Shuswap Film Society presents Village Rockstars, documentary Human Nature

Cinemaphile by Joanne Sargent

The Shuswap Film Society brings you two movies this week.

On Saturday we present Village Rockstars, a wonderful, inspiring portrait of a young girl in India with big dreams that challenge stereotypes and poverty. And, in stark contrast, on Wednesday we bring you Human Nature, a documentary about the revolutionary practice of manipulating DNA to alter genetics.

In Village Rockstars, 10-year-old Dhunu sees a band performing while she is working at a local event and is instantly mesmerized. This launches her dream of owning a guitar and having a band of her own, a rather unrealistic aspiration when you live in a remote village in northeast India, where girls are expected to be timid and submissive. Dhunu’s mother supports her daughter’s independent spirit as best she can, but her focus is on basic survival. With the innocence of a child, Dhunu, despite the struggles of her daily life, stubbornly refuses to give up on her dream.

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One can’t help but think that Village Rockstars was reflective of filmmaker Rima Das’s life since she, too, came from the village of Chhaygaon in Assam, India, where the film was shot and, against the odds, has achieved her dream. Self-taught, Das wrote, produced, directed and edited the movie, her second, and she shows us both the beauty of her home and the absolute difficulty of life there, especially for women. It’s a place where dreams are born but don’t necessarily come true. Cast with several members of Das’s family, Village Rockstars was India’s official entry in the Best Foreign Film category for the Oscars.

Human Nature, our first documentary feature of 2020, brings us mind-blowing and important information about CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), a cutting-edge breakthrough in genetic engineering, and the benefits and dangers it holds. CRISPR offers the ability to cut and paste DNA, tinkering with people’s genetic makeup, the consequences of which raise questions of epic proportions. Human Nature presents both sides thoroughly and thoughtfully, and we learn that even scientists don’t seem fully decided on its value.

Village Rockstars shows at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25, and Human Nature plays at 7:30 on Wednesday, Jan. 29, both at the Salmar Classic.

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