Hindu scriptures say a person who commits suicide becomes part of the spirit world, wandering the earth until he/she would have normally died.
Over the past 15 years, more than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. Many had borrowed money through government lending schemes or private lenders to plant more efficient crops, but could not pay off their debts. Because of the extremely fast transition India has undergone — from a rural to an industrial, urban economy with an open market — farmers have been confronted by immense social and economic problems.
This has especially impacted cotton farmers in the state of Maharashtra.
“I’ll Die For You” explores the epidemic of farmer suicides using still photography, video and archival documents. The project takes as its focus the peculiar bond between man and land, a relationship unique to farmers given their reliance on the land for livelihood and the equal reliance of the land on farmers for survival. It's a relationship based on love, trust and nurturing and goes far beyond the customary attachment one has with his/her source of livelihood. This relationship is symbolically represented in close up pictures from farmer's skin juxtaposed against details from the landscape photographed in a way that attempts to blur the distinction between man and land to show in this environment the land and its inhabitants are one and the same: When one dies, so does the other.
This short film is my window into film making. It is narrated by farmers who experienced the suicides first hand as it was imperative for me to attach a face and voice to this story - to humanize the issue and bring it to the attention of a global audience given the story remains largely under documented in the international media.
copyright 2013 © Laura El-Tantawy / VII Photo Mentor Program