JOHANNESBURG: A documentary on Mahatma Gandhi produced by internationally-renowned South African filmmaker Anant Singh has won the Best Documentary Feature Award at the 21st New York Indian Film Festival.
The film, titled Ahimsa Gandhi: The Power of the Powerless', written and directed by Ramesh Sharma, was produced by Singh's company Videovision to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth in 2019.
Its release was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are honoured to receive the Best Documentary Feature Award from the prestigious New York Indian Film Festival.
For us, the award affirms the importance of Gandhi's teachings and his impact on freedom struggles around the world which we capture in the film.
We are also delighted to be perpetuating Gandhi's legacy through our film, said director Ramesh Sharma.
Singh said he was delighted to have worked with Sharma on the project.
Whilst Gandhi has a global legacy, South Africa has a special connection with the Gandhi narrative as it was here, in South Africa, that he became sensitised to issues of human rights and equality, Singh said.
Gandhi's influence will continue to inspire and motivate other leaders to make a change, through non-violence, for peace, Singh added.
Singh announced the completion of the documentary on June 7 last year, the date on which in 1893 Gandhi was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg Station in South Africa because it was reserved for whites only.
The incident sparked off his lifelong fight against discrimination.
In the film, a host of historians and academics from across the globe share their views on the impact that Gandhi had on the world.
Also participating are descendants of Gandhi, including his granddaughter Ela Gandhi in South Africa and US-based grandsons Arun Gandhi and Rajmohan Gandhi.
This film comes at a time when the world needs to be reminded of the Mahatma's teachings of peace and non-violence, Singh said.
It reminds us that we need to restore human rights and dignity on a universal level, he said.
The film also features the impact that Gandhi's teachings had on the American Black Civil Rights movement, with a number of veterans of the movement recalling the history of racism in the US.
Singh added that the film highlights the impact of the Gandhian message of non-violence worldwide; how it inspired Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Barack Obama and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States; the Solidarity Movement in Poland as well as Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.
The film speaks to the conscience of humanity as people globally grapple with intractable problems surrounding race, and as societies struggle to give the marginalised and underserved human dignity and restore fundamental human rights, Singh said.
It deals with oppression and the denial of basic freedoms to people by those who are in positions of power and who fiercely protect their positions by inflicting violence on innocent people, he said.
The film features the song, Ahimsa' performed by U2 and A.R.Rahman, with the lyrics written by Bono and Rahman.
The duo also announced that the film will have its United Kingdom premiere at the London Indian Film Festival on 20 June 2021 in the festival's Extra-Ordinary Lives section.