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  • Writer's pictureJoyce

Testimony of Ana, Short Documentary Film Review

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

★★★★ Directed by: #SachinDheeraj

Starring: #AnabenPawar

Review by: Joyce Cowan

Testimony of Ana is a documentary that is current and urgent.

Documentaries are a great fusion between factual knowledge, storytelling, and change- making work. In the UK, examples of this include the groundbreaking art and history series Civilisations presented by Kenneth Clarke for the BBC in 1969 and, more recently, Blue Planet, presented by David Attenborough, also for the BBC, which made waves and put the tragedy and crime of plastic pollution in people’s minds and discourse. Testimony of Ana was done on a different scale, not least because its duration is a short 24 minutes, but it

is as powerful as the emblematic programmes above.

The subject matter is hard-hitting: an elder woman of a village in northern India is accused of witchcraft, and subsequently faces a barrage of unspeakable misogyny and abuse. The narrative choices made in telling Ana’s case are deeply humanistic, and reflect every human being’s survival instinct and pride of place. It is an intensely interesting perspective, because Ana’s fight is based partly on her right to not be driven out of her home with misogynistic abuse. At the same time, her key word is ‘dignity’, and she is clear it has been taken.

The documentary works from this premise, and it does so with noticeable technical flair. The cinematography engages with the landscape and climate of its location in a deep, almost sublime way. In particular, the extreme wide shot of the lake early on in the film, framed upside down, is one of the greatest and most poetic I have seen. There is immense and intense beauty, but it has been disrupted. Still, the place stands stable and eternal. This is, perhaps, a source of strength for Ana.

This film is, in essence, a great work. It embraces the theory of documentary making, containing aspects of observation, exposition and reflection, and does not exclude bold facts. After all, true documentaries impart knowledge and this one does well not to shy away from that. The road to justice is long and bumpy but it can be travelled on.


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