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Sun and Moon and the God of Rain

by Anna Pitscheider

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Sun and Moon and the God of Rain


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90 million indigenous people live in India. They call themselves "Adivasi", meaning original / first inhabitants. Warli is the name of a large indigenous group based in the forests of the Sahyadri mountains of Thane district of Maharashtra, West India. Indigenous communities built their civilisation centred round nature's bounty, a balance reflected in the non-appropriative, non accumulative, subsistence economy, a relationship with the land and the forest that seeks not to own but to belong, not to extract but to access, not to aggress but to share equitably.

Over the centuries, wave upon wave of outsiders from the Indo-Aryans to British colonials moved across their lands and the indigenous people slowly transformed. Still the Warlis celebrate nature, and the forest, to be worshipped as the entity that sustains all life, including theirs. But contemporary reality implies different levels of transformation: a tradition which has always been in the hands of women is now opening to men: the creation of mural paintings as part of a wedding ritual, seeking communication among themselves and with the outside world to invoke the power of the Gods.

Jivya Soma Mashe is the first man in his tribe who has been able to make a break with his tradition and yet carry it forward. Since the '70 his artwork has been shown in museums and galleries in Paris, London, Germany, Italy, Japan...

The film begins with an interview with Jivya Soma Mashe who rose to fame in the '70s as the first male warli painter, passionately dedicating himself to painting on a daily basis thereby breaking with the female ritual tradition. The primary questions for human beings are very simple: "where does happiness come from?", "where does unhappiness come from?", "is there anything permanent in this planet?".

STATEMENT BY THE DIRECTOR, ANNA PITSCHEIDER:
I wanted to explore an indigenous (animist) world, confining my study to an apparently isolated microcosm and describing it during an event. I wanted to witness a real ceremony - the creation of a mural painting related to the ritual of matrimony - and film it without disrupting the original atmosphere with the presence of a crew or intrusive equipment. To progressively get closer to the village people I had, as my only mediator a hindu translator who was able to communicate with them also on the basis of his perceptions.

Because my work as film director is often concerned with the process behind an art-work, (painting, design, architecture, dance), I felt it was possible to portrait a reality which was new for me, lending the tools and the focus I was familiar with. A way to learn from life. I believe that being a documentare, the film language shouldn't betray reality. Of course what is reality is always in discussion, (since observing an event make it a bit different anyway), so it's easier to try avoiding what is not real.

My work is often a compromise between what would be possible to shoot, given certain circumstances, and what I am ready to shoot (what means also: how, when, why...) While i was shooting I discovered Mashe was only three years old when his mother died. The experience shocked him so deeply that he could not speak until after his fourth year. He retreated into himself and began to draw signs into the ground. I never wanted to openly ask Mashe about the link between a so deep and primar sadness, and the instinctive activity that drove him through painting to reconnect to the earth, the overall mother. This has touched me as it is a universal story.

Minutely painted on cowdung and geru background, to describe the secret life of the forest and the village, his painting is the raising of an individual out of a coral and collective expression of life.

BIOGRAPHY:
Born in Milan in 1966. Anna Pitscheider is an Italian author and filmmaker. She received her PHD in 1996 in Arts, Philosophy, Art and Film Semiotics and film theory. Her first book SALLY POTTER, WORKING WITH ACTORS was published in 1997 and was an extract of her thesis. The book tells Anna's working experience with Sally Potter and her production house in London during the production of TANGO LESSON.

From 1988 to 1991 she worked as director assistant for Alessandro D'Alatri, Maurizio Nichetti and Wim Wenders among others, production and casting assistant with various production houses in the creation of advertising campaigns. Anna Pitscheider is a versatile author and looks after each aspect of her works from inception to fruition, and while filming operates the camera herself. During the film editing she collaborates with composers to create original soundtracks.

From 2000 she has been working as documentary and art filmmaker with various artists. The Alessi Museum invited her to create video portraits of world celebrated designers. Achille Castiglioni, Ettore Sottsass, Richard Sapper, Alessandro Mendini, Andrea Branzi, Stefano Giovannoni, Will Alsop, Wiel Arets, MVRDV, Gary Chang, UN Studio, Gregg Lynn, Thom Mayne, Tom Kovac, Dezso Ekler, Toyo Ito, Massimiliano e Doriana Fuksas, Dominique Perrault, Future Systems, Juan Navarro Baldeweg, SANAA, David Chipperfield. Fascinated by Indian Culture, she spends part of the year travelling, living and working extensively in India.

Among her Indian projects she directed and filmed "SUN AND MOON AND THE GOD OF RAIN" in 2004. This is a film on the ritual painting of the Warli tribe and was presented at the International Film Festival in Locarno and at the PAC in Milan during the exhibition "RICHARD LONG and JIVYA SOMA MASHE, AN ENCOUNTER". In 2006 she realised "KALASAM", Indian Stories on Microcredit, presented in Rome at the ASIATICAFILMEDIALE. This film shows some aspects of rural life in Tamil Nadu where women are improving their conditions thanks to microcredit projects. She has recently started publishing the photographs taken during her journeys to India featuring the world of Brahmins.

www.pitscheider-studio.net

57th FESTIVAL INTERNAZIONALE DEL FILM LOCARNO
- 2004 FILMMAKER OF THE PRESENT
River to River: FLORENCE INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL - 2004 EYES ON INDIA
PAC (Padiglione d`Arte Contemporanea) - 2004 INCONTRO IN INDIA-RICHARD
LONG-SOMA MASHE
TOKIO - GOA. SPIRITUAL FILM FESTIVAL - 2005
MILAN FILM FESTIVAL - 2005 SGUARDI ALTROVE 
CIFF (CHENNAI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL) - 2005
VENICE. I.U.A.V. FACULTY OF ART & DESIGN - 2006 DOCUMENTART
Birth of the Painted World - SHIPPENSBURG UNIVERSITY PENSYLVANIA - 2006
MILANO TRIENNALE DESIGN MUSEUM - 2010

 

 

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