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The 12 documentaries of Travelling Film South Asia 2010 (TFSA '10) are outstanding examples of non-fiction productions from this part of Asia. They represent the cream of the 35 documentaries screened in the competitive section of Kathmandu's Film South Asia '09, the 'mother festival'. The selection was made in consultation with FSA '09's three-member jury, chaired by Chennai-based cultural critic Sadanand Menon.

TFSA was the touring companion for Film South Asia right from the outset, back in 1997. There have been six TFSA tours so far, going to an average of 50 venues all over the world. The TFSA '10 package includes three of the award winners at FSA '09 – Yasmine Kabir's The Last Rites, Lalit Vachani's The Salt Stories, and Tanvir Mokammel's The Promised Land – as well as other films selected to showcase the variety, treatment and intensity that today mark the world of south Asian non-fiction film.

The Salt Stories (84')

India, 2008, dir – Lalit VachaniJoint Winner of the Second Best Film Award

In 1930, a group of Indians led by a frail, elderly man marched 241 miles. They marched for salt. Mahatma Gandhi was able to craft an anti-colonial, nationalist movement around a basic issue of livelihood: the right of Indians to make and consume their own salt. Almost eight decades later, the film retraces Gandhi's steps, following the famous Dandi salt march trail in a film that focuses on the issues of livelihood in modern, globalising India.

The Promised Land (90')

Bangladesh, 2008, dir – Tanvir Mokammel Joint Winner of the Second Best Film Award

A tale of statelessness spanning six decades and three countries, The Promised Land is about the 160,000 strong Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh, living isolated lives in 116 camps across the country. The terms 'Urdu-speakers', 'Non-Bengalis' and 'Biharis' are used interchangeably to refer to the Muslim people, who originally emigrated from India to newly created East Pakistan in 1947 and afterwards. Many of them originated from the state of Bihar and were fleeing large-scale communal massacres. Three decades later, during the struggle for independence in Bangladesh in 1971, this community became embroiled in conflict. Branded as collaborators against Bangladesh's independence, this moment was a defining one for the Urdu-speakers, one that has left a devastating legacy.

The Last Rites (17')

Bangladesh, 2008, dir – Yasmine Kabir Winner of the Ram Bahadur Trophy for Best Film

A silent film depicting the ship-breaking yards of Chittagong, Bangladesh, a final destination for ships too old to ply the oceans. Every year, hundreds of ships are sent to these yards. And every year, thousands of people come to these yards in search of jobs. Risking their lives to save themselves from hunger, they breathe in asbestos dust and toxic waste. The ship has to die and man has to help it die, as if man and vessel were united in common bondage. The Last Rites bears testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Film South Asia '09
The seventh edition of Film South Asia '09, with the slogan of 'Give me non-fiction', was held in Kathmandu from 17-20 September 2009. Veteran actor and social activist Shabana Azmi opened FSA '09 with Nepal's Minister of Information and Communications Shankar Pokharel. Thirty-five films were screened, selected from the 320 submitted.

If you are interested in hosting TFSA '10 in your city or would like more information on Film South Asia, please contact Mallika Aryal at +977-1-5552141, email fsa(at), or visit

Travelling Film South Asia 2010, Kathmandu

16-18 July, Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka

Friday, 16 July 11am Opening Children of God (89')  
Nepal, 2008, dir – Yi Seung-jun
The kids of the Aryaghat cremation grounds.

1.30pm Afghan Girls Can Kick (50')
Afghanistan, 2007, dir - Bahareh Hosseini
The girls do kick well.

3pm Come to My Country: Journeys with Kabir and Friends (98')
India, 2008, dir – Shabnam Virmani
Unlikely bonds in quest for Kabir's 'country'.

5pm The Way of the Road (60')
Nepal, 2009, dir – Ben Campbell & Cosmo Campbell
The new Nepal-Tibet road and the locals.

Saturday, 17 July  11am The Salt Stories (84')
India, 2008, dir – Lalit Vachani
Following Gandhi's salt march in our time.

1pm The Battle for Pakistan (40')
Pakistan, 2009, dir – Maheen Zia
Do extremism and madrassas converge?

The Last Rites (17')
Bangladesh, 2008, dir – Yasmine Kabir
Where the ships go to die.

2.30pm Children of God (89')
Nepal, 2008, dir – Yi Seung-jun
The kids of the Aryaghat cremation grounds.

4.30pm In Search of the Riyal (86')
Nepal, 2009, dir – Kesang Tseten
Deep study of Nepali migrants in the Gulf.

Sunday, 18 July 10am Saamam (The Music) (42')
India, 2009, dir – Ramachandran K
Homage to Carnatic music and M D Ramanathan.

11.30am The Promised Land (90')
Bangladesh, 2008, dir – Tanvir Mokammel
Stigma still haunts Biharis in Dhaka.

1.30pm Mayomi (50')
Sri Lanka, 2008, dir – Carol Salter
Post-tsunami, she struggles for her family.

3pm Out of Thin Air (50')
India, 2009, dir – Samreen Farooqui & Shabani Hassanwalia
The high energy of Ladaki cinema.

Give me non-fiction!

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)