Estimates claim that almost 30,000 children are born with Down Syndrome every year in India. People with Down Syndrome can face severe hardships and poor treatment from a society that often misunderstands their affliction. In such a scenario, these seven stories offer hope and a more well-informed understanding of one of India’s most common genetic disorders.
In 2012, CurleyStreet Media was commissioned by the Down Syndrome Federation of India to create India’s first official film on Down Syndrome. The vision was to document the lives of those born with an extra chromosome, and educate people on what it takes to create a kinder, more aware, and inclusive society for the differently abled. Thus was born Indelible, a film about seven individuals living with Down Syndrome in India, and their path to embracing life with strength and grace, irrespective of the cards they have been dealt.
“You have to be proud of you…your life,” says Archana, one of the heroes in the film and a bubbly, confident young woman. Indelible takes us on a journey of truly getting to know these unforgettable people – their bravery, their struggles, their dreams, their fears, and the little things that make them unique. It makes one stop and think, “Why put labels and restrictions on those who are a little different from us? Why go by textbook definitions and assumptions born of prejudice, when all it takes is kindness and an informed mind to see beyond the stereotype?”
The making of this film was a labour of love and a process of discovery for us. The people we met became our friends, our inspiration, and a shining reminder of what sheer willpower can achieve. At its heart, Indelible is a story about hope, and a tribute to the indestructible human spirit.
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A 16-minute short version of the film was cut for screening at the World Down Syndrome Congress (2012), South Africa. The film helped India win the bid to host the next Congress in 2015. Critically, it won numerous awards, and screened across the world at various festivals. These included the Picture This Film Festival, DocuWest Film Festival, Texas Thin Line Film Festival, and Delhi Shorts Film Festival. The film was the #1 Non-Profit and Activism video on YouTube in India in August, 2012. It inspired hundreds of students around the country to volunteer vacation time at Down Syndrome Centres.
The film’s full version – a feature documentary – premiered at the 8th Seattle South Asian Film Festival (‘Tasveer’) in October 2013. It was also part of the Official Selection at the International Documentary Film Festival of Kerala, 2014. At the DocWeek film festival in Adelaide, Australia (2014), Pavitra Chalam, the film’s director, received the Asia-Pacific Award for Outstanding New Documentary Talent.
To find out more about living with Down Syndrome, please visit the website of the Down Syndrome Federation of India.