The 3-minute documentary ‘Seed Mother’, which showcases the work of agri-biodiversity champion Rahibai Soma Popere, is a nominee in the ‘We Are What We Eat’ competition held by BAFTA, Nat Geo, Nespresso and will be screened before the main awards ceremony at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Rahibai, 55, has created awareness about the need to propagate native species and variants of grains and vegetables in her native Khombalne village in Maharashtra. Called ‘Seed Mother’ for her pioneering work, she has won the Nari Shakti Puraskar instituted by the ministry of women and child development. The documentary is directed by Achyutanand Dwivedi aka Achu, for whom this is his second Cannes invite. The winner will be announced on May 17. Abhijit Agarwala has worked as assistant director.

Rahibai told TOI she’s happy about the nomination. “India has a rich and diverse variety of native grains, millets and vegetables. Eating native food will help people stay healthy. There's nothing like eating at home — be it sabudhana, jowar or nachani.”

For Achu, her story was very inspiring and seemed a perfect fit for the competition. Achu tapped the BAIF Development Research Foundation to locate her. Just before Holi, Achu and Abhijit travelled to Ahmednagar, Maharashtra to meet her. “We ate splendid meals, food for the soul and stomach,” said

Abhijit, adding, “Shooting was fun because kids there had never seen a drone and they just loved it.”

Another serendipitous moment was when villagers started singing folk songs to celebrate Holi. “For a director, getting the right music is a challenge. But, their songs were perfect for what we shot,” Achyutanand said. For the director, who hails from Bakiya village near Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, shooting the documentary felt like homecoming. "My father Amresh Kumar Dwivedi, 61, farms back home. The first thing I did was buy seeds from Rahibai and send them to him,” he said.

‘Seed Mother’ is shot in the vertical format. "Our eyes are used to moving left to right. Making a film where one has to see top to botton was challenging, restricting but very exploratory," said Achu, adding, “People are used to cellphones and this helps. The vertical format has great possibilities.”

Alfonso Gonzalez, chief customer officer, Nespresso, said, “We seek out people who think differently, push boundaries and demonstrate creativity. We’re proud to support films with a focus on young talent and innovation.” Read more

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