Indian film wins award at Intercom Fest

MUMBAI: The Indian film, Breaking Barriers, actually 'broke barriers' at The International Communications (Intercom) Film and Video Festival, Chicago. It was the only Indian film to have won an award in a competition filled with hundreds of entries from across the world.

Produced by Wide Angle Films and directed by Sujata Kulshreshtha, Breaking Barriers will be screened at the 39th Chicago International Film Festival in October this year.

Kulshreshtha, a graduate of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, has completed a five-and-a-half-year course in visual communication and has been producing documentaries, corporate videos and commercials for over 15 years.

This is the second international award she has received, the first being for a tourism film, at the Karlovy Vary Festival in Czekoslovakia.

Breaking Barriers has been directed in a remote district of Musabani in the state of Jharkhand. It is the story of seven illiterate tribal girls who were trained to be hand-pump mechanics.

In 1999, a survey had revealed that a large number of hand-pumps in the region were nonfunctional; and as a result, women needed to walk long distances to fetch drinking water. As a result, young girls missed school because of this inconvenience.

Since the situation directly affected the lives of women, a pilot project was initiated for training a group of women in mechanics. This was sponsored by Unicef, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the government of Jharkhand.

Later on, it was found that the women far exceeded the expectations and completely outshone the men who were also being trained alongside.

Breaking Barriers was made to document the success of the project - the women's journey from being powerless over their circumstances, to being 'empowered' and 'in control', breaking the gender barrier. It defied the beliefs of the villagers that girls can't acquire technical or mechanical skills.s

Breaking Barriers is a motivational, inspirational documentation and serves to catalyse greater community involvement in finding solutions to common problems.

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