Sakthi Vibrations, USA, 2018 (85 mins)
Zoe Sherinian – Producer/Director
Led by two progressive Tamil Catholic nuns, the Sakthi Folk Cultural Centre in Tamil Nadu, India, uses the Tamil folk arts to develop self-esteem and economic skills in young Dalit women (outcastes or untouchables). Sakthi reclaims the degraded parai frame drum to re-humanize and empower the young women through the physical embodiment of confidence in performance and a regenerated cultural identity in a complex campaign against gender, class and caste subjugation. This ethnomusicological documentary seeks to reveal and analyze Sakthi’s outstanding model for Dalit women’s development that integrates folk arts performance with social analysis, micro-economic sustainability, self-esteem and community development.
Zoe Sherinian is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Division Chair at the University of Oklahoma. She has published the book Tamil Folk Music as Dalit Liberation Theology (Indian University Press 2014), articles on the Dalit parai frame drum in the journal Interpretation (2017), and articles on the indigenization of Christianity in Ethnomusicology (2007), The World of Music (2005), and Women and Music (2005). She has also produced and directed two documentary films: This is A Music: Reclaiming an Untouchable Drum (2011) on the changing status of Dalit (outcaste) drummers in India, and Sakthi Vibrations (2018) on the use of Tamil folk arts to develop self-esteem in young Dalit women at the Sakthi Folk Cultural Centre.