Drowned Out DVD released today. Yahey!

Date 15th Jul 2004

15 July 2004. press release "Once you see it, you can't unsee it"
Arundhati Roy
Spanner Films today release the DVD of their hit documentary ‘Drowned Out’.
3 hours of extras & 21 special features make it the most ambitious doc DVD ever.

‘Drowned Out’ tells the true story of an Indian family who choose to stay at home and drown rather than make way for the Narmada Dam. Filmed over three years in seven languages - with no budget, no commission and a short spell in jail for the director - the award-winning documentary described by Time Out magazine as “angry, compassionate, disturbing and yet empowering” has now been seen by more than 14 million people.

“You only have to look at the success of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ to see the appetite for political films,” says Director Franny Armstrong, 32. “I don’t know anyone who still watches TV.” Although “not as fat and hairy as Michael Moore” (Marmalade mag), London-based Armstrong is “something of a beacon to the grassroots filmmaking community” (Int’l Doc Mag). Her first film, ‘McLibel’ (1997) - featuring drama reconstructions by Ken Loach - was blocked by lawyers at both BBC1 and Channel 4, but seen by 29 million people: via TV (not UK), cinema (Australia, America), cable, satellite, colleges and 1500 viewers a month on the internet. DVD ‘Extras’ are often a couple of sycophantic interviews with actors. But Drowned Out rewrites the rules by giving a complex, emotive, political issue, spanning decades & continents, to dedicated (=obsessive) filmmakers with excellent access to their characters (no cash for hotels means sharing mud huts), no Commissioning Editor (=no time constraints) and a £6000 credit card limit. And the result is... The Drowned Out DVD features more than 3 hours of extras & 21 special features, including:

  • ‘Cinema Jalsindhi’. Spanner Films return with generator, projector and screen made from bedsheets. The villagers watch their first ever movie - indeed, their first ever moving image - starring themselves and telling the story of the end of their way of life.
  • Commentary with main character, village healer Luhariya Sonkaria, who collects medicines from the forest and lives off the land, but is somehow amazingly insightful about filmmaking. Plus Director Franny Armstrong and narrator Nina Wadia (‘Goodness Gracious Me’).
  • Two in-depth interviews with Booker-prize winning author Arundhati Roy (“The God of Small Things”) who spent a night in jail for her criticisms of the Narmada Dam.
  • More new docs, photos, music, trailers, filmography, crew CVs, quiz and lots, lots more.


    The $9 billion dollar, 3000-dam Narmada project in Central India will displace 250,000 people. It hit the news again last week when 20,000 inhabitants of Harsud town in Madhya Pradesh vowed to remain even when they are submerged during this year's monsoon, starting now. As Arundhati Roy says of the project: "Once you see it, you can't unsee it".


    Press contact: Lizzie Gillett.