The Ghetto Girl
Documentary, 28 mins, India
Credits: Director, Producer, Editor, Second Camera
On September 19, 2008 I was walking on this road that leads home. Before leaving work - my office at Jamia Millia Islamia, I had heard police sirens and gun shots. The road was lined by hundreds of police men. This was Operation Batla House. The Police shot Atif Ameen and Mohammed Sajjad; whom they alleged were Indian Mujahideen terrorists. Mohammed Saif and Zeeshan were arrested and the Police claimed one of the alleged terrorists- Ariz Khan had escaped. These men had come to New Delhi from Azamgarh to build their lives. It is the town my parents came from. Within the course of a night it became 'Aatank Ka Garh'- Home of the Terrorists on national TV. The idea 'innocent until proven guilty' was thrown out of the window. The men were shot in their homes in broad daylight. Indian news channels linked the men to 9/11. Apart from a battery of media vans and the Police, this road was deserted as I walked. I met a traumatized eight-yr-old who was at school when the shootings started and the Police pulled out the blood soaked bodies. He looked at me. He did not speak.
The Ghetto Girl is a personal video essay that explores what it means to survive as a community. As a bricolage of documentary techniques, the film combines cinema verite with performative and poetic segments to experiment with a form which is at once personal and political.
The film was censored for Television broadcast in India.
“An intimate and personal exploration of the intersectional experience of Muslim women in India”.
Urvashi Butalia, noted Indian feminist writer, publisher and activist.
“A "transgression" of borders by even observing, and certainly of using the camera. Your transgression of being a woman and pressing your point. And the utter exclusion, the wall that is erected in response---the categorical exclusion of your body and mind, and the exclusion of your gaze. A powerful, dense, incisive piece”.
Sarah Drury, NYC based Artist and Curator.
Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival, Best Graduate Student Film Award, American Anthropological Association, USA 2014
Indian Documentary Producers Association Award for Excellence, India 2012
Special Jury Award, Federation of Film Societies of India-SIGNS, 2012
Art Creates Change, Kym Preusse Speaker Series, Toronto, Canada
Borders in a Single Shot: After Farocki / Ehmann’s Labor in a Single Shot, The Farocki Academy, Berlin
Official Selection, International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul, S. Korea
Official Selection, Tempo Dokumentär Festival, Stockholm
Official Selection International Association of Women in Radio and Television, Our Lives to Live
Official Selection, International Film Festival of Kerala, India
Official Selection, The Open Frame Film Festival, India
Elephants in the Dark, Refractions on Muslim Identity, Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology
International Visual Sociology Association, New York
International Conference on Islam, Gender and Youth in South and South-East Asia, Berlin
Deptt. of Visual Anthropology, Towson University, Washington DC
Huret and Specter Gallery, Boston
William Harris Gallery, Rochester Institute of Technology
Young India Fellowship Program, Ashoka University, India
Kriti, New Delhi, India
Alliance Française, Mumbai, India
Editing Consultant: Sikay Tang
Cinematographer: Shakeb Ahmed
Distribution: The Public Service Broadcasting Trust, India
Related: Tales From a Place Less Travelled