Image Credits: Yugantar and Deepa Dhanraj
As part of the conference, MAP will host a screening of Tambaku Chaakila Oob Aali, a film by Yugantar Film Collective from 1983 that traces the history and strike actions of the All Women Trade Union of over 3000 tobacco workers in Nipani (Karnataka). Made in collaboration with female tobacco factory workers, the film documents, re-enacts and takes forward one of the largest movements of unorganised labour of its time and context which sparked unionising processes across Karnataka and Maharashtra throughout the 1980s. Attracted by the power of these large scale strike actions provoked by women workers and following the spirit of mobilising for the left labour and the women’s movement, the Yugantar film collective embarked on their second film. The collective spent four months with the women tobacco factory workers in Nipani, listening to their accounts of exploitative working conditions, discussing strategies for unionising and concrete steps to broaden solidarities across factories for massive strike actions. Through this collaboration, the film team was able to film circumstances inside factories hitherto unrepresented in film as they followed the women workers’ leads as to what, where and how their actions should be recorded.
Yugantar’s continuous commitment to the complexity of political friendships and how to ‘stand with’ provoked a then pioneering collaborative filmmaking practice embodied in large-scale re-enactments of protests, a voice-over as pluriverse testimony and the production of the first screen presence of working-class women on screen organising and ‘speaking to power’. This film is a powerful example of a feminist third cinema, a factory film, also called a ‘strike manual’ by current union activists.
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