Independent Film Digest - The Sound View writes a review
“If you had the golden threads that could challenge fate and immortalize the beauty of the world through art - if you had the power to preserve this treasure, would you?”
This is the central question that drives BUNKAR: THE LAST OF THE VARANASI WEAVERS, the documentary that tells the story of one of the world’s oldest artisan practices. This hour-long film explores the history, present challenges, and potential future circumstances of the craftspeople responsible for the hand-woven fabrics of Varanasi, India. Varanasi weavers have been a constant presence in Indian culture, outlasting millennia of regime changes and cultural shifts, bridging linguistic and religious gaps along the way - but their future has been made uncertain by the development of industrial weaving machines that attempt to replicate their work. Director Satyaprakash Upadhyay introduces viewers to artists and artisans from every facet of the craft to prove that this handmade tradition is worth celebrating and preserving, while also offering ideas as to how the world can come together to support this incredible practice for generations to come.
This film is magnificently transportive in its examination of Varanasi culture and industry. With its rich color and meditative score, viewers become immediately invested in the world of the film. All facets of the filmmaking process, from storyboarding to editing and everything in between, look and feel like they are as hand-crafted as the film’s subject, giving the documentary a sense of warmth that’s not easy to achieve in nonfiction filmmaking. This is critical to the film’s success, as it makes the very specific story of these weavers and the economic and industrial obstacles they face feel globally relatable, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its specificity.
BUNKAR is a celebration of human creation and connection, and a reminder to all of us to celebrate each other’s traditional crafts for their heritage and beauty. More importantly, it’s a reminder to value your creative artists and their work before it’s too late. Highly Recommended.
- S. Lyons for The Sound View.
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