by Mathew Scott.
Indian filmmaker Balaka Ghosh seems to be summing up the predicament faced by so many documentary makers in Asia when she says it wasn’t so much the making of her most recent production that gave her sleepless nights, but the thought of the impact its release might have on its subjects once she had packed up her cameras and gone.
“You point your camera at these people, and in many cases, they open up to you and let you into their lives,” she says. “But the worry for us – particularly in Asia – is what we leave behind when the film is screened. We are often dealing with such sensitive subjects and cultures that can often be quite secretive. What will the film’s impact be on these people who have been so generous with their time? How will it affect their standing in their own society and the people they have to deal with every day?”
Ghosh has been making documentaries out of her base in Calcutta for the past 20 years and her latest production, Footprints in the Desert from 2013, is a prime example of not only the diversity of subject matter being explored across the genre in Asia, but also the lengths these filmmakers sometimes go to get their projects made and the problems they face while doing so.
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