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Fire in our hearts

Event Schedule > Fire in our hearts

Director: Jayshree Janu Kharpade
Running time: 28 mins
Marathi w/English Subtitles

FIRE IN OUR HEARTS is an autobiographical film written and directed by a 15-year-old schoolgirl, Jayshree Janu Kharpade, a native of India whose family were bonded laborers. Working as her own camerawoman, Jayshree offers us a unique window into the lives of people known in India as tribals — indigenous people who, like the Native Americans of the United States, have been disenfranchised and forced to the very bottom of India’s poverty ladder. Like many Indian tribal people, Jayshree’s entire family labored for generations in paddy fields and at sweltering brick kiln sites through indentured servitude. Both sons and daughters were kept out of school to look after their younger siblings.

Twenty years ago, largely through old-fashioned community organizing, a group of tribals north of Mumbai formed a union, declaring themselves free of bondage. Ten years ago, and 50,000 members strong, the union decided to build a school for their daughters. Jayshree now lives and studies at the school with 200 other girls. As she says early on in her film, ‘Me and all the girls at my school are the lucky ones. We are the first generation who will not be illiterate like our mothers.’ At 28 minutes, Jayshree’s film introduces us to her family, village life, the girls at her school, the brick kiln sites. Through it all, we witness courage and the conviction to learn and to give back to others.

The film is dedicated to Jayshree’s mother who died two weeks before Jayshree began filming.

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