Kolkata Boy Bouddhayan Mukherjee makes it to Cannes 2010

Bell Bajao Poster One
Bell Bajao Poster One

Calcutta Tube (May 18th): The man’s shouts rip through the neighbourhood that could be yours or mine. As he screams at and thrashes a woman, the character (Boman Irani) rings their doorbell. He asks permission to use their telephone. The angry husband glares at him. At this point, Irani’s cell phone begins to ring in his shirt pocket. The message is clear – the husband is a wife-beater. As Irani walks away, you get the feeling that one bell and a severe look will make sure it was the last time the man raised his hand on the woman. , young alumni of Kolkata’s South Point High School has directed this series of films under the Bell Bajao public service campaign produced by Breakthrough, a New York-based NGO working in India. It is an entire series, each one featuring a man, alerted by a woman’s screams, walks over to the house and rings the bell on a variety of pretexts such as asking for a cup of milk or retrieving a lost ball. One of these will be screened in Cannes this week as one out of six short films chosen for a section called Speak Out Against Domestic Violence Short Films Contest with entries from the Netherlands, Mexico, the UK and the US.  The awareness and intervention campaign, launched on August 20, 2008, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development is on an award-winning spree. It has won a gold and a silver at Goafest (2009), two golds at the Indian Documentary Producers Association Awards, a Spikes Asia Gold, a Community Engagement Award at the Media That Matters festival in New York, a special jury mention at the Expression En Corto Film Festival in Mexico and the UNFPA-Laadli Media Awards, India, 2009. The second season of this campaign has just begun.

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