ALL FOR MY SISTER
Amar Maibam | India | 75min
A doping controversy, alleged to be a victimisation, threatens to destroy everything of a champion woman weightlifter. The golden girl fights back through uncertainties for her dignity back in place.
Belonging to a marginal family with many siblings, Sanjita Chanu dealt with striving adolescence, taboo and resistance. She chased her goal with determination to make a mark in the world of sports. It was almost absurd to embrace sports as a profession for a girl from the underprivileged section. She pursued her undaunted dream with diligence to be a sportswoman of national fame. Her journey rose to a dreamy height when she became the champion in the last two Commonwealth Games.
While undergoing training, as part of her preparation for the Asian Games, on 16th May 2018, the golden girl was informed by her Coach that she had been suspended from any weightlifting event by the International Weightlifting Federation because her urine sample was found positive with banned steroid traces.
Her world began crashing down. Her Govt. Job is in jeopardy. The Icon becomes an enemy of people overnight.
Sanjita insists that she was innocent. She never takes her passion to succeed through unfair means. She is frightened that she stands to lose her life-long achievements. As the successes of her life are getting dismantled piece by piece, she embraces it with greater desperation. Her younger brother Bijen join her fights to prove her innocence instead of getting crumbled by the pressure. Well, by then all who are supposed to stand by her side, have deserted Sanjita.
The film follows Sanjita and her brother through their fight against a collective to ensure the dignity and survival. The brother and sister takes it out in public to question the system which is marred by ignorance, lack of transparency and an intent of victimization. As they pushes the cause, the story unfolds a tragic journey of an individual who is in a war of defending her survival.
Bijen went to Budapest to defend her cause attending the hearing of International Weightlifting Federation in October 18, 2018. After two years the International Weightlifting Federation withdrew the charges against Sanjita Chanu and closed the matter due to certain non-conformities at the time of sample analysis.Her perseverance has finally paid off.
Bruised but reignited, she is back in the sports arena again and practising with passion and renewed zeal in the campus of Sports Authority of India to chase her next big dream. But the stigma and suspicion have already clouded her image as an icon.
She believes, however difficult it is, she would be able to offset the vicious impact of erroneous decision of the authorities and breathe in dignity and peace reclaiming the universe she has created for herself.
Amar Maibam is an Indian Filmmaker and Cinematographer from Manipur. He was born in Imphal into a Meitei family which is prominent in the field of art and culture. Starting his career as an assistant to his late Filmmaker father, Amar was drawn more into independent filmmaking because of the creative freedom to tell stories of the human experience and how we get by in this crazy world we all live in. Amar made his directorial documentary debut with City of Victims (2009) based on the extra-judicial killings in Manipur. His second Documentary My Generous Village won the special jury award & best music direction at the Manipur State Film awards 2019. NAWA- Spirit of Atey a documentary on the life of a 13 years old trans-boy Atey won the Best Documentary at 2 nd Nagaland Film Festival 2019. His film Highways of Life (2019) is on the Highway truckers of Manipur, which won best film award at the liberation Docfest 2020 in Bangladesh. It also won best documentary, best direction, best cinematography and best editing at the Manipur Film Awards 2020. He is now doing post-production for his latest documentary All for my Sister.
Expected date of completion:
Gap Funding, Sales Agents and Distributors.
Manipur, my state has considered as the sport’s power house of India because of the laurels brought by its player to the country. But when it comes to weightlifting there are a few unfortunate cases of doping which led to banning of some idols from the sports.
I know Sanjita since 2014 Common Wealth Games where she won the Gold medal. Again in 2018 also she won the Common Wealth Gold, Manipur Celebrated her success. Even the State Government announced a Big Cash Award on her success. Not even a month from the glory in the Common Wealth Games, she has been provisionally suspended from any weight lifting events by the International Weightlifting Federation as her urine sample has been found with banned substance. Her world began crashing down.
I saw her on the Television that she was defending the charges against her, this is the moment I decided to meet her and my quest was to find the truth. I was touched precisely from the humanitarian ground. It is deeply devastating for me to anticipate that pain and suffering she has to go through in negotiating her sudden downfall. Why we do not listen to her? Should we all be absolutely indifferent and judgmental? She might have done something wrong. Even standing by a person who has committed to an error momentarily would be a good cause. I was mostly motivated to be with her with an agenda that even a grievous error cannot be the end of life. This is the moment she needs healing touch; she may be needing someone around to have conversations to prove her innocence. To begin with, I was not sure about her innocence. Yet, I decided to be with her in her trying time irrespective of she is guilty or innocent. After a few weeks, as I started having intimate conversation with her, I was convinced that she did not dope.
For me this is not a story that attributes to Sanjita only. This has been a universal truth. Any individual can go through this at any given moment, at any given social space. Anyone can connect to this story. At the same time the film would sensitise viewers to take a compassionate stance to protect a human soul from crumbling down irrespective of she/he appears right or wrong.
I have been the person responded to her with same spirit. I am the believer of what I propose through the film – accountability, compassion and responsibility. She was a window to evoke in me the sense of love and respect for an individual without being judgmental.
This window finally reiterated in me a sense of urgency to be with people. And my intent gave me an incredible closeness to her in portraying Sanjita as a person of her own conviction.
My camera closely follows Sanjita’s journey to bring out an experiential participation of the audience into the private world of emotional battle when an individual is about to fall from the pedestal of glory. To me it is deeply touching for every individual to experience the predicaments and struggle Sanjita has been going through. She may have done something wrong for which she is going to pay the heaviest penalty of her life. She may, alternately, prove her innocence and unmask the system and its immunity at the cost of the careers of passionate sportspersons.
Finally, the story underlines an intimate journey of Sanjita and her brother who is trying to protect the position she has been breathing in and out and celebrating – an existential battle of her own. It is a real mix of aspiration, momentary lapses and punishment or it can be a story of conspiracy, ignorance and victimisation – but the arc of the story remains in the realm of the soul of a girl who is undergoing the biggest crisis of her life to survive