Cowboys in India
British journalist Simon Chambers, director of this gently self-mocking travelogue, journeys to India in the hope of finding the answer to an honorable journalistic question: is it possible for a large industrial company to help a local community through charity? But the local community of Orissa will surely regret the day that Chambers drove into their town. First off, he recruits guides whose competence turns out to be questionable: on a mountain climb, they are unable to locate the promised river water, the chauffeur takes off, and the remaining guides come up with all kinds of excuses -- from leg pains to toothaches -- to avoid working. But Chambers's amusing lament (accompanied by a Western-style soundtrack) changes tone when he discovers the real reason for his guides' reluctance. Vedanta, the British mining company that he is investigating, holds the entire community in its grip. Rumors surrounding the murder of a resistance leader feed fears of reprisals by Vedanta, which is suspected of dubious practices. Chambers stumbles upon hospitals built by Vedanta with no doctors, toxic waste dumps, and stories of trucks running people over, but he seldom uncovers the truth. In the end, Chambers has to change his opinion of the guides. He realizes that far from being wimps, they are heroes for daring to accompany the foolish foreigner despite threats from Vedanta.
Teddy Leifer for Rise Films, Paul Taylor for Rise Films