Final solution documentary
|Articles - Human Rights|
This important documentary was screened on BBC4 but due to a campaign from right wing hindutva organisations (alleging bias), the BBC shelved plans to do further screenings. Considering the topic and the acclaim received to the documentary it is astonishing that it has not had wider coverage in the UK media.
Final Solution is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during the period Feb/March 2002 - July 2003, the film graphically documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 genocide of Moslems in Gujarat. It specifically examines political tendencies reminiscent of the Nazi Germany of early/mid-1930s. Final Solution is anti-hate/ violence as “those who forget history are condemned to relive it”.
Post-911, we live in a world where politics of hate and intolerance has gained mainstream acceptance, even grabbed centre stage. The right-wing seems to be tightening its stranglehold across Europe and USA, a nationalism being fuelled by the anti-immigrant/anti-Moslem rhetoric. The ‘War on Terror’ dominated the electoral discourse in the US presidential elections, with both candidates promising to hunt ‘em and kill ‘em better than the other. In a world where it has become legitimate to use fictitious intelligence to justify the bombing of innocents in Iraq, where it has become acceptable to launch precision bombs and rockets against non-“embedded” journalists, where shameless politicians divide up oil wells and farm out reconstruction contracts for their $ 36 million bonuses, where babies are killed and mutilated as acceptable “collateral damage”, we face a challenge greater than ever before.
We have earlier lived through many dark periods in history, often justifying our barbarism by using similar rhetoric. Hate, despair, destruction and tragedy can not possibly help create harmonious societies and a democratic world.
During the making of this film, I noticed shocking parallels between India 2002-2004 and Germany of the 1930s - State-supported genocidal violence against Moslems in Gujarat and its continuing impact – segregation in schools, ghettoisation in cities and villages, formal calls for economic boycott of Moslems and attacks on intelligentsia by right-wing Hindutva cadres.
Unchecked and unchallenged, the rapid rise of politics of hate and intolerance could very well be the forerunner of a 21st century Endlosung – the Final Solution.
Part 1: Pride and Genocide deals with the carnage and its immediate aftermath. It examines the patterns of pre-planned genocidal violence (by right-wing Hindutva cadres), which many claim was state-supported, if not state-sponsored. The film reconstructs through eyewitness accounts the attack on Gulbarg and Patiya (Ahmedabad) and acts of barbaric violence against Moslem women at Eral and Delol/Kalol (Panchmahals) even as Chief Minister Modi traverses the state on his Gaurav Yatra.
Part 2: The Hate Mandate documents the poll campaign during the Assembly elections in Gujarat in late 2002. It records in detail the exploitation of the Godhra incident by the right-wing propaganda machinery for electoral gains. The film studies and documents the situation months after the elections to find shocking fault lines – voluntary ghettoisation, segregation in schools, formal calls for economic boycott of Moslems and continuing acts of violence.
Final Solution was banned in India by the Censor Board for several months. The ban was lifted in Oct.'04 after a sustained campaign (an online petition, hundreds of protest screenings countrywide, multi-city signature campaigns and dozens of letters to the Government sent by audiences directly).
A Pirate-and-Circulate campaign was conducted in protest against the ban (Get-a-free-copy-only-if-you-promise-to-pirate-and-make-5-copies). Over 10,000 free Video CDs of the film were distributed in India during this campaign, which ended in Dec. 2004. Final Solution was also rejected by the government-run Mumbai International Film Festival, but was screened at Vikalp: Films for Freedom, organised by the Campaign Against Censorship. Rakesh Sharma has been an active member of the Campaign since its inception.
Wolfgang Staudte award (Best film,International Forum for New Cinema) and Special Jury Award (Netpac), Berlin International film fest (2004).
Montgolfiere d’Or for Best Documentary and Le Prix Fip/Pil’ du Public – (Audience award), 26th Festival des 3 Continents at Nantes (France; 2004).
Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Documentary, HongKong International film festival (2004)
Best Film, Freedom of Expression awards (2005) by Index on Censorship
Best Feature -length Documentary, Big MiniDV (USA; 2004)
Silver Dhow, Zanzibar International film festival (2004)
Special Jury Mention, Munich Dokfest (2004)
Nominee, Best Foreign film, Grierson Awards (UK; 2004)
Special Jury Award, Karafilmfest (Pakistan; 2004)
Special Mention, Bangkok International film festival (2005)
Special Award by NRIs for a Secular & Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI), NY, USA.
Special award by AFMI, USA-Canada
Berlinale (International premiere; Feb 2004), HongKong, Fribourg, Vancouver, Hot Docs (Canada), Sao Paulo, Bogota (Colombia), 3 continents filmfest (South Africa), Zanzibar, Durban, Vermont International filmfest (USA), Asiatica filmmediale (Rome), Leeds (UK), Cork (Ireland), Commonwealth film festival (UK), One world filmfest (Prague), Academia Olomouc (Czech), TIDF (Taiwan), Sydney, Adelaide, Torino, Voces Contra el Silencio (Mexico), Istanbul 1001fest, Singapore, Flanders (Belgium), International filmfest of Human rights (Spain and Poland), South Asian film festivals (New York, Seattle, Dallas), Amnesty fest (USA), World Social Forum (Mumbai), Vikalp (organised by Campaign against Censorship) etc.
Rakesh Sharma began his film/TV career in 1986 as an assistant director on Shyam Benegal's Discovery of India. His broadcast industry experience includes the set up/ launch of 3 broadcast channels in India: Channel [V], Star Plus and Vijay TV. He has now gone back to independent documentary film-making.
His first independent film Aftershocks: The Rough Guide to Democracy won the Best documentary film award at Fribourg, Big Mini-DV and at Big Muddy and won 7 other awards (including the Robert Flaherty prize) at various festivals in USA and Europe during 2002-03. It has been screened at over 90 international film festivals. Aftershocks was also rejected by the government-run Mumbai International film festival in 2002.