The Revolutionary Optimists: A Documentary - Children Making Change in the Slums of West Bengal

Submitted by: Tsega Belachew on 03/12/13

“As a girl, I am always being told that things happen because of fate, but it’s the things I do, not luck, that determine my fate.” says Sikha, a young girl from the slums of West Bengal featured in a documentary film “The Revolutionary Optimists”.

The film tells the stories of three young children in Calcutta who are changing their destinies with help from Prayasam, an organization founded by Ashoka Fellow, Amlan Ganguly. Prayasam is an organization that works with children in the slums of West Bengal and that has teamed up with two talented Indian cinematographers to create the documentary film.

Ganguly’s approach empowers children to become agents of change in their own lives and to believe that a better future is possible. With encouragement and determination, these children living in dire conditions, have not only become the deciders of their own fates, but have also encouraged change in their community.  Through data collection, health education through theatre and dance, they cut down malaria levels and are preparing to take on the long ignored water issue in their community.

“The Revolutionary Optimists” was highly praised and it received the Hilton Lightstay Sustainabilty Award at Sundance this year. The film will be screened for the public at Lincoln Center in New York as part of their "Art of the Real" series on March 13th.  The film’s official opening will be on March 29th in New York City and April 19th in Los Angeles, with additional cities to follow. Find more information on the movie website.

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