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DDocumentary Competition

The World Before Her

The World Before Her

Original Title: The World Before Her
Director: Nisha Pahuja
Canada | English, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi
2012 | 90min. | Colour
Subtitles: Arabic and English
Format: HDCAM
15+
“We, as a country, should move forward; a lot of people think that if you allow a woman to work and get modern and get educated you lose your culture and heritage.' “Whatever I am thinking, whatever I am going to do, whatever I am thinking for my life is against the system for which I am fighting.' Those similar statements belong to two very different young Indian women.

The first is attending a boot camp in Mumbai that will transform her into the perfect candidate for Miss India. Her weapons are Botox and make-up. The second is thousands of miles away at a very different boot camp, run by Durga Vahini (Army of Durga), the women’s branch of a Hindu fundamentalist movement. There they learn to use real weapons.

In both camps, young women believe they are making their own decisions and contributing to shape a different future for Indian women. Miss India advocates progress and freedom for women but actually imports the worst of the western world, exploiting and degrading the participants. The Hindu camp, in the name of respect for tradition and heritage, teaches the young campers violence, racism, and hate toward Christians and Muslims. With incredible access to the young women on both sides, Nisha Pahuja – the first filmmaker allowed in a Durga Vahini camp – and her extraordinary editor David Kazala craft a vivid portrait of two entities that claim to liberate women yet manipulate them.

Pahuja’s ability to balance the two realities is exemplary, as is her tender, non-judgmental approach. Nevertheless the message is clear: in contemporary India, the road to true self-determination and real freedom of choice for women is still paved with insidious obstacles, male hostility and social manipulation.

– Teresa Cavina

Director,  Nisha Pahuja

Director,  Nisha Pahuja

Nisha Pahuja was born in New Delhi and raised in Toronto. She began her career as a documentary researcher. Her first film, Bollywood Bound (2001), was nominated for a Gemini Award. She co-wrote and directed Diamond Road (2007), a three-part television series. The feature version premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The World Before Her is her third film.

Cast and Crew

Director
Nisha Pahuja
Production Company
Storyline Entertainment
Music
Ken Myhr
Producer
Nisha Pahuja, Ed Barreveld, Cornelia Principe
Screenwriter
Nisha Pahuja
Editor
David Kazala
Cinematographer
Mrinal Desai, Derek Rogers
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