CENTRALIA

by Poulomi Basu

 

I first started working on Centralia in 2009 as a photographic and research project. This material will be published as a book in fall 2019 by photo book publisher Dewi Lewis. Through this long term commitment to this story I have developed …

Centralia is an Indian docu-fiction that journeys deep into the forests of central India where a little known and under reported conflict between an indigenous tribal people and the Indian state slowly simmers. In war, truth is the first casualty. Centralia explores the unsteady relationship between reality and fiction and how our perceptions of reality and truth are manipulated.

Blood Speaks

previous project by Poulomi Basu

Begun in 2013, Blood Speaks is further evidence of both my long term committeemen to the stories on which I work, my ability to execute complex project and to create impact. This documentary investigates the social, emotional and physical causes and consequences of normalized violence against women perpetrated under the guise of tradition in Nepal and India.

Comprising of an extensive set of still photograph, interviews and three VR (virtual reality) films this project has been widely published and distributed. The films are currently distributed by the Tribeca Film Institute and premiered at the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I have presented the project SXSW in 2019 and was selected to Sundance New Frontiers Lab, shortlisted for the Sheffield Doc Fest Alternate Realities Lab and selected for the Sheffield Doc Fest Meat Market.

Blood Speaks has placed menstrual taboos and blood politics on the international agenda, featuring in such publications as National Geographic, TIME, The New York Times and NPR to name just a few. The project achieved major impact when the Nepalese government criminalised the practice of menstrual exile in August 2018. Throughout I have worked to create visibility around menstrual related issues. For instance, I launched the campaign #MyBodyIsMine on World Menstruation Day with ActionAid (2018); and, To Be A Girl, with WaterAid, raised £2 million providing 130,000 girls with reusable sanitary kits and built toilets (2014). As a result Amnesty International called me a “brilliant human rights activists breaking the taboos surrounding menstruation” in 2019. And I was featured by Refinery29, alongside Hilary Clinton, as one of the most Amazing Women from Around the World Giving their Best Advice.

The three films detail the stories of three women and are a meditation on exile, isolation and courage in the face of extreme adversity. But they are not stories of passive victims. The women have come forward to share their stories and break taboos. Their participation in the project is a subtle form of dissent and protest. The resulting work it is a testament to their resilience.