DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Urmila: My Memory is My Power

Director - Susan Gluth - 2016

"Greasy movie"
12 years a child slave: Nepalese women's rights activist Urmila Chaudary fights to save young girls in her country from the tragic fate that befell her at the age of just six, when she became a kamalari

We’d like to think that something as dehumanising and morally reprehensible as slavery is dead, but unfortunately it’s not. The practice is still widespread in many parts of the planet. Worse still, many girls are being forced into slavery from a very young age, in a practice that is borderline institutionalised and often includes sex work. In Nepal, these people are known as kamalari.

Urmila was sold off as a kamalari by her parents at the age of just six, and she worked as a slave for 12 years. She is now aged 25 and a freedom activist, and she’s attempting to become a lawyer. Her purpose is to prevent young girls from encountering the same tragic fate as herself. She has the enthusiastic support of international human rights organisations and of German documentarist Susan Gluth.

Urmila: My Memory is My Power is a vital register of a highly contemptible and humiliating practice. Urmila questions her parents why they did this to her. The rice farmers explain that they were perpetually in debt with their bosses, who systematically cheated on them. This a remarkably common pattern for people working in conditions analogue to slavery. It seems that both parents and the girl were being exploited. So, who’s to blame?

There are other powerful moments in the movie, such as when activists force an old lady and a child off a bus suspecting that she’s about to sell the child into slavery. Or when Urmila visits the river that she crossed at the age of six: “I crossed this river as a kamalari and I returned a free person”. The river here is a watershed, in both the denotative and connotative sense..

Susan Gluth’s view of Urmila’s struggle is gentle and feminine, and never exploitative. The photography of the foggy and gloomy cities of Nepal is strangely soothing. However, the film is not without faults. The foreign investigative gaze often fails to get under Urmila’s skin, and the movie never feels like it’s a first person account (like the title suggests). It lacks verve and spontaneity, and sometimes feels a little rehearsed.

Still, Urmila’s courage and determination are remarkable. And perhaps more importantly, she has helped to free many kamalari. More than 13,000 girls had been freed by the end of 2015 when the movie was completed. They believe that there are only a further 150 kamalari, those being kept by very influential and rich people. There’s still some work to do, but a lot has already been achieved. It’s nice to see such a deplorable practice dying out.

Urmila’s struggle has remarkable similarities with Chinese human rights activist Ye Hayan, who also fights for women’s rights – she was the subject of the movie Hooligan Sparrow (Nanfu Wang, 2016). Or if you are interested in a fictionalised account of child trafficking in neighbouring India, we recommend that you watch Sold (Jeffrey D. Brown, 2016) – just click on the film titles in order to accede to the reviews.

Earlier this year, Urmila: My Memory is My Power has shown in film festivals on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Berlin Film Festival and Hot Docs in Canada. You can find out more information about future screenings and distribution rights by clicking here.

Below is the film trailer:



"Greasy movie"

By Victor Fraga - 23-11-2016

By Victor Fraga - 23-11-2016

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more than 15 years of ...

DMovies Poll

Should smoking in cinema be banned?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

The world is blithely unaware of the coup [Read More...]
Back in 2010, Germany striker Mario Gomez urged [Read More...]
Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Perhaps no other 20th century artist has captured [Read More...]
Another year has gone by, and DMovies is [Read More...]

Read More

Miss Dali

Ventura Pons
2018

Fiona Whitelaw - 22-10-2018

Relationship between Spanish Surrealist painter and his sister Anna Maria is the topic of new drama; the performances are very compelling, but the narrative has a few flaws - from the Cambridge Film Festival [Read More...]

Cam

Daniel Goldhaber
2018

Jeremy Clarke - 21-10-2018

You are softcore, you make me hard… An erotic webcam performer discovers to her horror that her online presence has been hacked by an unknown rival, in film conceived by real-life cam artist – from the London Film Festival [Read More...]

Sorry to bother you, BFI and Picturehouse!!!

 

Ben Flanagan - 21-10-2018

As the BFI London Film Festival draws to a close, Ben Flanagan highlights a stark contradiction between the proletarian message of films such as SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and the corporate attitude of the Festival organisers [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *