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Filming hills for east-west harmony – European union funds documentary

Posted by Ramesh Khati on September 7, 2009

The Spanish crew in Kalimpong.

The Spanish crew in Kalimpong.

Kalimpong, Sept. 6(Telegraph): A Spanish crew is in town shooting a documentary on Gandhi Ashram School in particular and Kalimpong in general.

The documentary tentatively titled Fiddlers on the Thatch is partly funded by the European Union as one of its media programmes aimed at bringing the east and the west closer.

The Barcelona-based director of the film, Nestor Perera, said he saw in the school, which specialises in teaching Western music, particularly violin, and imparts free education to underprivileged children, a wonderful jugalbandi of the east and the west.

The school located at 6 Mile was founded in 1994 by a Jesuit priest from Canada, Father Ed McGuire, an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi. “I met Father McGuire in 2000 and we remained good friends till his death in 2005. He was the most sincere person I have met in my life. He always gave me the impression of being at peace from within,” said Perera.

The director was first here in 2000 coinciding with the visit of then US President Bill Clinton to India to do a feature story on Gandhi Ashram for CNN.

“After seeing the feature on television, the chairman of a European NGO came forward to help the ashram. Since the ashram runs on donation, I hope my documentary will help raise funds for it,” he added.

The documentary will also showcase the hill town and its people. “Kalimpong is a special place for schools. The schools have a huge impact on the local economy. So does floriculture. I will also touch on the movement for Gorkhaland,” said Perera, who has to his credit a wide-range of documentaries including one on Spanish fashion designer Davidelfin, the Bhopal gas tragedy and the natural medicines of Cuba.

The Barcelona-based Moo Productions and Enunai Productions are the co-producers of the documentary, which is expected to be complete by the middle of next year. The director, however, has not yet decided on the duration of the film. “Depending on the length of the film, it will either be aired on television or released in theatres.”

Perera, however, is certain that the film will not be a standard documentary. “It will be a creative documentary with a script as in a fiction film. I have chosen some characters who will re-create their journey to the ashram,” said the director, who seems to have taken a special liking for the town and its people, the pathetic conditions of “roads and Internet connectivity” notwithstanding.

Besides Perera, the four-member crew comprising director of photography Albert Serrado, sound engineer Kiko Abarquera and producer Laia Mello will complete the shooting by September 10.


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