A shelter for children on the outskirts of Delhi provides food and accommodation for 350 boys. Some are orphans, others have been abandoned, still others have run away from home. About half are held under a court order, having been picked up from the streets for petty crimes. Living at the institution for several months, the filmmaker, David MacDougall, explores its routines and the varied experiences of the boys. Despite the harshness of their lives, many show remarkable strength of character. One day 181 child labourers arrive, placing additional strain on the building’s deteriorating facilities. The institution does what it can, but is it enough?
David MacDougall is renowned for films that bring the sensory qualities of everyday existence and social institutions to life. He has been working for more than a decade on Indian children’s experiences in institutional settings, and Gandhi’s Children, shot in 2005, follows up earlier films set in schools.
This innovative exhibition presents MacDougall’s 185 minute film and, for the first time, a set of twenty video stills. Gandhi’s Children takes us beyond the images of poverty familiar from photo-journalism, providing a compelling evocation of individual knowledge and resilience.MacDougall’s tactile images also raise thought-provoking questions around the differences between moving and still pictures. The latter, David MacDougall has written, ‘carry the weight of the unknown future and become larger statements about society, history and human experience.’
Seminar around the film ‘Gandhi’s Children’ by David MacDougall:
Cambridge DSpace archive
David MacDougall has been making prize-winning ethnographic films since the 1960s. He is also the author of influential theoretical writings, including Transcultural Cinema (1998) and The Corporeal Image (2005). He is a Professorial Fellow in the Research School of the Humanities at the Australian National University.