Arts-Hori Alone in Kolkata

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (5.23): Mr Speaker, last week I was fortunate enough to be able to represent the Chief Minister, in his capacity as minister for the arts, at the premiere-and I have to say it is the first time that I have been to a film premiere-of the film Hori Alone in Kolkata, which was screened at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre from 23 to 26 March. Hori Alone in Kolkata was the debut feature film of Canberra director, Ms Paramita Roy. The film, which runs for approximately an hour, tells the story of Mohammed, an 11-year-old Muslim boy, who travels from his village to Kolkata to find a job so that he can support his sisters and mother back home. It is hard for him being alone in a large, predominately Hindu city, as he works as a domestic in one household after another. The film covers many areas. The young boy meets up with his older brother who makes him change his name because it would not do to be in a Hindu city with a Muslim name.
Mr Speaker, this is a very touching film and I recommend that members make the time to view it if it is screened again. The work, which was completely financed by Ms Roy, reflects her dedication and desire to make her film as authentic as possible. In January 2005, as part of a team of five from Canberra, Sydney and Darwin, she travelled over to India with her son Rubik, who acted as first assistant director and helped with the script. ANU film student Ken Ochiai joined the team as a second camera operator. Most of the additional crew was hired in India and filming took place over five days. I believe that Ms Roy worked on a rough cut of the film in India and Ben Nunney, who works at the ABC in Canberra, completed the editing. The film demonstrates what someone can do if they have the desire and the know-how. I was very impressed with the quality of its actors and production values.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to personally meet Ms Roy at the premiere of the film last Thursday. After the film, Ms Roy answered questions from the audience about the film. She said that the reason she wanted to make the film was to highlight the hidden issue of child slavery. Working in a school, she sees that we often as a western society take many things for granted, such as going to school, shelter and family. She wanted to highlight the differences in respect of the issue of child poverty in a place the size of India. The film has not been produced just for Australian society but is being distributed in India, and there is a hidden issue within India itself. A person commented at the end of the film that they felt she had particularly well highlighted in a very sympathetic and empathetic way the issue of poverty as being the root cause of child slavery. I have to say that it is a beautifully produced film. Although you can tell that it is not a high-level production film, it is just wonderfully done.
Ms Roy, who teaches at Calwell high school, has also developed a multimedia educational resource on CD about Indian classical music and a brief history of the cultural heritage of India. The package is available as a teaching and learning resource for Australian schools and gives students the opportunity to learn about the arts and cultures of another country. It is a credit to the ACT film industry that members of the ACT community are becoming involved in cultural film projects and that the resulting films are released in both the ACT and the rest of Australia. It is also encouraging to see cross-cultural relationships like this one being forged.
Finally, I would like to give my congratulations again to Ms Paramita Roy as writer, director and co-producer of Hori Alone in Kolkata, and all the cast and crew involved with the film. I hope that it ends up being screened again because it does highlight what is a very shocking, disturbing issue.
Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Assembly adjourned at 5.28 pm.