“If not for you, I have no other true love When we work together the sun sets early Without you I am nothing”
Close to the India - Myanmar border is the village of Phek in Nagaland. Around 5000 people live here, almost all of whom cultivate rice for their own consumption. As they work in cooperative groups — preparing the terraced fields, planting saplings, or harvesting the grain and carrying it up impossibly steep slopes — the rice cultivators of Phek sing.
The season's change, and so does the music, transforming the mundane into the hypnotic. The love that they sing of is also a metaphor for the need for the other - the friend, the family, the community, to build a polyphony of voices.
Stories of love, stories of the field, stories of song, stories in song. ‘Up Down & Sideways’ is a musical portrait of a community of rice cultivators and their memories of love and loss, created from working together on the fields. It is the first feature film from the u-ra-mi-li project, a larger body of work that looks at the connections between music and labor.
New Asian Currents Award for Excellence & the Directors Guild of Japan Award at Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival and Best Film at Cinema Planeta Environmental Film Festival
“Up, Down, and Sideways is a compelling look at a region of India that many Indians even consider to be exotic and foreign.” – Screen Anarchy
“Up Down and Sideways is a beautifully shot documentary that sheds light to a relatively unknown part of India and its inhabitants, as it also transcends the borders of the ethnographic film through its basic theme, music.” – Asian Movie Pulse
About the filmmakers
Anushka Meenakshi (left) has worked as a filmmaker and a community video trainer. Iswar Srikumar (right) is an actor and a lighting/sound designer for theatre. Iswar and Anushka are both members of Perch, a performance collective in Chennai comprising of artists from various disciplines. In 2011, they started the u-ra-mi-li project (the song of our people), which focuses on stories about music in the everyday, through writing, photography, performance, and film. The u-ra-mi-li project has received support for its work from the India Foundation for the Arts, pad.ma, the Archive and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology and has been selected for the NFDC Film Bazaar WIP Lab (2014) and Docedge Kolkata (2015). We have been commissioned by National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai), Puthu Yugam, National Museum of Denmark, Human Factors International and the Pune Biennale 2017 and exhibited work at the National Gallery of Modern Art (Mumbai) and the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, among others.