Our Documentary Films
We are a film company dedicated to shedding light on injustices around the world. We are based in Santa Barbara. The company creates independent documentaries that offer new ways to think about how ordinary people change the world.
We work to bring people’s stories to life through their lived experiences
We work to create art that shows the world as it is and how it could be.
We work to build change for a better planet
Professor by day. Filmmaker by night.
I am a university professor by day and a filmmaker by night. I fuse my scholarship with social justice through the combined lenses of the movie camera and critical research. I was born in India, grew up in London and arrived as a professor at UC Santa Barbara in 1991. I am active in efforts to create social justice and a more livable planet through anti-racism, feminism and movements that foster greater economic equality.
Documentary film allows us to imagine a world that is full of possibilities for change.
Injustices around the world
I care about how to make the planet equal. I know we all can do that when we work together, whoever we are. The usual suspects are, of course, part of my world view: ownership of land, incomes, unequal treatment because of racism, gender discrimination, vulgar understandings of sexualities, refusing to support people because of where they were born, or how they arrived within the borders of a nation state. Mirror and Hammer is about sharing the stories of how we foster social justice, and how we can all live creative and enjoyable lives.
Some relevant facts!
1. Americans will eat nearly 18 percent of world’s chocolate confectionery by value in 2015
2. People of color make up about 75 percent of the world
3. As of 2010, there were about 488 million Buddhists around the world, representing 7% of the world’s population
4. Membership in worker co-operatives now equals more than 20 percent of the world’s labor force
Some Recent Projects
I have always insisted on the importance of seeing the world how it might be by understanding why it is as it is. I turned to documentary film-making in 2003 because documentary films, like novels, are able to bring people’s stories to life. By illustrating different methods of making change, my hope is that viewers are empowered to see that large change can be made on a smaller scale.
Shape of Water Trailer from Kum-Kum Bhavnani on Vimeo.
The Shape of Water is a feature documentary that tells the stories of powerful, imaginative and visionary women confronting the destructive development of the Third World with new cultures and a passion for change. The film takes us to Senegal, Israel/Palestine, Brazil, and India where these new cultures, alongside old traditions, end female genital cutting (FGC), offer innovative forms of opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and show how women are spearheading the implementation of renewable resources and rainforest preservation by tapping trees to obtain rubber. The Shape of Water also takes us to a vast co-operative of rural women in India (SEWA) and, in the foothills of the Himalayas, to a farm, Navdanya, set up to preserve biodiversity and women’s role as seed keeper. By interweaving images, words, and the actions of Khady, Bilkusben, Oraiza, Dona Antonia, and Gila The Shape of Water offers fresh and nuanced insights into the lives of women in the Third World.
Deep in the rain forests of Grenada, anarchist chocolate-maker Mott Green operates an unusual chocolate factory that turns out delicious creations unknown to a world saturated with industrially produced cocoa.
Nothing like Chocolate, a documentary film narrated by Susan Sarandon, tells the moving story of the relentless and headstrong Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, as he pursues his unique vision to create the best chocolate in the world, from scratch. See how the smallest chocolate factory in the world is doing enormous things for cocoa communities, and the world’s sweet tooth.
Educational license: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/nlc.html
More resources: http://nothinglikechocolate.com/press.php
LUTAH 6 Minutes from Kum-Kum Bhavnani on Vimeo.
Lutah illustrates the life of Lutah Maria Riggs (1896-1984), an architect and designer who lived and worked in Santa Barbara for much of her life. My documentary illustrates how her talents in designing the Vedanta Temple and the Lobero Theatre, for example, in addition to her designs to create livable homes were bolstered by her eccentricities, and her determination to live her live as a feisty and independent woman.
Home to over 25,000 people, an archipelago for remarkable creatures found nowhere else on the planet, the Galapagos Islands are themselves endangered.
We Are Galapagos weaves the intimate stories of a group of resourceful Galapageños who spearhead innovative conservation projects. Tinged with irony and humor, their determination and resilience presents a glimpse into community cultures making deep-rooted change.
This compelling documentary plumbs the imagination of the women and men of the Galapagos as they pioneer ground-breaking measures to offset the destructive impacts of climate disruption. It acknowledges our anxieties about the future of the planet, and provides welcome relief through the portrayal of a community that is taking a hands-on approach to safeguarding the environment. With dedication and good will, the residents offer tantalizing clues for how we might make changes to protect our planet.
Keep In Touch
Tel.: +1 (805) 898-0880
Department of Sociology
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9430