Film on Kailash Satyarthi wins at the Sundance Film Festival

Activist Kailash Satyarthi leads the audience in a pledge to end child slavery as Participant Media and Concordia open the Sundance Film Festival with the premiere of "Kailash" at the Marc theater in Park City UT on Thursday, January 18, 2018 (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

The documentary ‘Kailash’ made on Indian Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi, has won the US Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival 2018 held in the US recently. The prestigious film festival opened with the premiere of this film. Directed by debutante Derek Doneen, the 92-minute-film traces Satyarthi’s journey and his efforts to rid child trafficking and child labour. It has been produced by Davis Guggenheim and Sarah Anthony and co-produced by Purnima Raghunath. Guggenheim won the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award for Truth and was Oscar-shortlisted for his most recent docu-feature, He Named Me Malala, made on Malala Yousafzai. Satyarthi had shared his Nobel honour with Malala in 2014.

Kailash’ captures the tireless efforts of Satyarthi, the head of the organisation Bachpan Bachao Aandolan in India and his team. Using a combination of archived and new footage, the documentary captures a slice of the 37 years of work that Satyarthi and his colleagues have undertaken to rescue more than 80,000 children from child and slave labour. The film highlights his organization’s efforts to rehabilitate, educate and reunify children with their families in an overall mission to break the cycle of poverty and abuse.

The film’s premiere also coincided with the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Global March Against Child Labour, which resulted in the International Labour Organization’s adoption of Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour, outlawing child trafficking and slavery. Founded by Satyarthi, the Global March Against Child Labour brought together a worldwide coalition of children’s rights organizations, as well as trade and teachers’ unions to form the single largest civil society network advocating for the rights of the most exploited children.

Commenting on the film, Satyarthi stated, “Slavery is an assault on humanity.  There is no excuse for the exploitation of millions of children to produce wealth at the cost of their childhood and freedom, especially in this day and age. I have never left any stone unturned in this fight, therefore I call upon the power of audiences at Sundance to join me and amplify the message against child trafficking and slavery that we must end in our lifetime. This is the place, today is the time and you are the people.”

The United Nations has made child labour a priority calling for its complete eradication by 2025 in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. There are currently 152 million child labourers around the world, of which over 4 million are trapped in slavery. Each year more than 1.2 million children are trafficked into forced labour, including work in the sex trade.

Inspired by the many children he has met and worked for in his life, Satyarthi recently founded the ‘100 Million Campaign’. The Campaign aims to inspire and mobilise young people to stand up and act for their own rights and the rights of their peers and to achieve the world’s biggest youth mobilisation to end violence against children, eradicate child labour and ensure education. By acting for themselves and with the support of experienced activists worldwide, the ‘100 Million Campaign’ aims to break the cycles of illiteracy, poverty and violence so that every young person in the world has the chance to fulfill their potential. The Campaign recently organised a 12,000 km-long march in India — the Bharat Yatra — that mobilised over 40 million children and youth to come together against child trafficking and sexual abuse.

Interestingly, another film Jhalki, a biopic is also being made on Satyarthi. The film, scheduled to be released later this year, features Boman Irani essaying the protagonist.