For filmmaker Jennifer Lynch, daughter of renowned director David Lynch, it was a long 15 years between her Razzie Award-winning directorial debut Boxing Helena and her sophomore feature Surveillance, winner of Best Film at Sitges in 2008. Despite The Gods is a documentary that follows the filming of her third feature, the Bollywood film Hisss (originally titled 'Nagin, The Snake Goddess'), a movie about 'a snake who becomes a girl who becomes a snake' that was to be 'an admiration of sensual sexual female bravery' in Lynch's own words.
In Despite The Gods, we see Lynch working hard and passionately through the long shooting schedule under adverse filming conditions. She comes across as a genuinely nice person with a big heart and wicked sense of humor, who would say to an actor after an impressive performance, 'go sit down like you have broken some world record for excellence'. She talks candidly in front of the camera on her experience making Boxing Helena when she was 19, her views of men and also briefly about her famous father. Her pre-adolescent daughter Sydney (whom Lynch calls her 'finest production to date') accompanied her for the production, and the documentary touches on their mother-daughter relationship as well.
It is not all light-hearted, however. Audiences gain some insights on the lives of the Indian people. There are scenes of mobbing of the film crew, as well as arguments over filming when worship is taking place. The lead actress of Lynch's film, Mallika Sherawat, shares that if a girl is seen wearing a short skirt, she runs the risk of being negatively judged and rejected by her society.
Director and cinematographer Penny Vozniak seems to have chosen the best of many months' worth of footages and edited it into a wonderful film in itself. The actual process of the film shoot should be of great interest to many lovers of cinema. Filled with heartbreaks and immense frustrations, as well as some triumphant moments and numerous funny lines from Jennifer Lynch, Despite The Gods is an entertaining documentary that is a lot of fun to watch.
Despite The Gods had its Australian premiere at this year's Sydney Film Festival, which is running till June 17.
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