across the world shocking people, and more importantly, inspiring them to take up the mantle and contribute to making a change.
 
Never forget about the power of film to change lives. It’s such an engaging medium, and you, the film-maker, have it at your fingertips. What is it that you want to say, what kind of impact do you want to have? As India’s Daughter has demonstrated, your voice can echo around the world and create change.

Samantha Caughey
Marketing & Events Coordinator