This landmark documentary is the fourth film in renowned ethnographic filmmaker David MacDougall’s long-term, five-part study of childhood and adolescence at the Doon School in northern India.
This film focuses on life in a school dormitory. A new group of 12-year-old students is arriving to start their lives at the school. The film follows them from their first day, exploring their emotional and intellectual lives as they experience homesickness, fights, classroom teaching, and the stirrings of group identity. Although these boys are the same age as those in the earlier “With Morning Hearts,” the group dynamics captured here are very different from that film.
Within the group are boys of varied personalities and backgrounds — some natural leaders, some subject to teasing and bullying, some argumentative, some peace-makers. Especially notable are the conversations among the boys about such matters as the causes of aggression and warfare, homesickness, restaurant food, and how to speak to a ghost.
Along with “Doon School Chronicles,” “With Morning Hearts,” and “Karam in Jaipur,” this profound cultural portrait will take its place among the classics of ethnographic cinema. It will generate thought and discussion in a wide range of classes in cultural anthropology, Asian and Indian studies, visual anthropology, education and childhood studies, and post-colonial studies.
Note: The DVD version of the film is fully authored, with menus and chapter markers put in by the filmmaker. It also features optional closed captions, which the VHS version does not have.
"Continues MacDougall´s Doon School project with a series of nuanced observations on the adolescent struggle of making locality out of an alien place. Through exploring the contexts of conflict, loneliness, confidence, trust, and friendship, the film evocatively captures children´s strategies of negotiating a world where belonging can not be taken for granted. This is a poignant document of young lives manoeuvring between personal anxiety and worldly confidence, at once reflective and entangled in the moment." — Assoc. Prof. Sanjay Srivastava, Assoc. Head of School, School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin Univ., Melbourne, Australia, author of Constructing Post-Colonial India: National Character and the Doon School (Routledge, 1998)
"This film redefines the terms of debate in visual anthropology cinematically by means of an intimate portrayal of the emotional and sensory world of the new boarders in Foot House at the Doon School. Not only will this film be a valuable resource for those concerned with teaching and research on youth culture, it will also be of interest for those concerned with the study of communities, identity formation, socialization, and masculinity. The Doon School films can be used productively to stimulate discussion of ideas in MacDougall´s book, Transcultural Cinema. Specialists on India will find the films useful as a complement to Sanjay Srivastava´s Constructing Post-Colonial India: National Character and the Doon School. — Dr. Chris Gregory, Reader in Anthropology, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National Univ.
Margaret Mead Film Festival honoree
Assn. for Asian Studies honoree
Society for Visual Anthropology honoree
Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival, Oxford (UK) honoree