“Invaluable and gorgeous.” – NEW YORK MAGAZINE
“[Lends] an elegant air to a classic documentary subject.” – THE NEW YORKER
” A beautiful film.” – NEWSDAY
“Intimate scenes create a clearer, deeper understanding of the difficulties of tradition and change.” – FILM FORWARD
“Beautfully shot… Remarkably cohesive… Portrays a rich way of life and how it’s now threatened by agricultural development and outside market forces.” – TV GUIDE
“Highly Recommended! This exceptionally well-produced documentary provides an engrossing portrait of a… culture in transition. Produced in association with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), this is a beautifully photographed and edited field study. Excellent!” – EDUCATIONAL MEDIA REVIEWS
still the children are here
Executive Producer: Roger King
Producer: Mira Nair
Director: Dinaz Stafford
Distributor: First Run Icarus Films, 2004, Mirabai Films, 85 minutes
Still the Children are Here, is a prizewinning feature documentary set in the remote village of Sadholpara in Northeastern India. The Garo indigenous people, once headhunters, repelled invaders through history, maintaining its own religion rooted in growing rice in skillful, ancient ways. Their hills are beautiful, as are the people, who welcomed the filmmakers into the intimacies of their lives.
In numerous ways outside influences are daily unbalancing the intricate weave of the society: the food crops are failing, Christianity is gaining converts from the tribal religion, commerce is displacing self-sufficiency, and outsiders are drawn to the trees and coal belonging to the community. Some tribal members have taken up arms.
For many of the Garos of Meghalaya in North East India, cultivating rice is a way of life and worship. In the West Garo Hills, villagers still grow a diversity of ancient strains of hill rice in the same manner as humanity first did 6000 years ago. These strains are now highly valued by scientists studying sustainable agriculture and botanical genetics.
Of Tibetan-Burmese origin, the Garos’ homes and just about all of their household goods have their origins in the lush bamboo forests that surround them. Their worries are both basic (having enough food and a roof over their heads) and universal (the women worry about whether their men are faithful and a couple mourns the loss of their child). Theirs is a society based on the natural order of things, but as the world changes around them, they begin to find this is no longer enough.
Shot over the course of an entire growing cycle, from the preparation of the fields to the harvest, Still, the Children Are Here is an elegant meditation on a way of life that to outsiders seems simple and peaceful, but is fraught with the same existential questions that plague us all.
Still, the Children Are Here has been shown at film festivals throughout the world, and had its US theatrical release at Film Forum in New York. The distributor is First Run/Icarus Films.
The film was supported by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and especially its Assistant President for Indigenous Peoples, Phrang Roy. Mira Nair (Vanity Fair, Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, etc.) agreed to produce and to co-direct with her long term collaborator Dinaz Stafford (Kisses on a Train). Dinaz Stafford had the main creative responsibility for the project and lived in the Garo village, which we had come to know on earlier visits to the region. She is mainly responsible for the films engaging intimacy and gorgeous appearance.
Roger King was Originator, Executive Producer and technical advisor for this film. Financing for the film came mainly from the Finnish and Japanese governments.
The preoccupations that run through Roger King’s novels, film, and consultancy work, are the ways that the experiences of ordinary people across the world, richer and poorer, are interwoven. Much of his early work was spent sitting in poor villages in Africa and Asia, talking to men and women in order to assemble an overall picture of how things changed – technology, institutions, beliefs, economics, the sense of self. Later his interests widened from rural societies to include human migration (the background to A Girl From Zanzibar), political change, conflict, and the broader tides of history. His wish has been to try to understand the big picture, while his imagination in fiction keeps his attention on the individual human soul.
Most recently these strands have come together in researching and imagining future scenarios and in King’s screen adaptation of A Girl From Zanzibar. The novel has been adapted for film by the author and has been in and out of development for the past five years.
King’s script of Written on a Stranger’s Map won the BBC/Writer’s Guild award for best first screenplay.
King has worked in twenty African and Asian countries, primarily for United Nations’ agencies. Projects ranged from rice farming and policy in Liberia, resettling ex-guerillas in Zimbabwe, jute in Bangladesh, facilitating popular participation projects, adult literacy, women’s savings and microcredit in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia and Zambia, large scale regional economic development in Pakistan, to evaluating the decollectivization of agriculture in Inner Mongolia, China.
Recent international work has included alternative Global Future Scenarios for the World Bank Strategy Department and Afghanistan reconciliation and reconstruction proposals for UN agencies. In 2010-2011 he was the recipient of a Copeland Fellowship in International Development at Amherst College.
King’s most recent public appearances include talks on global governance and international development, as well as a film event marking the centenary of the Mexican Revolution.
For consulting, film, and speaking inquiries, contact email@example.com.
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