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MAYA

India, 2001 (MIFF 2002, International Panorama)

Director: Digvijay Singh

Maya is a happy little 12-year-old girl living with a foster family she considers to be her own. She and her foster brother Sonjay are perfectly matched in size, athletic ability, adventurousness and mischievousness - playfully terrorising local shopkeepers and hunting for snakes in the forest. With her first period, her life changes: denied rough-and-tumble games with Sonjay she is dressed in saris and enlisted in household duties. But things turn sour when she is taken back to her biological family where she is offered to the local priests for a ritual rape.

In its early scenes, the film's direction matches the carefree spirits of the children. Yet this initial charm serves as stark contrast to the sombre tones that fill the screen as Maya's fate is realised. Whilst brutally honest, the initiation ceremony is shot with the utmost discretion, never exploiting the savagery that Maya - and other children like her in India - are subjected to.

"An undeniably powerful story of officially sanctioned child abuse made all the more ghastly by its apparent accuracy." - Variety

Digvijay Singh, originally from Jamshedpur, India, moved to Bombay to study at St Xavier College. After working as an assistant director in Indian film, television and advertising, he entered UCLA's Professional Program in Producing. Maya is his debut film.

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