Award: Tribal filmmaker’s movie on mica industry wins Japan prize

Ranchi: A documentary film made by Ranchi based tribal filmmaker and produced by The Moving Visuals Co. in, Singapore emerged as the inaugural winner of the Sustainable Development Goals Prize at the 2021 Japan Prize. The awards took place in Tokyo on Nov 9 through a virtual ceremony, said a statement.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Prize honours an outstanding work that inspires viewers to take action and contribute to the advancement of sustainable development goals. It is organized by leading Japanese broadcaster NHK, established in 1965.

The 48 minute film sheds light on mica, a controversial mineral found abundantly in India. Due to its shimmery qualities, it is used in everyday products from make-up to electronics to car paint.  But lingering questions have remained about how it is extracted, and whether children are exploited in the mining process.

“Typically, the whole discussion of mica in the news has been framed mainly around child labour. It’s far more complex than that,” said Galen Yeo, creative director at The Moving Visuals Co in a press note adding that it’s an entire cycle of poverty that goes beyond what the “headlines portray”.  Producer Sumitra Gopal added, “We aim to spark greater awareness. It’s worth asking brands to be accountable, to ask questions about their supply chain, and for us to have more responsibility and engagement with what we buy all the time.”

In Jharkhand, mica is abundantly found in Koderma and part of Giridih district in which over 10 lakh people are directly or indirectly dependent for daily livelihood. “The film investigates the rarely discussed issues of child labour, supply chains and ethical mining in the beauty industry. From underground ghost mines and forest camps to dusty workshops, this documentary digs into the conflict and controversy behind the trade and sheds light on the ongoing struggles that its miners face,” he said, adding that it took about six months for the film to get finished.

Ranchi based Deepak Bara (40), an ace filmmaker said that the aim of the film was to dip into the hidden world of mica mining and investigate into the complex truth behind our cosmetics. “Also, the film highlights myriad problems faced by those working in this industry,” he said.

The makers will showcase the film for local public on Sunday at XISS. Bara said, “The idea is to create debate on the topic and press with state and central government to protect Mica dependent communities. Hemant Soren Government must act towards making people friendly policy for Mica mining.”