Towards the forest
Rajasthan, India 2018.
Eco-feminist feature documentary project.
Direction: Sofía Nicolini Llosa
In conservative India, being born a woman can be dangerous: millions of female infanticide and child marriages occur every year, mainly because of financial reasons. Yet one town, in the middle of the Rajasthani conservative desert, has seen none for over a decade.
When Sunder Paliwal, Piplantri's town Major, lost his daughter to illness, he vowed to honour her by filling the world with what she loved most: trees. As other families joined in, the ritual turned into a policy: in Piplantri, for every baby girl born, 111 trees are planted and money is gathered by the community to cover every girl’s future dowry, thus relieving each family’s financial burden for raising a girl. But there’s a catch: parents must agree not only to take care of the trees but to keep their daughter in school, unmarried, until the age of 18.
A decade later, the town’s water level, female newborn population and bridal age have risen immensely. A new women-run green industry has emerged. Piplantri has gone from desert to oasis, from abuse to empowerment.
12-year-old Guraj is a lot of firsts: first generation recipient of the eco-feminist policy, first girl in her family to read, first girl in her school to hold the highest GPA, first girl in town with dreams of a higher education. However, the “traditional values” of Indian society at large are still stacked against her. Her dreams have rooted, but will they hold? Will she find the means to pursue the life she imagines for all women beyond patriarchy?