Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  50 minutes
Date:  2003
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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This title is included in the following collections: The Asian Studies Collection, The Docuseek2 Complete Collection 2nd Edition
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Traces writer Arundhati Roy's bold and controversial campaign against the Narmada dam project in India.


"I suddenly realized… I command the space to raise a dissenting voice, and if I don't do it, it's as political an act as doing it… to stay quiet is as political an act as speaking out."- Arundhati Roy, Author of Booker Prize Winner The God of Small Things

DAM/AGE traces writer Arundhati Roy's bold and controversial campaign against the Narmada dam project in India, which will displace up to a million people. The author of The God of Small Things, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1998, Roy has also published The Cost of Living, a book of two essays critical of India's massive dam and irrigation projects, as well as India's successful detonation of a nuclear bomb. In her most recent book Power Politics, Roy challenges the idea that only experts can speak out on such urgent matters as nuclear war, the privatization of India's power supply by Enron and issues like the Narmada dam project.

As the film traces the events that led up to her imprisonment, Roy meditates on her own personal negotiation with her fame, the responsibility it places on her as a writer, a political thinker and a citizen.

As she puts it in DAM/AGE, "The God of Small Things became more and more successful and I watched as in the city I lived in the air became blacker, the cars became sleeker, the gates grew higher and the poor were being stuffed like lice into the crevices, and all the time my bank account burgeoned. I began to feel as though every feeling in The God of Small Things had been traded in for a silver coin, and I wasn't careful I would become a little silver figurine with a cold, silver heart."

The film shows how Roy chose to use her fame to stand up to powerful interests supported by multinational corporations and the Indian government. For her, the story of the Narmada Valley is not just the story of modern India, but of what is happening in the world today, "Who counts, who doesn't, what matters, what doesn't, what counts as a cost, what doesn't, what counts as collateral damage, what doesn't."

In a clear and accessible manner, the film weaves together a number of issues that lie at the heart of politics today: from the consequences of development and globalization to the urgent need for state accountability and the freedom of speech.

"A moving, vividly potent film about the destructive effects of corporate greed and unchecked globalization, as well as the story of one woman's bold, admirable decision to place the needs of her country above her own. [DAM/AGE] effectively combines Roy's compassionate testimony with urgent documentary footage of the people and places that would be devasted by the Narmada project's completion. Highly Recommended!"—Video Librarian

"Excellent! Required viewing! A testament to the power of one person to activate millions to protest against environmental, political, and financial corruption. Once seen, the viewer never forgets the power of even one voice when it speaks out against environmental and political injustice. DAM/AGE powerfully illustrates that environmental threats are enormous in scope, enforced by powerful courts, governments, and corporations who, hand-in-hand, threaten the lives of hundreds of millions of people."—H-Environment Discussion Network

"Highly Recommended! The beauty of the documentary lies in the manner in which Roy questions the actions of the Indian State and International Organizations such as the World Bank so eloquently. The ideas presented in the film provide ample ground for discussion and contemplation."—Educational Media Reviews Online

"An urgent and vital film… Aradhana Seth's inspiring documentary charts Roy's progress, and her poetry, with bold accomplishment."—The Guardian (UK)

"A cleverly constructed documentary that wraps the story of the fight against the dams around the personal drama of Arundhati Roy. The film is rather amazing in the way it winds a range of related issues - India's nuclear standoff with Pakistan, the corruption of the World Bank and the Indian people's uprising against their displacement by the government's failed dam projects, to name a few - around the buildup of tension in the days before Roy's sentencing."—Metro Active


** 2005 National Women's Studies Association Film Festival
** 2004 American Sociological Association Film Festival
** 2004 Association for Asian Studies Film Festival
** Women's Achievement Award, 2003 One World Media Awards
** 2003 Amnesty International Film Festival
** 2003 Vancouver International Film Festival
** 2003 Locarno International Film Festival
** 4th Famalicao International Film Festival (Portugal, 2003)


Main credits

Roy, Arundhati (on-screen participant)
Seth, Aradhana (film director)
Seth, Aradhana (film producer)
Sengupta, Shuddhabrata (interviewer)

Other credits

Camera, Ranjan Palit, Satyajit Pande; additional music, Fratelli Brothers; film editor, Peter Spenceley.

Distributor credits

Docuseek2 subjects

Documentary Films
Rivers and Lakes
Environmental Justice
Habitat Destruction
Human Geography
Environmental Science

Distributor subjects

Business and Economics
Human Rights
Social Movements
South Asia
Women's Studies


film; video; documentary; Narmada; God of Small Things; Arundhati Roy; India; IMF; International Monetary Fund; World Bank; Booker Prize; campaign; dam; river; hydroelectric; The Cost of Living; multinational corporations; Power Politics; The Algebra of Infinite Justice; War Talk; "Dam/Age"; Icarus Films; "Dam/Age"; Icarus Films

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