Documentary Film: The World Before Her Screens in Toronto to November 21, 2012

From a media release:

presents the multi-award winning
The World Before Her
directed by Nisha Pahuja

Canadian Theatrical Debut  -  Continues to November 21, 2012
The Bloor - 506 Bloor St. West, Toronto

(Toronto) -
Amid fresh headlines of religious extremists; war against women, Nisha Pahuja's The World Before Her has emerged as one of the year's most prescient and acclaimed documentaries.

A vivid portrayal of culture clash between beauty pageantry and Hindu religious extremism, The World Before Her returns to Toronto Nov. 9 for a special engagement at the Bloor Cinema, an eventful six months after its Canadian Premiere at HOT DOCS.

Since winning the Best Documentary Feature award at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, The World Before Her has been featured at more than 50 film festivals, from Zurich to Sydney to Reykjavik to Rio, winning “best” awards at Tribeca, Hot Docs, Edmonton, and Traverse City.

Via unprecedented access, The World Before Her contrasts the wide-eyed ambitions of 20 hand-picked contestants determined to win the Miss India pageant, and the behind-the-scenes reality of Hindu fundamentalist camps for young girls that are run by the women's wing of a militant movement.

"This film has been my life for the past few years," says Pahuja, "and for it to touch so many people and receive such positive reactions around the world, has been a heartwarming, humbling experience that has far surpassed any of my expectations."

The film sees the young women contestants from across India arrive in Bombay for a month-long beauty "boot camp," where winning the coveted title would mean instant stardom, a lucrative career path, and freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society. It is the ultimate glamour event in a country that has gone mad for beauty contests.

But as its popularity has exploded, so have furious protests over its Western-style "decadence." As the pageant unfolds, director Nisha Pahuja travels to another corner of India to visit a bi-annual training camp for young girls run by the Durgha Vahini, the women's wing of a militant fundamentalist movement.

Through lectures and physical combat training, the girls learn what it means to be "good" Hindu women and how to fight corrupting outside influences by any means necessary. This is the first time that a film crew has been allowed to enter these camps.

The contrast between the vehement determination of the pageant contestants to obtain a title that could change their lives forever, and the passionate desire of the camp leaders to fight and even die for their beliefs, is at times overpowering.  Nisha has effectively balanced both these perspectives through a provocative portrait of the world's largest democracy at a critical transitional moment.

Writer|Director: Nisha Pahuja
Producers:  Ed Barreveld, Nisha Pahuja, Cornelia Principe,

Editor: David Kazala
DOP: Mrinal Desai, Derek Rogers
Executive Producers: Ed Barreveld, Mike Chamberlain, Andy Cohen, Nisha Pahuja
Production Company:  Storyline Entertainment