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India, 1999 (MIFF 2001, International Panorama)

Director: Kavitha Lankesh

In her debut feature, Indian filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh tells the story of a 12-year-old boy Kyatha (Manja) who lives with his sister Deveeri (played by prominent Indian actress Nandita Das) The pair resides in a slum district on the edge of an Indian city. He lives amid the chaos, poverty and filthy streets, but as a child is still able to see the world as a beautiful place. The child-like naivete of his world outlook is shattered when he discovers his sister's involvement in prostitution, thus depriving him of his only security. In this remarkable film from a first time director, Lankesh weaves an intricate human tapestry without resort to melodrama. Her loose narrative structure allows for the story to be conveyed as through the eyes of a child. Deveeri is the portrait of the underbelly of society and measures the life of ordinary people—souls caught in a whirlwind of money, willpower, dreams and fantasies. This film won the Fipresci Prize at the Kerala Film Festival and premiered in London late last year.

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