AKANKSHA DAMINI JOSHI
A multiple award winning filmmaker, writer and a meditation facilitator, witnessing India in its social, political, ecological, cultural and spiritual dimensions.
Over two decades Akanksha has documented natural disasters, social conflicts, environmental strife in India. Filming lives of people in conflicts, she has come to understand that it is the Indian peoples connection with the Sacred - in all diverse forms and colours – that has been the anchor, through and beyond their crises.
Some of her award winning films are Earth Witness, on climate change told though various tribes, in different ecological zones of India; and Hindu Nectar: Spiritual Wanderings in India, experienced with seekers from various nations who have found their spiritual home in India.
Akanksha has been conducting meditation groups from various wisdom traditions of India over the last ten years. Her practise has been inspired by various Indian gurus and mystics; her life as a child in the Indian Army; and most of all, the playful feminine spirituality of the elder women of her Himalayan family.
Oral histories of partition survivors and the stories of women across religions and borders experiencing different phases of partition violence. The docu-drama is based on the accounts of two social workers, Anis Kidwai and Kamala Ben Patel who had rescued abducted women for three years after partition. It includes stories from politicians, social workers, bureaucrats, editors and activists including that from Jamnadas Akhtar, editor of the Hind Samachar (Jalandhar 1948) and Subhadra Joshi, a noted Indian freedom activist and parliamentarian from Indian National Congress.
Joshi co-directed this feature length documentary during and after the 2002 Gujarat riots. It is a critically acclaimed 52-minute long film that narrates the journey of a Hindu and a Muslim family during and after the violence. The politics of division is experienced intimately through the lives two families in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Joshi along with her co-director Nooh Nizami, journey with the families for over a year and a half. The film, completed in 2003, has been screened at the 9th Open Frame Festival, Artivist Film Festival, USA, Films for Freedom, Delhi, the World Social Forum 2004, Madurai International Documentary and Short Film Festival and Persistence Resistance, New Delhi.
GANGA: A PRAYER
Pray with not just words, not just in song, but pray also with your feet. Joshi translates this Karma-driven understanding into a short 15 min film to sensitise an Indian audience to the likely threat of Climate Change on the sacred river of India, Ganga. The film has been telecast on the official channel of the Government of India, Lok Sabha TV since August 2007. Greenpeace India has used the film for screenings in over 150 climate workshops, among which was a screening in the Art of Living International Center, headquarter of the Art of Living Foundation, in 2008 with a footfall of 3000 people including the spiritual leader and founder of the organization Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Joshi’s multiple award-winning film, Chilika Bank$ (2008) traces the ecological changes in the lake over four decades. From 1970s, when it was exposed to extensive poaching by the outsiders, through 1980s when the lake was over-fished, to 1990s when the aqua culture ponds became a common sight, and finally, the first decade of the 21st century when the environmental interference that was made to protect the lake ended up becoming its greatest threat. The film has won multiple international awards and garnered many television screenings on India’s public broadcaster, Doordarshan’s various channels. For highlighting the issues surrounding Chilika, Joshi was honored with the Karamveer Puruskaar, National Award for Social Justice and Citizen Action by the confederation of NGOs, iCONGO, in partnership with United Nations
Joshi’s much awarded, breakthrough
documentary on indigenous voices on climate change. Earth Witness, reflects on climate change through the eyes of four individuals, from four different ecosystems of India. She trains her lens on the lives of people who are least responsible for negative effects of climate change on earth but are worst affected by it. The four common people from India’s different ecosystems — the forests of Chhattisgarh, the mountains of Nagaland, the coastal ecosystem of the Sunderbans and the dryland of Kutch. Living in diverse climatic regions, their lives journey through the dark maze of the multidimensional crisis, reflecting upon the stories of our times. A father, a teacher, a shepherd and a farmer find themselves on the front line of earth’s biggest, most complex crisis: climate change. Joshi finds in them the courage, the agency, the strength to not just react to the issues posed by climate change, but to respond consciously to the situation and contribute to the development of the place they live and work in.
Hindu Nectar takes up a challenge: presenting the ancient, multi-dimensional, diverse philosophical river called Hinduism to an audience that does not know much about India. From the many India’s that exist – the nation state, the geography, the cultural, the linguistic, the culinary diversity, the spiritual calling - Joshi chose the latter. Like most of her other films, this cinematic journey of spiritual seekers is an intimate telling, directed, filmed, scripted, edited and narrated by Joshi herself. This award winning film features a former Australian miner, a Spanish Sanyasi, an American journalist turned Yoga Guru, a young Columbian Indophile, a Ho Chi Minh style Indian mystic who can speak-read nearly a dozen world languages and many other seekers.
CHILIKA BANK$, EARTH WITNESS
EARTH WITNESS: STORIES OF THE TIMES & THE TIMELESS
HINDU NECTAR: SPIRITUAL WANDERINGS IN INDIA
2008: Winner, Karamveer Puraskar
2008: Winner, Jeevika: South Asia Livelihood Documentary Film Festival
2009: Winner, Livelihood Award: CMS Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival
2014: Winner, Best Documentary Film: Fiji International Film Festival
2015: Winner, Best Director Award: International Film Festival of Prayag
2011: Winner, Best Film Award: CMS Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival
2011: Winner, Best Cinematography Award: CMS Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival
2012: Nominated, Wildscreen Panda Award: Wildscreen Film Festival
2012: Winner, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association
2013: Winner, Development Film Festival, DHAN Foundation