Berlinale: Programme

Film File

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Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali

Tobacco Embers

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Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali documents, re-enacts, and takes forward one of the largest movements of unorganized labor of its time and context, which sparked unionizing processes across India throughout the 1980s. In the spirit of mobilizing for the leftist labor and the women’s movements the Yugantar collective spent four months with female tobacco factory workers in Nipani, Karnataka in India, listening to their accounts of exploitative working conditions, discussing strategies for unionizing and steps to broaden solidarities for strike actions, and filming previously unseen circumstances inside the factories. The team followed the workers’ leads as to what, where, and how their actions should be recorded, and developed a loose script through the workers’ narratives. Yugantar’s commitment to the complexity of political friendships and how to ‘stand with’ provoked a then pioneering collaborative filmmaking practice embodied in large scale reenactments, a voice-over as pluriverse testimony, and the production of the first screen presence of working-class women ‘speaking to power’. A powerful example of a feminist third cinema, now available to be revisited and to spread its film/political energies.


India 1982


Documentary form
26’ · Black/White


Navroze Contractor
G.V. Somas Hekhar
Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst



The film collective Yugantar was founded by Deepa Dhanraj, Abha Bhaiya, Navroze Contractor, and Meera Rao in 1980. Between 1980 and 1983, during a time of radical political transformation in India, Yugantar created four pioneering films together with existing or ensuing women’s groups.


1981 Molkarin (Maid Servant); 25 min. 1982 Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali (Tobacco Ember); 25 min. 1983 Idhi Katha Matramena (Is This Just a Story?); 25 min. · Sudesha

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

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