Friday, May 13, 2011

Good Samaritan Family Resource Center visit

As part of the San Francisco International Film Festival's outreach to local schools, I visited the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center in San Francisco this past weekend, where I screened 'Topi' for a group of nine inquisitive 8th-graders.

In our introduction prior to the screening, it became clear that the children had not been taught much Indian history in school. But they picked up the message and ideas in the film quickly, and raised many insightful questions afterwards. Many of the children were Latin American and could see the parallels between the British Empire and the Spanish colonization of the Americas. They were familiar with Mahatma Gandhi, and I was able to use the film as a tool to discuss his role in this period of Indian history.

We had a thought-provoking discussion about the meaning of the prayer cap, religious conflicts, and many other aspects of the film. But inevitably, many of their questions were about India in general and there was a real curiosity about this faraway part of the world. Among my favorites: 'Are there gangs in India?' 'Do people dance a lot in India?' 'Are you the little boy in the film?' In fact, there were so many questions that we could not get to all of them in the hour-long visit.

Too often at a film festival, I end up analyzing films solely on the basis of individual aspects such as sound, story, cinematography, etc. But this visit brought me back to the idea that a film is a window to an entire world, real or imagined. Without a doubt, this has been the most rewarding screening of 'Topi' to date.

(Thanks to SFIFF's Rocio Salazar for organizing the visit and to Andrea Chicas from the Good Samaritan Youth and Youth Services for hosting us).

No comments: