Cinema Politica is Back at Concordia

Bas! Beyond the Red Light captures the struggles of young women in India.

Part of what makes Cinema Politica such an important and essential film series is that it will always take you to a world you’ve never been to before.

Bas! Beyond the Red Light, directed by Wendy Champagne, does just that, taking you all the way to India to explore the heart-wrenching realities of young women who are being trafficked as prostitutes.

Champagne’s hand-held camera is her weapon and it constitutes her way of showing us a topic that’s been heavily researched for the better part of three years. That’s how long it took to make Bas!…, which means “stop” in Hindi.

The camera moves amongst Mumbai’s crowded and dangerous streets with expert flair. The cinematography is sheer perfection as Champagne shows the many sides affected in the Red Light district.

The girls interviewed in the film have all been subject to trafficking, having escaped or been saved by police raids. They are the heart and soul of Champagne’s movie. More than 300 children end up getting trafficked each year in India.

The movie also succeeds in shedding light on India’s police and government corruption, who, as the film portrays, are part of the problem and not always part of the solution.

Champagne focuses a big chunk of the film on a French-Canadian teacher visiting India and teaching dance therapy to the escaped girls at their own dormitory. Champagne attempts to bring a lighter, spiritual aspect to the movie with these scenes, but fails to do so. The viewer is more captivated by the private lives and dark secrets these girls have to tell.

Bas! Beyond the Red Light mixes harrowing observations from the girls, a candid interview from an unrevealed trafficker, local Red Light politicians and the many workers that help out at the rescue shelter. It’s all handled with care, thoughtfulness and reveals the scarred beauty these girls have in the midst of darkness. It’s a topic not enough people know about, and Champagne seeks to educate us.

Bas! Beyond the Red Light will screen at Concordia University (1455 de Maisonneuve W.) in Room H-110 on Sept. 20. The screening is at 7 p.m.All Cinema Politica screenings are free.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 05, published September 14, 2010.