A PYRAMID OF WOMEN
2004, 20 minutes
Purchase: $155 Classroom Rental: $65
A Pyramid of Women tells the story of a group of women in India who are challenging the male domination over a dangerous Hindu religious custom. During the festival of Gokulashtami, which celebrates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna, people in the city of Mumbai (Bombay) hang decorated pots several stories high. Teams of men compete to reach and break the pots by forming human pyramids on the street below. The only protection for the climbers is their own skill and the hope that their teammates below will catch them if they fall.
The women of a working class textile mill neighborhood have decided to challenge this tradition by founding the first-ever women's team to form these pyramids. The documentary follows them as they plan and practice for the big day, and attempts to understand why they risk breaking their necks to break these pots and to break a male monopoly in the sensitive area of religion. It explores the question of whether their poverty may have conversely contributed to their new confidence, while considering larger issues such as rebellion, the challenge of authority, and changing gender roles across South Asia.
Subjects & Collections
Festivals & Awards* Winner, Outstanding Documentary Award, School of Television and Film, San Diego State University
* Official Selection, Raindance East Film Festival
* Official Selection, Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting
* Official Selection, San Diego Asian Film Festival
* Official Selection, Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films
* Official Selection, ImagineIndia, Indian Film Festival of Madrid
Reviews"Director Kanekarís point, a broader one about shifting gender roles in postcolonial Indian culture, is aptly illustrated in her film. A Pyramid of Women would be a good addition to a college media collection that supports a womenís studies program/department or has classes that look at 'globalization' broadly construed, especially sociology and economics. Recommended" - Educational Media Reviews Online
"A Pyramid of Women represents the initiation of change in which women are no longer passive onlookers (as the Kryshna myth impllies), but rather active participants calling on Krishna to support them while they do the climbing for a change. Noteworthy is the fact that many of the young women choosing to participate in this event are university students. One says confidently that a woman can be an engineer, a doctor, even a pilot; so why not this? In building this human pyramid, this community is saying that it accepts the possibility of change." - Feminist Collections