Children of the Pyre
Rajesh S. Jala
India/ Hindi (Eng. Subs)/ 2008/ 74 min.
Directed by Rajesh S. Jala, Children of the Pyre is a documentary about seven remarkable children who have been brought up in Varanasi and have been making a living by cremating the dead at Manikarnika, one of the busiest cremation grounds of India. The film is a compelling real-life, self-narrative of seven extraordinary children who make their living out of the dead. They collect; snatch or steal used coffin shrouds and sell them for petty amounts in order to ensure their own and their family';s survival. Tempered by the heat of the pyre, strengthened in the face of adversities and crafted by a volley of abuses, these imps weave through the pyres and struggle through disdain in this land of the dead. Laughing, smiling, weeping, fighting and shouting, these children run the race for survival - winning it again and again - everyday. The film is a terrible saga of exploitation that celebrates the victory of innocence over the most harrowing realities of life. It';s a torturous journey through seared bodies, callous minds and dead consciences that constitute the human reality of the Ghats at Varanasi.
Montréal World Film Festival, 2008 – Best Documentary
Sao Paulo International Film Festival, 2008 - Best Documentary
IFFLA, USA 2009 – Best Documentary
National Awards, India 2009 – Special Jury Award & Best Audiography
Asiatica Film Mediale, Rome 2009 – Best Documentary
IDPA-Indian Documentary Producers Association 2009 – Best Documentary & Best Cinematography
Jeevika: Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival, 2009 – Special Jury Award