Cinereach, a not-for-profit film production company and foundation that champions vital stories, announced $350,000 in grants to 17 feature-length film projects in 2011. One of these is ‘Powerless’, a movie based on the power crisis of the Uttar Pradesh district of Kanpur.
A 28-year-old electrician living in Kanpur is renowned for his prowess in stealing electricity. He is a robin-hood figure, stealing electricity and charging the rich to provide free connections in impoverished neighborhoods. In the face of day-long power-cuts, he runs illegal connections from one neighborhood to another so that homes, factories and businesses could function normally. On the other hand, the city administration is renewing efforts to clamp down on power-theft, which costs them millions of rupees in losses each year. Yearly drives to remove illegal connections are met with street protests and anger.
In the meantime, lack of electricity drives people to use generators run on fossil fuels. This is choking the town, making Kanpur one of the most polluted cities in India. A picture emerges of a modern dystopia encompassing urban decay and desperation in the lack of electricity.
Underlying the localized crisis in Kanpur, India’s leather capital, which provides raw material to major western brands, is the glaring energy poverty in the country, where a third of the population is bereft of this basic need, and the rest grapple with power-cuts that dictate their own terms. Powerless puts a lens to an unexplored narrative of one of the world’s fastest developing economies.
The making of ‘Powerless’ is being supported by the Jan Vrijman Fund of the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam and the Asian Cinema Fund/Asian Network for Documentaries of the Busan International Film Festival. It also received grants from the Erasmus Mundus Global Studies Program and the Erasmus Mundus Alumni Association.
Sustainable Business: The UK’s No.1 Magazine on Climate Change and Business are associate partners for Powerless. Any support for Powerless would find coverage in the UK with Sustainable Business.
Of the over 1000 applications from filmmakers across 70 countries, ‘Powerless’ became one of the 17 films to be selected.
The director of the film Fahad Mustafa’s first feature-length documentary FC Chechnya was premiered at the 2010 This Human World Film Festival in Vienna and won the Audience Award for Best Film. Born in Kanpur Fahad has lived, studied and worked in India, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Previously, Fahad was a researcher with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and a freelance writer on energy and development issues in India. He was also Assistant Director of Hot as Hell (2006), a documentary on underground fires that plague coal mines in India.
The Co-Director/Producer of the film Deepti Kakkar has worked on several projects in the field of sustainable livelihood development focusing on South Asia, with international NGOs and research groups. She was an Erasmus Mundus Scholar and has previously directed a film on microfinance in India for CARE. Deepti worked on story-development and as production manager on FC Chechnya.
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