This week Tribeca has announced the opening of this year’s World Documentary Competition: The World Before Her
directed by Nisha Pahuja. Making it’s world premiere, The World Before Her subjects the “culture clash between beauty pageantry and Hindu religious extremism.” The film earned Toronto’s Storyline Entertainment the distinctive opening spot of the World Documentary Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday April 19, 2012 and the Festival will run through April 29. Read below for the official press release from Tribeca:
(Toronto – March 6, 2012) A vivid portrayal of culture clash between beauty pageantry and Hindu religious extremism, The World Before Her has earned Toronto’s Storyline Entertainment the distinctive opening spot of the World Documentary Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday April 19, 2012, which will be the film’s World Premiere.
Via unprecedented access, The World Before Her contrasts the wide-eyed ambitions of 20 hand-picked contestants determined to win the Miss India pageant, and the behind-the-scenes reality of Hindu fundamentalist camps for young girls that are run by the women’s wing of a militant movement.
“This film has been my life for a couple of years,” says director Nisha Pahuja, “and I’m so proud of showing it to the world. There couldn’t be a better place to kick-start this off in, then at Tribeca, and to have The World Before Her open the World Documentary Competition, is truly an honour.”
“We worked hard to make this film,” adds Storyline Entertainment’s Executive Producer Ed Barreveld, “and premiering at Tribeca will be a feather in the film’s cap.”
The film sees 20 young women from across India arrive in Bombay for a month-long beauty boot camp, where winning the coveted title would mean instant stardom, a lucrative career path, and freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society. It is the ultimate glamour event in a country that has gone mad for beauty contests.
But as its popularity has exploded, so have the protests rejecting it as decadent. As the pageant unfolds, director Nisha travels to another corner of India to visit an annual camp for young girls run by the Durgha Vahini, a leader of the women’s wing of a militant fundamentalist movement. Through lectures and physical combat training, the girls learn what it means to be “good” Hindu women and how to fight corrupting outside influences by any means necessary. This is the first time that a film crew has been able to enter these camps.
The contrast between the vehement determination of the pageant contestants to obtain a title that could change their lives forever, and the passionate desire of the camp leaders to fight and even die for their beliefs, is at times overpowering. Nisha has effectively balanced both these perspectives through a provocative portrait of the world’s largest democracy at a critical transitional moment.