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Non literate Farming women make film history
Win a major national award
 

The prestigious UGC-CEC National Award for the Best Educational Video Film has been won by the DDS Community Media Trust, a group of women farmer-filmmakers from Pastapur Village in Medak District of AP. In a nationwide competition which had 246 entries, from some of the best known short filmmakers and the academia from across the Indian universities, the group of rural women has won two awards:

  • For the Best programme of the year
  • Citation for the Best programme on Environment and Development

The DDS Community Media Trust, a group of dalit women, most of them non literate has thus made history by winning a prestigious national award. This is for the first time in the India that a rural group of women farmers, all from some of the poorest families, have won such an honour.

The UGC – CEC [University Grants Commission – Consortium of Educational Communication] is an inter university body which promotes educational television for Indian universities by running an educational TV channel called Countrywide Classroom. The UGC CEC also holds an educational video competition every year, which is open to all short filmmakers in the country. The 2006 competition was the 18th Competition held by the UGC which attracted 246 entries which were screened and judged by a national jury consisting of eminent filmmakers and educationists

.The Deccan Development Society, DDS, is a two -decade old grassroots organisation working in about 75 villages with women's Sanghams (voluntary village level associations of the poor) in Medak District of Andhra Pradesh. The 5000 women members of the Society represent the poorest of the poor in their village communities.
The Community Media Trust came into existence on October 15, 2001 in fulfilment of the wishes of thousands of women from DDS Sanghams who demanded that their unrecognised voices are heard and acknowledged by the world outside.

The Trust is mandated to metaphorically hand over microphones and cameras to marginalised rural women so that they can produce their own images and voices and contribute an authenticity to the Media scene which is otherwise dominated by commercial and political interests whose agendas work in direct conflict with the interests of marginalised communities.

The DDS Community Media Trust has strived to take the images and voices of rural women to the larger world outside and create an alternative Media ethos. This alternative ethos is evolving into a media which can be accessed and controlled by the local communities, especially those that suffer continued exclusion

Over the last six years the DDS CMT has produced over 75 films covering a wide range of issues that include Women and Agriculture, Local Healthcare Systems, Agricultural Biodiversity, Cultural Traditions of the region etc.

The most memorable set of films made by the DDS CMT has been on the issue of Bt Cotton. Till date they have made three major films on the issue:

  1. Why are Warangal Farmers Angry with Bt Cotton – 2003
  2. Bt Cotton in Andhra Pradesh : A Three Year Fraud -- 2005
  3. A Disaster in Search of Success: Bt Cotton in Global South -- 2006

Both the first and the second have been translated into English, French, Spanish, Swahili, Thai and Bahasa Indonesia and is being used by environmental groups all over the world.

The third film A Disaster in search of Success……. has been shot in South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Mali and India and has documented farmers reactions to Bt cotton on their soil.