Chess documentary wins hearts at Iffi

PANAJI: When British Indian documentary filmmaking couple Ian McDonald and Geetha J discovered the world of blind chess through a tiny newspaper report, they knew they had something incredible in hand.

Most viewers would consider a 100-minute documentary made in black and white with no narration reason enough to shy away from a screening. Yet it is these very characteristics that added to the popularity of Algorithms, a documentary that subtly challenges the notions of vision, foresight and the superiority of the sense of sight by following the lives of the three 'most promising' blind chess players in the country and their pioneering blind mentor Charudutta.

"I am not trying to romanticize blindness. The limitation of sight, however, does not affect the blind as much as the limitations of society imposed on the blind hinders them from being fully integrated in to society. In a way we tend to be over reliant on our sense of sight," McDonald the sports sociologist said. The duo were initially overwhelmed by the "paradox of using a visual medium to image those without sight," but overcame that by gaining the confidence of their protagonists.

Darpan, Sai Krishna and Anant, their protagonists, are a determined trio aiming to be an entrepreneur, journalist and IAS officer respectively. "Darpan, a budding entrepreneur, thinks we are mad to invest money and time on a project with uncertain guaran-teed returns," Geetha said.

"Chess is the only game that the blind can play on par with the sighted. While the film appears to be a sports film on the surface, it explores our notions of sight and vision as well," shared Mc Donald who is also a sports sociologist. Blind chess, Mc Donald said is a "phenomenon that is popular globally with India playing a dominant role."

The documentary in English, Hindi, Tamil and Odiya has a Carnatic musical score that enhances the structure in the film. "The documentary. It is a medium about engaging reality and exploration of new worlds and is not just boring and preachy, Mc Donald said.

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