Program Notes

The Cinema of Nishtha Jain


Nishtha Jain is blunt, outspoken, and–perhaps most importantly for a filmmaker–a helluva tenacious artist. Celebrating the works of this award-winning filmmaker and Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences member promises to be an engagement with  twenty-first-century cinema at its finest. We welcome you to this limited but compelling retrospective where we will experience three remarkable documentaries including Gulabi Gang (2012), The Golden Thread (2022), City of Photos (2004); and a short fiction Proof (2019); each a testament to Nishtha Jain’s impressive oeuvre that has interrogated societal struggle in its diverse forms for two decades.

Jain takes us into worlds perhaps unfamiliar to many, and yet made accessible. Gulabi Gang (2012) immerses us in the fearless struggle of women in the heartland of India, as they unite under a banner to fight against injustice and gender-based violence. Jain’s keen observation and empathy allow us to witness the extraordinary courage of these women as they heroically confront societal challenges head-on, but not without strife, doubt and introspection.

The Golden Thread (2022) transports us into the heart of the lives of those affected by the twilight of the once roaring jute industry in Bengal, delicately unraveling the tapestry of their interconnected lives in a moving portrayal of an environment in its last echoes of a long-gone colonial juggernaut.

Jain’s prescient, pre-social media exploration of a small photography studios in India invites us to contemplate the stories behind these images. It helps us understand the ever-increasing power of images to amplify our vanities and hankering for connecting with the lives of others, near and far. Through City of Photos (2004), Jain navigates a world where photographs become windows into the lives of strangers.

Proof (2019), a black and white gem makes us, the viewers, uncomfortable witnesses of decisions made in a hospital ward on the night of a violent tragedy in 1984; the night that forever left a stain on the secular aspirations of the Indian Republic, decades after Independence from British rule.

These films are a reminder that in every frame and every story, there is a world waiting to be explored, understood, and appreciated. Join us at Festival Film Dokumenter for a curated selection of Nishtha Jain’s works for the first time in Indonesia, and be touched by the indomitable spirit of the human experience, as captured and re-told by a dedicated, first-rate storyteller.


–Sandeep Ray