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9th Mumbai International Film Festival

Well, I'm truly settled in now. The festival has started. Documentaries, short films and animation. Great stuff. Finally found a good net place to post my BLOGs. I'm sure there are millions of readers.

The Mumbai International Film Festival is pretty cool. The Indian docos are nicely controversial and the short films are very entertaining. One short film, "Ryan" was inspiringly brilliant! It was a mind-blowing animation about a guy having trouble hanging on to his creative edge as he grew into his 40s. Not sure why that one was so appealing ;).

I'm learning about India by a mixture of sitting in an air-conditioned cinema and walking the streets. The roads are really dangerous because of the traffic. There doesn't seem to be a system of rules. The whole city is all a little random in terms of the overall organisation. I don't know how the festival organisers have managed to pull anything together.

As I was warned, India has a public service problem similar to England back in the 50s. It pays to carry a bunch of photos with you. A lot of forms and pens. You really have to ply information out of official people as they are very polite. They assume that you know a lot about things and offer only small nuggets of information.

The Indian head-wobble is hard to get used to. As I talk to Indian people, the head starts to wobble - as if in disagreement. But it's the opposite. I kind of knew this, but it's different when you see it so much. It's as if they are about to launch into a great confrontational debate - but it's more of an empathetic gesture.

Also, guys hold hands here - which is a bit confronting. I know a few people back in Perth who would punch the wall thinking about this. I'm sure those same guys would suddenly get really confused if it happened to them ;)

There are Aussies here, and I've made a few new friends - but I'm also making Indian filmmaker friends. By hanging out with them, I'm learning SUCH A LOT about this culture. There are many subleties and things can be really confusing - especially the politics. Whoever is in charge of India has a mammoth task. I don't see how it's possible to govern a country of 1.2bn people. Or this city. Mumbai has a population of between 16 and 20 million people (no census could count for the poor here).

Because there is little in the way of social welfare, people are pretty much left to their own devices - which includes begging.

I saw a documentary about shanty people living under a railway platform - right next to the tracks! The documentary was about how the government was trying to evict them so they could modernise the railway!

I told the cab driver that there was a lot of poor people in India, but he thought I'd asked him to show me the poor people. I nodded in exasperation (my accent is strong, I think) and he took me for a drive alongside the railway. After about 10 kilometres of gazing at people living under hessian potato sacks and digging holes deep in the roadside in search for clean water - I put my camera away. I felt like crap and developed a bit of a lump in my throat.

I remember a fellow Perth filmmaker (now a Producer) asking me what it was that really touched me as a filmmaker - what moved me. What brings me to tears. My answer at the time (I was 21) probably sounded a bit smart-arse. The plight of humanity, I said. He wasn't impressed.

I'm not sure what I really meant then, but I think I know what I meant now.

It freezes me to think about these people. I can't talk about it. It's a real REAL world shame.

No wonder there's a Bollywood. These people have nothing else.


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