Film Synopsis: “Soma Girls”
If recent news reports are to be believed, India has been feted as the next global superpower. However as India flourishes with an influx of corporate monies and urban development cities like Kolkata are dealing with a dark underbelly of urban issues. Kalighat is one of the largest red light districts in the city with most of the sex workers coming from outside Kolkata; some from as far away as Nepal and Bangladesh. But whatever their origin, their reasons for being in the profession are mostly the same: they were tricked, forced, or sold into the trade since they were teenagers or younger.
The chances that the children of sex workers will be forced to earn their living similarly is very high. With this in mind, social worker, Urmi Basu started Soma Home, a hostel for girls. The 30 girls living in the home are mostly daughters of sex workers or come from poor families and run the risk of being forced into prostitution. Because of that risk, Soma Home has been placed far away from Kalighat and is therefore inaccessible to the pimps that ‘manage’ the mothers of many of these children.
Each girl at Soma Home is painfully aware of their individual circumstances but yet they play, dance, study and speak of wanting to grow up, to become independent and find a way to get their mothers and sisters out of the trade.
Nandini Sikand (Co-Director) Born and raised in New Delhi, Nandini Sikand is an independent filmmaker and Odissi dancer based in New York City. Her films include The Bhangra Wrap (1995, distributed by NAATA), Don’t Fence Me In (1998, distributed by Women Make Movies), Amazonia (2001, distributed by Women Make Movies) and In Whose Name? (distributed by Third World Newsreel, 2004). All her films have won awards and have screened at over a hundred domestic and international film festivals. Nandini has been awarded grants for her films from The Jerome Foundation (1997-98) and New York State Council on the Arts (2002 and 2010). She also produced the documentary, Mahasweta Devi: Witness, Advocate, Writer (2001). She served on the board of directors of Women Make Movies, a non-profit feminist, media distribution organization from 1997-2006. She was the selected artist for the Film/Video Arts 2003 Artist Mentor Workshop. She is on the Fulbright IIE National Selection committee for film and video for 2008-09 & 2009-10. In television, she has worked on projects for Channel Four: UK, Rainbow Programming, Ovation: the Arts Network, HBO, Oxygen Media and The History Channel. She is also pursuing a PhD in Cultural Anthropology at The Graduate Center, CUNY and has taught courses on production and film theory at Hunter College, Swarthmore College and Hofstra University. Nandini is also a dancer trained in Odissi and is the co-founder and co-director of the Odissi dance company, Sakshi Productions (www.sakshiproductions.org)
Alexia Prichard (Co-Director) Alexia is an independent filmmaker, videographer and editor, based in Boston. Most recently she was Senior Video Producer/Editor for AOL web properties Propeller.com, Black Voices, AOL Latina, and Green Daily for whom she created and produced an online series on sustainability. In 2008, Alexia covered the Democratic and Republican National Conventions for AOL News and Propeller. Among her numerous editing credits, feature documentary work includes: Call Me Horacio, about the effects of Argentina’s Dirty War on one young man; The Baja Wave Document, about the destructive development along the Baja CA coast; and Discovering: Shuktara, about a home for deaf and disabled boys and girls in Kolkata, India. Alexia is currently in production on The Dirty Truth About Coal, a documentary about the health effects of coal production, and in pre-production on a documentary about a rare breed of cow. Alexia is the founder and executive producer of Closed Loop Films (www.closedloopfilms.com), a production company focused on issues of environmental and social justice.