ALGORITHMS ... four moves in, we are all blind
BREAKING NEWS: Algorithms selected for an international film festival! Official announcement in May. We urgently need your support to bring this story about young blind chess players in India to an international audience. Please back us! And to our first ten backers, we say – a special thank you!
In India, a group of boys dream of becoming Chess Masters, driven by a man with a vision. But this is no ordinary chess and these are no ordinary players. Algorithms is a documentary on the thriving but little known world of Blind Chess in India.
Filmed over three years from just before the World Junior Blind Chess Championship in Sweden in 2009 to just after the next championship in Greece in 2011, it follows three talented boys from different parts of India and a totally blind player turned pioneer who not only aims to situate India on a global stage but also wants all blind children to play chess.
Algorithms travels with the chess players to competitive tournaments and visits them in their home milieu where they reveal their struggles, anxieties and hopes. It moves through the algorithms of the blind chess world challenging the sighted of what it means to see. Going beyond sight and story, this observational sport doc with a difference elicits hidden realms of subjectivity. It allows for the tactile and thoughtful journey that explores foresight, sight and vision to continue long after the moving image ends.
Algorithms is the first ever feature documentary on Blind Chess.
IAN (DIRECTOR) ON THE DOCUMENTARY:
Chess is an ancient and universal game with origins in India. When Geetha and I began this project in India in 2008, we knew what we were encountering was unknown, complex and beautiful. Then began a journey that challenged our perception of ability and disability, of sight and vision. The paradox of using a visual medium to image those without sight that weighed heavily on us lessened with the complete trust we gained by being with the community through the years. Four years later and with over 240 hours of footage, we began to compose the first ever feature documentary on Blind Chess. Initially, my concern was to capture this mind game as a game of equality for the blind and a metaphor for life. Chess demands patience and foresight that go with being blind. Four moves in, it puts the sighted on par with the blind. Blindness that emerged as ‘difference, not lack’ then went beyond to actually critique our ocular-centric world. Also, with one constant focus on the truth of the lives of the blind chess players, the slant shifted from the sociological to the philosophical. I began to understand the Indian verse: sukha dukhe same kritva – that joy and sorrow, profit and loss, winning and losing are but the same; they torment us but we must treat them as same and engage in life. Finding hope in hopelessness and possibility in impossibility, the Blind Chess community moves forward, reminding us of the forgotten significance of touch and of the materiality of our social existence in an era dominated by the visual and the virtual.
Algorithms had its world premiere at the International Film Festival of India 2012. It was also a 'Film Bazaar Recommended' film at the industry event running parallel to IFFI and screeners have been taken by the some international festivals attending the Film Bazaar. Please visit www.algorithmsthedocumentary.com and go to the Press page to know more about the interest generated from just one screening of the film in Goa.
SCREENING MASTER FOR INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
Why do we need further funding? We have taken this film forward from a nascent idea in 2008, first shoots in 2009 to final shoot in Jan 2012 to almost a year long edit and final copy in time for its World premiere at the International Film Festival of India. This we have done as independent filmmakers. The lack of grants and funding sources for documentaries especially in India (we managed to get a couple of small grants in UK) prompted us to ask for support from individuals who could contribute to the film in cash and kind. A sort of non-online crowd sourcing, along with a couple of angel-investors. And, we have done the post-production work to a high professional standard. However, the picture grading we did was not to a big screen projector. This is expensive. We also want to take the desired high quality outputs, which again is very expensive. Then we need to send off the film to as many high profile international film festivals as possible. We need a minimum of £10,000 and anything more will go towards high end outputs and towards promoting the film - go to festivals, take it to markets, and meet distributors who can get it on the big screen or small or both.
While we have begun the process of sending off submission copies to festivals, ideally, we would like to do the grading work and have a big screen exhibition copy ready by April-May. The international premiere is crucial for this film. To get the film to its international audience, we need your support.
This film is ambitious in its aesthetics, weaving together the aspirational with the meditative to reflect on sight and vision, sound and touch. It is not just us filmmakers who are eagerly awaiting the response of the sensitive film viewing public in the world to this film, but it is also the blind chess community. Often ignored, they want visibility!
THE CHESS PLAYERS:
Charudatta Jadhav from Mumbai is a champion player turned pioneer. He discovered the game of chess soon after he went blind in his teenage years. It gave him confidence and a purpose in life. Convinced of the power of this game, he has dedicated his life to develop chess for the blind. A highly successful IT professional, Charu is a man of great drive and ambition, and he aims to situate India in the top five countries for Blind Chess.
Darpan Inani from Baroda is the most talented and highest ranked totally blind player in India. This idiosyncratic, confident and highly intelligent teenager is focussed on what he wants to achieve in chess, and in life. Darpan possesses a wisdom that belies his young age. He is a topper in his sighted school and wants to be the first blind entrepreneur of India.
SaiKrishna S.T. from Chennai is the ambitious rising star of blind chess in India. He is fun-loving, gregarious and makes friends easily. But as a partially sighted boy faced with the possibility of going totally blind, there is a lot more steel to Sai’s character than at first appears. Sai studies in a blind school and is again a topper. He wants to be the first blind journalist of India.
Anant Kumar Nayak from Bhubaneshwar is a promising new talent. He is a gentle boy with an endearing if slightly eccentric personality. With a strong sense of moral duty and responsibility, the totally blind Anant struggles to balance his commitment to chess and studies. Anant has come second in training exams for IAS and hopes to be a rare blind IAS officer of India.
Risks and challenges
There is minimal risk in supporting this first ever documentary on Blind Chess as we are seeking funds for the final bit of post-production, polish and push as it were. But the challenges are ever-present. It is sheer commitment to the documentary and to the community that has taken us this far. Now we need to take this film to its international audience primarily through film festivals. The main challenge is to complete in time – we need to have the absolute final exhibition copy ready soon. As stated earlier, screener copies have been taken by some very impressive festivals. We need to be ready in April with the final exhibition copy. Apart from festival interest, we have some interest from big screen distributors. We need to be able to give them the right outputs for the big screen. For all this we need to raise funds and we are confident with your support the film will get in shape to meet its international audience.
One final word about the reward – this is not really a risk but we just want to err on the side of caution. We have put the delivery date of the Special Limited Edition (100 only) Donor-Copy DVD as Nov 2013. We have not put that lightly as if this final work funded by all of you goes ahead as planned then the anticipated theatrical release of Algorithms is Nov 2013. But just in case there is some delay beyond our control, we will provide a private secure online link to viewing the film before Nov 2013 and that will be followed by the DVD, but no later than a year from now. This is not likely to happen and we will discuss the changing scenario with all of you if it does.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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