Altar of Fire

By J. Frits Staal
45 min., 1976

This film records a 12-day ritual performed by Nambudiri Brahmins in Kerala, southwest India, in April 1975. This event was possibly the last performance of the Agnicayana, a Vedic ritual of sacrifice dating back 3,000 years and probably the oldest surviving ritual of mankind. Long considered extinct and never witnessed by outsiders, the ceremonies require the participation of seventeen priests, involve libations of Soma juice and oblations of other substances, and are preceded by several months of preparation and rehearsals. They include the construction from a thousand bricks of a fire altar in the shape of a bird.

After Shock

By Rakesh Sharma
65 min., (NTSC)

Aftershocks: the Rough Guide to Democracy
In a globalised world the economic interests of giant corporate companies come ever more in conflict with the basic needs of the common man. Here the lowest level of the Indian democracy, the Indian village, comes in the way of commercial development in the new world economy. Aftershock is a touching documentary from the Kutch (Gujarat, India) area, devastated by earthquake on January 26, 2001. Over twenty thousand people died and even more homes were destroyed. But this documentary is neither about the earthquake nor about brave relief volunteers. The director worked as a volunteer in the villages of Julrai and Umarsar. By accident he stumbles upon a delegation from the government-owned Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation while they are forcing people from their homes. The company officials see this earthquake as a god-given opportunity to acquire this land for their own benefit. People are being chased from their land without the rest of the worlds noticing. Not a single story of these events reached television or newspapers in India. The only report exists in the form a relief volunteers documentary, using a DV cam – digital video camera.

The director Rakesh Sharma has worked extensively in film and television since 1985. He works as a consultant for broadcasting channels in the areas of programming, on-air presentation and live television.

Afghanistan (Exploring the Taliban Revolution)

Produced by Films for Humanities and Sciences
24 min., VHS

In Afghanistan, the Taliban—militant Sunni fundamentalists schooled in Pakistan—have taken over almost all of the country. Will their jihad spread to the Sunni minority of Iran, igniting a rebellion against that country’s Shiite government? Or will Iran strike first, through the Shiite minority living in Afghanistan? This compelling report, filmed by the first crew to enter Afghanistan after America’s anti-terrorist air strikes in 1998, takes a firsthand look at both the results and the implications of the escalating tensions between Afghanistan and its neighbors.

Afghan Nomads: The Maldar

by David Hancock and Herbert DiGioia
21 min., 1974

At dawn a nomad caravan descends on Aq Kupruk from the foothills of the Hindu Kush. In their camp, and in commerce with the townspeople, the Maldar reveal the mixture of faith and distrust that has kept nomads and sedentary people separate and interdependent over the centuries. The theme of the film focuses on political and religious beliefs. The film and accompaning instructor notes in this series embrace five different and complex units of analysis concerning how political change occurs; individual attitudes, ethnic identity, national loyalties, institutional affiliations, and ideological beliefs.

A Woman’s Place

1-hour documentary
Writer: Paromita Vohra
Editors: Maria Nicolo & Talat Shah

A Woman’s Place is a national production of Maryland Public Television.

We bet you wouldn’t think that there would be similarities in the fight for equality in South Africa, India, and the Midwest in our own United States. Maryland Public Television’s program and companion Web site, A Woman’s Place profiles women from three different countries who are fighting for balance and equality in today’s world. The central question that the documentary explores is “Can new laws change old way?” The companion Web site provides an extensive, 36-page Educational Guide for the film and beyond.

A WOMAN’S PLACE Project is an international collaborative of women working through media and education to address issues of gender equity and contribute to the process of social change. The Project evolved from an international documentary series on issues of gender and power and now encompasses international outreach and education efforts as well as media education projects with women.

A Tribe of his Own: The Jounalism of P. Sainath

50 minutes- Grades: 10 – Adult
Produced by Moulins Media
Directed by Joe Moulins

At a time when government propaganda and corporate spin are increasing presented as fact, and a handful of corporations control the news, A Tribe of His Own reminds us what the news media can be. Believing that responsible journalism can help to change things for the better, Palagummi Sainath wrote a series of 70 articles for The Times of India, detailing the living conditions in the ten poorest districts of the country. After nearly a decade of work and dozens of awards, Sainath remains as passionately committed as ever. A Tribe of His Own follows Sainath to the Indian villages he writes about, exploring this contention that “journalism is for the people, not shareholders.”