Tana Bana (2015) 1h 17min · Documentary · 26 September 2015
Varanasi is the ancient city on the Ganges where Hindu pilgrims come to bathe at dawn and where cremation fires burn along the sacred river long after night has fallen. The city is also famous for the Moslem silk weavers whose ancestors traveled along the Silk Road and whose history is interwoven with that of their Hindu neighbours. Here, one thousand years of repression and conflict evolved into a unique, hardwon tolerence in which Moslems are the creators and weavers and Hindus are traders and merchants. Now, however, the pressures of globalization have created dangerous faultlines in this complex web of relationships. To visit this extraordinary place is to to witness a city literally 'woven into being' each day because every single aspect of Varanasi life is fused with the production of handwoven silk. Loosely structured as a day in the life of Varanasi, this unique, intimate documentary explores how the Moslem community of weavers respond to huge economic shifts in their lives and shows the difficulties they face in passing on traditional weaving skills to their children. The film also gives voice to the changing roles of women within this enclosed world. In celebrating the warp and weft of myth and reality in everyday Varanasi, the film questions prevailing Western attitudes to the Moslem world while subtly challenging our own attitudes to how we structure relationships between men and women. - Written by Pat Murphy
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