Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 


India, 1993, 84 min

Shown in 1994


Pankaj Butalia
Pankaj Butalia
Piyush Shah
Sameera Jain


Vital Films
gga award
Special Jury Award, Film & Video: Sociology-International


Shown with Comfort Women.

While the oppression of women in India has become a truism among human-rights activists, Pankaj Butalia’s Salvation brings such individuality and clarity to its portrayal of the lives of Bengali widows that it achieves that all-too-rare balance between advocacy and cinema. Through a series of candid interviews, generous observational footage and a lush, poetic narration, the film makes the point that Indian society, right or wrong, simply does not have a place for these women. Some of the widows have been pressed into servitude by their in-laws; others have been abandoned by their sons or ostracized because of physical handicaps. Followers of Krishna, they all find peace and acceptance at the Vrindavan ashram where they go twice a day to sing prayers and receive a small allowance and rations of food. Richly photographed and redolent of the paired grief of widowhood and exile, Salvation does not interpret or seek meaning in tragedies; Butalia plainly relies on the humanity of her subjects. Each woman’s story adds a layer of sadness and they perform rituals of solitude or ceremonies of the group, often with a hauntingly rhythmic detachment. Salvation is a testament to the power of human will and human dignity. It reminds us what the word “community” really means.

—Jacquie Jones

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