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Documentaries On:

Leaving Home

Produced, directed and written by Robert Richter

Video Librarian: Recommended ***(3 stars)
"An intense, troubled, impoverished, fierce and hopeful true story — right now." -- Gary Snyder

"India's New Focus on Rape Shows Only the Surface of Women' Perils"
New York Times, Jan. 13, 2013

For Renu leaving home is different
For Renu leaving home is different


Leaving home is what most of us do —
eventually. It's different for Renu. Will she fulfill her dreams of leaving her village home to become a teacher in the big city?

Most of India's 1.2 billion people live in villages. This documentary is about one of these villages, 100 miles north of Delhi, with prime focus on Renu and her coming-of-age.

"Leaving Home" is about rural life, castes, marriage, weddings, family, motherhood, fatherhood—and change. And, as it develops, it is a film about women's rights.

As the film unfolds, many may be shocked by the restrictions on rights for teenage girls and women in the village. All of this is “normal”—and is documented in our new film—as we see Renu's coming of age in a way of life that many in other cultures consider to be one step up from slavery.

American anthropologist J. Michael Mahar has been intermittently living in the village for over a half-century. Our guide and colorful and revealing story teller, he has seen the village move from the 18th to the 20th century before his eyes. He arranged our unusual access to those we filmed.

Nishu Varma, a journalist who is also our interpreter, talks with women with no men in hearing distance. Her revealing conversations about sex, abuse, dowry and other traditions has never before been in a film about India.

Study Areas: anthropology, south Asia, India, women's rights, human rights, family, fatherhood, motherhood, castes, untouchables, weddings, adolescent behavior
Harvesting sugar cane
Harvesting sugar cane

Sugar Mill 5 miles from village
Sugar Mill 5 miles from village

village school boys
village school boys

chopar
chopar

Cinematographer filming village women and Dr. Mahar
Cinematographer filming village women and Dr. Mahar

Renu and her family
Renu and her family

village man smoking chillum
village man smoking chillum

villager Sham Sher on left, Director Robert Richter on right
villager Sham Sher on left, Director Robert Richter on right