Category Archives: Tribeca Film Festival 2012


Frederick Boyer, Joanna Kulig, Juliette Binoche and Malgoska Szumowska

When I asked Polish film director Malgoska Szumowska to take me back to the origins of her new film “Elles,” which had its Tribeca Film Festival premiere on April 22, she said simply, “From the newspaper.  There was an article in the newspaper about student prostitution at Paris University.”  She said the idea was not to take a French perspective but find someone from Eastern Europe to provide an outsider’s perspective.  She described the approach as, “Someone who can tell a story about French society who is not French.”  Szumowska went on to explain, “Since I was interested in making a film about sexuality I found it very interesting.  From the beginning I did not want to make a social film, just a film about sexuality and intimacy.” Read the rest of this entry


“The World Before Her” at 2012 Tribeca Film Festival

Contestants vie for the title of “Miss India” in “The World Before Her.”

Young women at the Durga Vahini training camp in “The World Before Her.”

Following the screening of their new documentary, “The World Before Her,” at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22, director Nisha Pahuja and producer Cornelia Principe talked about their objective in making this interesting new film profiling two subcultures in India.  Pahuja explained that she wanted to “parallel two worlds by making a film about two different Indias and how these play out on the bodies of women.”

Pahuja’s statement nicely encapsulates “The World Before Her,” a documentary that compares and contrasts women in a training camp for Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Hindu fundamentalist movement, with, of all things, beauty pageant hopefuls vying to be crowned Miss India.   Hindu nationalism, with its traditional values, has become a strong political force in India.  Western ideas, like beauty pageants, go against fundamentalist ideas.  Pahuja explained that fundamentalists are not opposed to modernization.  She said they feel that their culture is being assaulted when people in India take on western influences.  In contrast, a beauty contestant interviewed in the film, expresses the opinion that she is not any more western for her participation in the pageant than an American who goes to a yoga class is Indian.  Read the rest of this entry