Documentary

'India's Daughter' filmmaker Leslee Udwin responds to critics

Filmmaker Leslee Udwin responds to critics of banned film about 2012 gang rape

 

The filmmaker behind an explosive documentary about a brutal gang rape in India that prompted protests across the region told FoxNews.com that critics who claim the film sensationalizes the crime or puts blame on the victim sorely miss the point.

"India's Daughter," which was banned in New Delhi, includes interviews with one of the men convicted of the fatal attack, his lawyers and family members of the rapists. An excerpt that went viral ahead of the film's Sunday screening shows one of the rapists expressing no remorse for the attack and saying the victim should not have fought back. Filmmaker Leslee Udwin says public outcry to the interview is unfounded.

"Those early, hysterical, knee-jerk reactions in India were from people who had not seen the film. There was no copy of the film at that point," Udwin told FoxNews.com. "You cannot, if you are a reasonable, civilized human being who wants to engage in an issue that is bigger than you, actually, bigger than me, bigger than all of us, you cannot go out saying such things without seeing the film. They were commenting on an advertising trailer campaign."

Last week, New Delhi banned "India's Daughter," saying the film was likely to cause a breach of law and order. The documentary was slated to be shown simultaneously across seven countries on Sunday in conjunction with International Women's Day. Indian television station NDTV showed a blank screen for the entirety of the program's time slot.

"I was just so in awe of and respectful of NDTV's decision," Udwin said. "Very difficult decision for a broadcaster who has been told that broadcasting this film is now illegal, is somehow a shameful thing, to actually make that kind of statement ... was so admirable. I love NDTV. They are my heroes for doing this."

Delhi's high court refused to rule on the ban Thursday, and the decision will now go to Delhi's chief justice next week.

Meanwhile, the film has been widely circulated online and this week an activist screened the film in the Indian slum where three of the rapists lived.

"Of course, the India government ban has ensured that this film now does proliferate on the Internet, but I have to tell you I am respectful of laws, in any country, and because there is a footprint of YouTube or torrents in India, it is my duty to bring that film off those channels and that is what I do," Udwin said. "I will not break laws. I am respectful, I am moral, I have integrity, despite the witch hunt – this Salem-like witch hunt against me by those who are more interested in hiding their shame than saving their women."

"India's Daughter" tells the story of a 23-year-old medical student who was brutally gang raped by six men in the back of a private bus. She died days after the attack. Four men were sentenced to death in the killing. Her death sparked massive protests across India and the world.

"It wasn't the civil unrest that got me making this documentary. It was the protests," Udwin said. "These momentous, courageous protests, you know, unprecedented numbers of people. Ordinary men and women in India who took to the streets across India's cities to cry, 'Enough is enough. We will not have our women unsafe. We will not have our women disrespected.' And for me, India was actually leading the world by example. This is what took me out there."

Udwin says the shocking opinions expressed in the film by the convicted rapist and his lawyers about women are reflective of many men in that part of the world.

"But let us not forget, this is not India only," Udwin said. "Men have the balance of power in the world. We are underrepresented in governments. We don’t have equal rights in terms of implementation of laws. We don’t have equal pay. It's only a question of degree. And in many countries, we are so grossly offended against, our human rights are violated."