India’s Daughter: Leslee Udwin’s Docu about Fatal Gang Rape

British filmmaker Leslee Udwin‘s documentary, about the fatal gang-rape in December 2012 of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, has generated a lot of media attention.

The student was attacked on a bus while returning home with a male friend after seeing the film Life of Pi at a south Delhi cinema.  She later died from her injuries in hospital as violent street protests rocked India demanding more safety for women.

India’s Daughter included an interview with one of the four imprisoned attackers, Mukesh Singh, who said women were more responsible for rape than men.  Clips of the interview, which were shown on some Indian news channels, sparked outrage and ignited a social media campaign to ban the film.

Introducing the film ahead of its theatrical release in New York, Streep was quoted by Reuters as saying that the film deserved an Academy Award. “I’m on the campaign now to get her Udwin nominated for best documentary,” she said.  Streep added: “When I first saw the film, I couldn’t speak afterwards.”

Singh is on death row along with three others found guilty of the crime who are appealing the verdict. In 16 hours of interviews with Udwin, Singh, who drove the bus that picked up the young woman, said: “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy … Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good.”

When India banned of the film, Udwin said that opposition to her work in India is the product of misogynist cultural traditions and misplaced national pride.

“Like many countries on Earth, national pride comes into the decision,” Udwin said at Tina Brown’s Women in the World gathering at the Montage Beverly Hills. “I think it’s a misplaced notion. I think it has boomeranged and backfired.” She added that it “breaks my heart” that India, the world’s largest democracy, opted to engage in the very “un-democratic act” of banning a film.

India’s Daughter is set for a U.S. theatrical release on October 23.