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Some Alien Creatures
In this carefully observed and richly nuanced film about a progressive co-educational boarding school in South India, young boys and girls jokingly accuse each other of being like "alien creatures." In exploring this gender divide, renowned ethnographic filmmaker David MacDougall examines the lives of three boys at the school: Ashutosh, aged 10, Anjney, aged 12, and Deepak, aged 14. The engaging portraits that emerge reveal the thoughts and resourcefulness of the boys as well as their problems, dreams, and daily activities.
The film provides keen insight into contemporary Indian childhood as well as gender relations. At the same time, it examines the everyday reality of one of India's most famous and influential schools, The Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh, which is founded on the educational philosophy of Krishnamurti, one of India's most prominent 20th-century thinkers.
Like MacDougall's earlier five-part series on India's Doon School, Some Alien Creatures is a compelling and insightful cultural portrait and an essential work of ethnographic cinema. It will generate reflection and discussion in a variety of courses in cultural anthropology, Asian and Indian studies, gender studies, education, visual anthropology, and psychology.
"This is a sensitive, nuanced film about children's identity constructions in a gendered context. The setting is a co-educational boarding school, the Rishi Valley School, a rare kind of school in India, and one that values autonomy and a global outlook. This makes for a particularly important telling of gender relations among young students, captured flawlessly by David MacDougall's visual ethnography. I was enthralled and my students fascinated by the complexities he captures and draws out." -- Professor Meenakshi Thapan, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi