KOCHI: With glimpses from the 2003’s Muthanga struggle, Our Land, a short film by debut filmmaker Athulya Shaija, brings to the fore the plight of tribals to regain ancestral land. Athulya, a graduate from Sacred Heart College in Kochi, is the only female director to be selected in the Campus Films category.
“I belong to the Karimbalam tribal community. I came to know about Muthanga Samaram during my graduation. A friend of mine was part of that struggle,” says the 23-year-old.
“However, not many people, especially those in our generation, know what transpired in the 2003 struggle. I was determined to change that with my film.” The film is littered with flashes from that struggle — of people’s cries, huts on fire, people running for their lives, police lathi charges, etc. It was a mind-numbing event.
“A group of tribes fought day and night to get their land back. What they got was death or painful memories,” says Athulya. “The visuals used in the film were that of a television cameraman who captured the events as it unfolded then from the top of a tree.”
Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha leaders C K Janu, M Geethanandan, and other victims of the incident come on the screen to explain the hardships they experienced on that day. The film thus gives the audience the unfiltered truth. “I’m glad that I got the opportunity to showcase my first work as well as the Muthanga struggle at an international festival like this. It feels like a dream come true,” says Athulya.