TIFF 2022 Women Directors: Nisha Pahuja – “To Kill a Tiger”
Nisha Pahuja is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker based in Toronto and Bombay. Her credits include the critically-acclaimed “Diamond Road,” “Bollywood Bound,” and “The World Before Her,” the latter of which won honors from Tribeca Film Festival and Hot Docs Film Festival. Pahuja’s short film for Global’s “16/9” about the Delhi Gang rape was the recipient of an Amnesty International media award for Canadian journalism in 2015.
Women and Hollywood
Mindy Kaling endorses Toronto filmmaker Nisha Pahuja’s doc at TIFF
Pahuja’s poignant film shares one family’s devastating story and an urgent message about the staggering violence against women and girls in India.
In a small village, Ranjit wakes up to find that his 13-year-old daughter has not returned from a family wedding. A few hours later, she’s found stumbling home. After being dragged into the woods, she was raped by three men. Ranjit goes to the police, and the men are arrested. But Ranjit’s relief is short-lived, as the villagers and their leaders launch a sustained campaign to force the family to drop the charges.
She Does The City
A film that strikes you at your core Nisha Pahuja’s harrowing and uncomfortable To Kill A Tiger shows us that hope can always grow, even in the most hopeless of situations -utterly fantastic.
Nisha Pahuja’s To Kill A Tiger is such a brave film. Brave due to the story it is telling, brave for Ranjit and his daughter to be a part of the film and brave for those to square up to almost clashes to show us that this type of horrible thing happens. This fight for justice for a daughter is as compelling as they come, with Pahuja’s observation filmmaking allowing us to have access to comments and situations you forget still exist in the world.
Upcoming On Screen
‘Beijing Spring’ Review: The Politics of Aesthetics
Can art effect real change in the world? To this ever-urgent question, “Beijing Spring” — a new documentary about the titular movement for democratic expression that exploded in the wake of the Cultural Revolution in China — responds with a resounding yes.
New York Times
"Heroic artists shine in ‘Beijing Spring’"
You’ve probably heard of the protests and liberalization of the Prague Spring in 1968. A similar but not nearly as well-known movement of Chinese artists and democracy activists took place in the late ‘70s – and is the subject of a fascinating documentary, Beijing Spring, which will be shown as part of the Epos Art Film Festival (www.filmart.co.il). Epos will run from May 1-8 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, with some screenings at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.
The Jerusalem Post
Beijing Spring : la naissance de l’art dans la censure
À la croisée des chemins entre un cours magistral, une exposition et un film, Beijing Spring nous fait parcourir un pan méconnu et pourtant si riche de l’histoire de l’art en Chine. Présenté actuellement au Festival International du Film sur l’Art (FIFA), ce long-métrage d’Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross nous tient en haleine, nous éduque et nous émerveille en mêlant images d’archives et témoignages des artistes qui ont élevé leur voix contre la censure à la fin des années 70.
CAPITAL THAW: BEIJING DISSIDENTS ON FILM
The title of Beijing Spring (2021) -Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross’s heartfelt, candid, and well-crafted documentary - refers to a brief, tumultuous watershed in Chinese history that began with Mao Zedong’s death in September 1976 and ended with the crackdown on Beijing’s Democracy Wall (a public forum of sorts where citizens put up big-character posters critiquing societal issues); the arrest of activist Wei Jingsheng, who racked up 18 years in Chinese prisons; and the shutdown of the avant-garde Stars Art Group’s open-air exhibition in late 1979.
Art Asia Pacific
Don J. Cohn
Lors de cet entretien, Andy Cohen revient sur ce qui l’a amené à réaliser «Beijing Spring». A travers un film d’archives 16 mm caché aux autorités chinoises pendant plus de trois décennies, il nous fait découvrir l’histoire censurée des « Étoiles »,
un group d’artistes underground
chinois dont les membres, à la mort de Mao Zedong, ont cherché à tout prix à librement s’exprimer et à protester - non sans lourdes conséquences ultérieures.
Davide Rodogno, David Brun Lambert, Martial Mingam, Julie Noyelle
November 28, 2019
Film Review: A Hero Comes Alive in AIDS Documentary “Ximei”
“Ximei focuses on one brave woman who is redefining the cultural perception of the (AIDS/HIV) condition.[…]The documentary develops a rare empathy for them (the subjects) that manages to seep off the screen.”
Film Festival Today
April 28, 2019
Ximei, la activista que desafía al gigante
“ Se llama Ximei y padece sida. En una zona rural china le transfundieron sangre contaminada con VIH. A partir de entonces se ha dedicado a decirle al mundo que en las áreas rurales de su país hay cientos de miles de personas que sufren lo mismo que ella y no cuentan con clínicas, medicamentos ni los tratamientos que requieren… una denuncia que a Beijing le irrita…”
March 19, 2019
Ximei documentary premieres at Geneva Human Rights Film Festival
“Amongst the highlights of this edition of the festival is the world premiere of the documentary film _Ximei,_ which is about an AIDS-infected peasant woman from rural China's Henan Province. Lui Ximei got AIDS infected in the late 1990s, when the Chinese government encouraged poor villagers to sell their blood plasma.”
Nisha Pahuja on her deeply challenging journey documenting one Indian family's fight for justice
It's hard to focus today. It's one of the last days of summer and I'm in the park. There's a wonderful young dad playing soccer with his little girl, and they're utterly delightful and distracting. And also, soccer balls have an uncanny way of finding my head...
I should move, but I'm a creature of habit, and this table under this tree is my favourite spot in the park — central enough to feel like I'm inside it but removed enough to observe. A safe distance. My friends tell me this is how I move through the world — but without any trace of elegant stealth.
Daringly interrogates age-old customs in favor of human rights
The Scotiabank theater was packed at the world premiere of “To Kill A Tiger,” the latest in independent filmmaker Nisha Pahuja’s oeuvre. Though Pahuja is based in Toronto, her work has often ventured into the Indian subcontinent. Her debut documentary, “Bollywood Bound” (2002), follows four Indian Canadians in their pursuit of stardom. Her second, “The World Before Her” (2012) explores the feminine ideal in beauty pageants and Hindu nationalism. Now, in her latest, she takes a deep, hard look at local standards of masculinity. “To Kill A Tiger” daringly interrogates age-old customs in favor of human rights, questioning the very basis of fairness in a modernizing country.
Asian Movie Pulse
With To Kill a Tiger, director Nisha Pahuja has crafted a documentary that grips the audience with the suspense and twists of a John Grisham thriller, only the stakes here are considerably higher.
To Kill a Tiger is set in the small village of Jharkhand, India. A 13-year-old girl collapses in the doorway of her home after surviving a brutal assault by three men—her cousin among the attackers. There is little doubt about the guilt of the accused, but in Jharkhand—as in thousands of villages across India—the crime is treated with the gravity of a domestic dispute and thought best to be dealt with within the community. The community advises Ranjit, the girl’s father, to marry his daughter off to one of her rapists because who else will want her now that she’s ‘stained’? But Ranjit does the unthinkable and stands by his daughter’s wishes to seek justice outside the village. Although his decision gains national attention, it ostracizes his family from their neighbours, garnering ridicule, scorn, and even threats.
Authoritarian regimes often serve as breeding grounds for serious artistic movements, creative souls inspired by imposed restrictions to rise above them, risk be damned. In Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross’ new documentary Beijing Spring, the directors examine China in the year 1979, as new leader Deng Xiaoping appeared to be on the verge of opening up the country to a semblance of democracy. As an opening onscreen quote from the great 19th-century philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville reads, “The most perilous moment for a repressive government is when it seeks reform.” Perhaps, but what we witness ends up being more dangerous for the artists, themselves. Whatever Chairman Deng’s original intentions, he was not about to allow actual dissent to last for long.
Hammer to Nail
Radio Free Asia
«Beijing Spring»: Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross racontent une Chine sans censure
En 1979, plaignants, artistes, poètes et activistes donnent vie au «Mur de la démocratie». C’est le premier «printemps de Pékin». Il fut filmé par un réalisateur Il faut sans doute être dans la peau d’un artiste chinois pour saisir tout le poids du mot « liberté ». Le documentaire Beijing Spring, présenté en ouverture du 39e Festival international du film sur l’art, le 16 mars, en fait la troublante démonstration. Les cinéastes Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross ont construit leur film autour d’images d’archives inédites, mises à l’abri du gouvernement chinois pendant plus de 40 ans.Ils racontent l’essor, constamment contrarié par les autorités, d’un groupe d’artistes chinois, après la terrible répression de la Révolution culturelle et la mort de Mao Tsé-Toung.. Quarante ans plus tard, Andy Cohen lui redonne vie
«Beijing Spring», témoignage inédit d’une expérience démocratique
"Fin des années 70 à Pékin. Dans un éphémère espace de liberté, artistes et activistes (dont Wei Jingsheng, Xu Wenli et le jeune Ai Weiwei) se retrouvent autour du Mur de la démocratie, le réalisateur américain Andy Cohen retrace cette histoire inconnue."
October 25, 2019
Review: ‘Ximei’ chronicles a Chinese woman’s fight for AIDS victims
“No wonder China was so concerned about the production of Ximei; the documentary shines a light on the government’s shameful treatment of its citizens with AIDS ...But this isn’t simply a damning indictment of the nation; it is a hopeful celebration of one woman’s activism and kindness in the face of her own struggle with AIDS."
Los Angeles Times
XIMEI: Une lucarne poignante sur le scandale du sang contaminé et le stigmate du VIH en Chine
“Aujourd’hui, ce film traite d’un sujet plus que jamais actuel: près de 30 ans après la première épidémie, le sida continue de nécroser la Chine. En témoigne le scandale qui a éclaté en février 2019 sur les 12’000 poches de sang infectées et qui ont dû être retirées de la circulation par les hôpitaux.”
Nisha Pahuja: 'When you want to change something, telling someone that they are wrong is never the solution'
To Kill a Tiger provides a timely look at the dynamics of a village in Jharkhand, which could be similar to any rural region in India. While a steady stream of cases of violence against girls even today may prompt a discouraging conclusion that not much has changed, the story of Ranjit’s daughter is a pointer to how things could indeed change. Her trauma not only made “J” determined to bring her attackers to justice, but also sparked her aspiration to become a police officer and perhaps deliver justice to another victim herself. That’s change.
The Tiger Roars
Nisha Pahuja’s To Kill a Tiger is a powerful portrait of a family's strength
“Do you think it’s wrong that we involved the police?” Jaganti asks filmmaker Nisha Pahuja. The mother’s direct address to the camera in Pahuja’s new film To Kill a Tiger evocatively breaks the fourth wall. Jaganti, feeling the pressure put on her family by local villagers, worries that she and her husband, Ranjit, erred by coming forward. The crime they reported, however, is a parent’s worst nightmare. To Kill a Tiger observes as the parents wonder what to do after three men rape their 13-year-old daughter while walking home from a family wedding. One of the assailants, moreover, is her cousin.
Two documentaries distill the struggle of political dissent in China decades apart
The act of protesting in China is not to be entered into lightly considering the consequences: exile, imprisonment and worse. A pair of new documentaries takes us inside two of the more noteworthy, and globally recognized, stands against China’s authoritarian rule — an unsanctioned public art exhibit in 1979 organized by self-taught artists, their experiences fighting for individuality and democracy recounted in “Beijing Spring,” and, 40 years later, the citywide Hong Kong protests that challenged mainland China’s encroachment on the territory’s long-cherished autonomy, the subject of “Revolution of Our Times.”
Los Angeles Times
"Beijing Spring: Documenting the Thaw After the Cultural Revolution"
For Chinese artists, things could only get better when the Cultural Revolution ended—and they did—to an extent—for a while. During the thaw of the early Deng years, a group of artists emerged that pushed for liberalization in the artistic sphere and more democratic governance. Many of them are now living abroad (for obvious reasons). Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross chronicle the “Stars Art Group and the related samizdat magazines that revolved around Beijing’s short-lived “Democracy Wall” in Beijing Spring, which opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.
Beijing Spring, documentaire d'Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross.
À visionner Beijing Spring, le documentaire qui ouvre la 39e édition du FIFA à Montréal, on sait la barre haut placée. Quelle émotion lorsqu’on suit Andy Cohen et Gaylen Ross retraçant l’histoire de la Chine autour du Mur de la Démocratie, où se sont fracassés les idéaux révolutionnaires.
Andy Cohen on his film Ximei / VOX / Human Rights Film Festival Berlin 2020
Ximei (gesprochen Schimäy) hat AIDS. Und Schuld daran ist die chinesische Re-gierung. Die hat nämlich 1990 eine Blutspenden-Kampagne ins Leben gerufen, die hundertausende Menschen mit dem HI-Virus angesteckt hat. Die Doku "Xi-mei", läuft gerade beim Human Rights Filmfestival und macht einen tödli-chen Skandal endlich international be-kannt.
VOX Nachrichten Germany
September 2, 2019
China and the Golden Veins of Henan: A film-maker’s view documentary premieres at Geneva Human Rights Film Festival
“In the end, Ximei brings her patients a measure of dignity and humanity. By holding the authorities’ feet to the fire,speaking out against unfair treatment, the existence of every individual is validated.”
March 28, 2019
La Via della Seta ha un baco, i diritti umani
« Lo Stato cinese ha permesso che il virus dell'Aids si impossessasse del corpo di Ximei, una bambina di circa 10 anni della provincia rurale di Henan che, a causa di un intervento chirurgico, ha avuto bisogno di sangue, ma le hanno iniettato quello infetto. »