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Potsdam film university student at the Berlinale : A scar that touches

Potsdam - The scar is thick. It is clearly visible over Radha's lower abdomen. A caesarean scar - the baby has long belonged to another family. A white wealthy. The images that director Udita Bhargava draws in her film “Dust” are hard. The feature film is her graduation film at the Babelsberg Film University, which premiered on Friday at the 69th Berlinale.

"Dust" is set in central India, in and around the city of Indore - Udita Bhargava's hometown. For many decades, the rural area in particular has been characterized by guerrilla fighting against the government. There is poverty and desperation on site, as "Dust" shows very clearly. The film follows three characters, Morten Holst can be seen in the lead role of the German David. He's looking for a boy his deceased girlfriend took on camera shortly before her death. She was traveling as a photographer in the Indian crisis area, the Krishna (Abu Bakr Golu) she took is a member of the rebellion. His brother has deserted, which puts him in a dangerous position. Dr. Sharda (Vinay Pathak) is the mysterious link between David and Krishna. An authoritarian guerrilla leader who is also woven into Radha's (Kalyanee Mulay) fate: As a child, she fled her destroyed village - and ended up in his vicinity.

In contrast to the two male characters, the character of Radha has a comparatively small role in "Dust". Nevertheless, it is her fate that has a lasting impact, around which thoughts will continue for a long time. Just like the characters David and Krishna, it has long haunted Udita Bhargava's head. “The three characters came first,” says the 36-year-old director, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. The first idea for the film came up in 2012. At that time, Bhargava, who began her directorial studies in Potsdam in 2009, read an article about the unrest in central India, which inspired her to make film history. “With my film I would like to focus on the conditions on site,” says Bhargava, who is married to a Berliner and commutes between Berlin and Indore.

In Indore, she did not directly experience the unrest. “You don't feel any of this directly in the cities,” she says. Indore is not far from the dangerous areas. Their research is based on reports from journalists and photographers. The figure of the deceased friend of her protagonist David is a kind of homage to all those who risk their lives to be able to provide information about central India, she says.

The entire film "Dust" is shot entirely in Hindi - a language that David actor Morten Holst had to laboriously learn with a dialect coach. As the only non-Indian character, he introduces the audience to the story of the film and takes them on a journey to India. At the beginning this is a little overwhelming - for David as well as for the film viewers. You stagger with him through the shimmering heat, feel similarly dull and, like him, develop an understanding of the circumstances on site bit by bit.

“David opens the door and the world of film unfolds through him,” says Bhargava, who deliberately chose a male main character. “I also want and have to make films about women,” she emphasizes. But it is also important that women make films about men. “After all, men have been telling their views on women for a long time.” Nevertheless, it was important to her to have a female protagonist in the film - she really had to fight for Rhada, as she says. Among other things, because the time levels shown between the adult and the still small Rhada are not always clearly distinguishable.

In general, there are few explanations in "Dust", which is a fluorescent production of the rbb and is also funded by the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. Udita Bhargava demands the full attention of the audience - and relies on subtle emotionality. The film is never told in a kitschy or sensational way, but relies on closeness to reality. But it still touches deeply. Because his intense images - like the desperate look of Krishna, David's empty eyes or Rhada's scar - don't let go so quickly.

>> “Dust”, on February 17th at 2pm in the CinemaxX in Berlin and on February 23rd at 5.30pm in the Filmmuseum Potsdam

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