At its most simple Kannagi is the story of a troubled marriage. Although several thousand years old, forming part of the of the Tamil epic Silapathikaram, it resonates with contemporary themes of female empowerment and vengeance explored, for example, in Beyonce’s Lemonade. Kannagi’s husband leaves her for a dancer and only returns once he has lost his fortune. While Kannagi agrees to take her husband back tragedy strikes when he is wrongly accused of a theft and killed without trial by the King. Kannagi retaliates by proving her husbands innocence and burning down the palace in a torrent of vengeance. The enduring popularity of this story springs not only from the marital drama it depicts but in the tensions it engages between vengeance and forgiveness, power and powerlessness, the personal and the political. These tensions are sharpened by the contemporary context of the story in which Kannagi has become a popular symbol: the wake of the civil war in Sri Lanka and the defeat of the Tamil liberation struggle. Australia is home to a sizeable Tamil refugee population and this project will create cross cultural dialogues between film makers who are seeking asylum in Australia and those who currently have citizenship rights. The project will be curated and filmed collectively whilst allowing each director to choose their own focus, script (if applicable) and interpretation, creating a multilayered viewing experience that will provide complex insights into justice and/or forgiveness.
Support Material Zanny Begg:
Excerpt from 1001 Nights in Fairfield, 2015.
Support Material Jasmin Tarasin:
Still from Akira Isagowa, The Closet Tales of Australian fashion, documentary on SBS, 2006.
Still from Utopia Girls, documentary ABC, 2010
Still from LIVE, installation for The Sydney festival, 2010
Mother, film and dance work, 2017
Other Support Material:
Documentation of Acting for Camera Workshop with members of the Tamil community and Elise Mcleod, STARTTS, Auburn, April, 2017. Convened by Jiva Parthipan.