Sundance film connects to India with message to adopt girl child

New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Hollywood producer and documentary filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton is reaching out to the Indian youth and parents with her documentary, "Somewhere Between" with the message to give a home to abandoned girls.

The movie, part of the Sundance Institute's "Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue" programme, a joint initiative by the Mumbai Mantra and the American Center, is trying to promote cultural understanding of global communities in multi-racial societies by highlighting their socio-cultural problems, Knowlton said.

She said that the movie, about four Chinese abandoned girls adopted by American parents, follows the teenage girls across the US, looks at their dilemmas as "Asians being brought up in American homes and their search for their Chinese parentage as they grow older".

"Somewhere Between" that was screened in the capital Monday is travelling to Aligarh Muslim University, Amity University and Jawaharlal Nehru University with its message to adopt throughout the week.

Knowlton is also a mother of a Chinese girl, whose arrival in her household inspired her to make the movie.

"Over 80,000 Chinese girls have been adopted by foster parents in the US since 1992 and more than 175,000 worldwide," she said quoting figures from her own film. "Like in India, China has a gender preference. A son takes care of the parents as in India because China still has an agrarian society in villages," she added.

The filmmaker was inspired by an academic book, "Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son" by Kay Johnson in understanding the gender discrimination and mindsets in many countries".

"I would love to release the movie in India commercially because the subject is so relatable in India," Knowlton told IANS. She is raising funds for the theatrical distribution of the movie through kickstarter.com that allows an independent filmmaker a 30-day window to source money for a film.

A Satyajit Ray fan, Knowlton has produced "Whale Rider" (an Oscar nominee) and co-produced "Shipping News".

"There should be more movies about adoption of girl child. In India, such movies help raise awareness about the plight of the girl child in the light of the tragedy involving the abandoned child Falak who died a week ago. In China, the problem is acute in villages because of the one-child per family policy. Parents leave the girl children in orphanages," Xeng Li, a Chinese student in the capital, said.

The Sundance Institute wants to return to India with a package of independent movies and workshops to help undeserved culture groups, artists and students access "meaningful cinema", Meredith Lavitt, associate director of the US-based Sundance Institute, said.

"India is such a big country, we hope this is just the beginning. We want to bridge the cultural divide," Levitt added.

The programme has been supported by the Whistling Woods International and the Enlighten Film Society. It is scheduled to go to Morocco, Columbia and Puerto Rico.