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THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER

Ram_DevineniRam Devineni is a New York based filmmaker, publisher and founder of Rattapallax films. He has produced and directed the feature documentary The Human Tower, which was shot in India, Chile, and Spain. Recently, he produced Amir Naderi’s feature film, Vegas: Based on a True Story, which premiered at the Venice & Tribeca Film Festivals. Devineni is one of the founding partners of Academia Internacional de Cinema, the first independent film school in Brazil. Ram is the brainchild of “Priya’s Shakti”, a timely digital comic book project which highlights cultural challenges for the rape victims in India.

Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.

Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself.

I am a documentary filmmaker and publisher of a literary magazine called RATTAPALLAX. I was born in India but grew up in the New York area.

What is “Priya’s Shakti” all about?

Priya’s Shakti is an innovative social impact multimedia project that helps illuminate attitudes towards gender-based violence (GBV), Priya’s Shakti arose in the aftermath of a highly-publicized gang rape on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012 that outraged India and the world. The project centers on the Goddess Parvati and Priya, a mortal woman devotee and survivor of rape — together they tackle sexual violence problems in India and around the world. Central to the project is an augmented reality (AR) comic book & exhibition – the first of its kind with international outreach and social engagement. In the AR comic book, certain panels are animated to feature real-life stories and voices of Indian women who have survived sexual assault and faced the ensuing trauma and social stigma. These pieces are short documentaries, but the women will be animated in order to protect their identities and can be activated through a free AR APP.

Talk to us about the support for this project by Tribeca New Media.

Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund from the Ford Foundation has been an early supporter and believes in the social activism of the project mixed with interactive storytelling.

What would you consider as you one best achievement thus far?

We recently released the digital and print copies of “Priya’s Shakti” at the Mumbai Film and Comic Convention in December 2014 and immediately it went viral with over 150 new stories all over the world including features on BBC, Guardian, New York Times, NPR, NBC News, and all of the major newspapers and publications in India. The comic books started a national debate in India and around the world on how society treats rape survivors and the harm of patriarchal views.

Any upcoming projects or initiatives you would like to discuss?

We are releasing the comic book in New York City as the featured project of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in May 2015. Also, I recently produced a featured documentary, THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER, which was selected for World Cinema Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival. (http://www.sundance.org/projects/the-russian-woodpecker)

What are your leisure time activities?

Traveling around the world.

Thank you

For more details, visit www.priyashakti.com

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