- May 15, 2008 1:57 AM Now on DVD! + Special Offer
- Sep 13, 2007 10:59 AM Amnesty film shows agony of US detention techniques - new film by makers of Living Goddess
- Jul 29, 2007 11:50 AM Exclusive interview: The 10-year-old living goddess who divided a nation
- Jul 28, 2007 1:00 PM Forgiven child goddess gets divinity back
- Jul 28, 2007 12:58 PM Sajani, Living Goddess, stripped of her devinity
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ABC News reported on the World Premiere of Living Goddess at Silverdocs, Washington DC. The Premiere was attended by one of Nepal's child dieties. This was the first time a Living goddess had traveled outside of Nepal. More info on press coverage are posted on the Living Goddess blogs including New York Times, NPT Radio, Herald Tribune, etc.
Her visit to the World Premiere made it to the front page of Yahoo
When she was stripped of her status it caused another global news story. Full details on the blogs.
And now the film has truly entered the American zeitgeist as the Steven Corbet show on Comedy Central makes fun of the stripping of Sajani's divinity for visiting the United States.
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The Living Goddess does what some of the best documentaries do - it shape shifts half way through, turning a beautiful and intimate film with remarkable production values into something more gritty and urgent
Mark Cousins, author The Story Of Film
We are thrilled to be screening The Living Goddess at the second BRITDOC festival. Ishbel Whitaker's directorial debut provides an insight to a hitsoric community in upheaval and stands as a beautiful example of documentary filmmaking.
Maxyne Franklin, Brit Docs
We're proud to have been associated with this fascinating documentary from the very beginning and are delighted it's part of our ongoing commitment to international feature documentaries under the True Stories strand.
Peter Dale, Controller More Four
Sajani is the Living Goddess of the city of Baktapur. She is eight years old and lives with her family. She has two sisters and a brother. Her parents are the hereditary caretakers of the Goddess house. She has a lot of freedom and when not on "duty" she plays with her friends just like any normal kid. She only wears her robes and third eye when she is performing rituals. The rest of the time she wears normal clothes. She goes to school and likes to dance to Hindi pop music. She is a force majeure - smart and funny with a cheeky sense of mischief.
Chanira is the living Goddess of the city of Patan. Unlike Sajani, Chanira cannot leave the house, except for festivals. But people can come to visit her inside the house whenever they want. She lives with her family, who are also hereditary caretakers. A tutor comes in to teach her. Chanira wears her red robes and distinctive topknot hairstyle every day. She is a shy and quiet girl, but very clever. She enjoys science and even though she never goes outside, enjoys studying about the world and the universe.
Dharma is Chanira's aunt. She is unique in that she is still worshipped as a Living Goddess even though she is now in her late 50's. She was a Goddess as a child, but never menstruated so carried on until she was an adult. She is still revered and worshipped and has a private cult around her, as it is believed she has strong "Shakti". It is believed she has a great gift of healing and prophecy.
Preeti is the "Royal" Living Goddess of Kathmandu. She lives in her Palace and is never allowed out, except for festivals. When she goes out, her feet must not touch the ground. She must either be carried, or must walk along a white cloth. Foreigners are not allowed to enter the Palace. A tutor comes in to teach her. She blesses the King each year to endorse his rule. She does not live with her family, unlike the other Goddesses. Her parents can come in to worship her, like other devotees. She is cared for by caretakers. These restrictions make it harder for the Royal Goddesses to adapt to normal life, once they return to their families.
Ruben, a 14 year old travelling minstrel whose poems and songs became the rallying cry of the revolution.
The million unarmed pro democracy protestors who demonstrated for over a year demanding their freedom in the face of armed police and the King's army.
In Nepal, young girls are worshipped as Living Goddess. This is an ancient Tantric tradition that goes back many centuries. The girls are possessed by the Goddess Taleju, who is a form of Kali. They are chosen from a Buddhist caste, but manifested by a Hindu Goddess. This is a symbol of the unity of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal - a sign of religious tolerance.
The girls are chosen at the age of two or three, using horoscopes and divination. Once selected they must undergo further tests. They must show no fear and must have a suitable disposition. There is an ancient Tantric text which states that the girls must possess thirty-two perfect characteristics, such as perfect teeth, fair complexion etc. The girls are worshipped as a Goddess until menstruation, when the Goddess leaves them and they become normal humans again.
This practice honors and reveres girls. It is a form of "Shakti" worship - the female force of the universe. It is a reminder of an ancient, feminine face of God.
The Living Goddesses in Nepal have always been linked with Kings. The Kings take power from them and worship them. Each year, they bless the King to endorse his rule for the following year.
Before Nepal was conquered and unified by the founder of the Shah Dynasty in the late 18th Century, the Kathmandu valley was ruled by the Malla Kings. The three cities of the valley, Patan, Baktapur and Kathmandu, were separate city-states - each with their own King and Living Goddess. When the Shah King conquered the valley and united Nepal, he made Kathmandu his capital. As his first act of victory, he took a blessing from the Living Goddess. This showed the people that he had her support. The Kathmandu Goddess became the "Royal" Goddess. And to this day, the King still takes a blessing from her every year. The Goddesses of Patan and Baktapur lost their Kings, but became goddesses for the people. The tradition has carried on over the centuries, but as Nepal is changing and facing the demands of the 21st century, the tradition may soon disappear.
Ishbel Whitaker started her career in theatre as an actor in the ensemble company of a leading Polish experimental director. This was the start of a long journey into archetype and myth. She has worked in computer games and advertising as a creative director, developing a future city with the acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid, and creating a T-Girl pop band for the global ad agency BBH. She was an Executive Producer on David Lachapelle's Rize which was Oscar short listed. Living Goddess is her first project as a director, and was the result of a 15 year obsession. The film was made with her long term collaborator Marc Hawker.
Marc Hawker is an award winning director and producer. He produced David LaChapelle's RIZE. During the Yugoslavian civil war he was a DJ on the anti war pirate radio station, B92 in Serbia. His film about B92 was called "A Multi Media Epic Street Poem" by Time Out. He is currently making a series of short films for Amnesty International.
This is the latest film by Marc Hawker and Ishbel Whitaker. They filmed an individual being put through Stress Positions for real, showing the agony it produces. Stress Positions are used by the CIA and endorsed by the US government. We and Amnesty are protesting against the abuse of human rights in the so called War on Terror. Join us and them at www.unsubscribe-me.org
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Polite Storm's Andrew Curtis produced the film with Marc Hawker which was made in association with Channel 4, Polite Storm and Leavesly Group. Andrew's background is in entertainment law and was Associate Producer on Lost In La Mancha, and involved in Paul Andrew William's seminal London to Brighton and current feature, The Cottage.
Stefan Ronowicz escaped from Poland to London, during the height of the cold war to attend the London Film School, and never went back. After serving nearly ten years with the BBC, Stefan went freelance, working on such notable films as The Valley, Directed by Dan Reed which won the Prix D'Italia, and Serbian Epics, directed by Paul Pawlikowski, which won Best Documentary at Marseilles, Florence, BANFF and Sarajevo film festivals. He edited Bafta winning The Grave, Directed by Belinda Giles.
RIZE By David LaChapelle. David LaChapell's Rize tells the story of the Hip Hop clowns and Krumpers in Compton LA, who are using dance and creativity to overcome the tyranny of gang culture and violence that is destroying their lives. It is a positive, joyful call to the power of dance - and how it can give hope and meaning to the lives of kids who have been given nothing. Rize was co-produced by DarkFibre London and HSI LA and was Oscar shortlisted.
Broadcast on Channel Four and funded by Levi's, Ash: Love and Destruction sought to redefine rock documentaries. The filmmakers "kidnapped" the band for 5 days, pretending to be obsessive fans. Time Out Pick Of the Day.
Zombietown was filmed during the Yugoslavian civil war in Serbia. The film followed the underground pirate radio station B92 as it used humour and music to wage its own battle against xenophobia. Time Out called the film "A Multi Media Epic Street Poem".
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