Short film by three priests from Kerala tells an endearing story of how children cope with crisis
‘David & Goliath’, written by Father Jose Puthussery and directed by Fathers Jacob Koroth and James Thottiyil, features at the Kerala International Documentary and Short Film Festival (IDSFFK).
When three priests from the Archdiocese of Angamaly got together to tell a story, one of them wrote about two little children taking matters into their own hands as children from poor families do, and the other two have. made a movie. Father José Puthussery, a young Catholic priest who loved to write but hadn’t seen many films, scripted the tale. Fathers Jacob Koroth and James Thottiyil, more used to watching movies and also being a couple, realized it. David and Goliath, fruit of their labor, was selected in the Short films of isolation and survival category at the Kerala International Documentary and Short Film Festival (IDSFFK).
“The Chalachitra Academy had organized a scriptwriting competition on the themes of isolation and survival. Ours was one of 10 out of 800 scripts that won awards. Father Jose Puthussery chose the context of COVID-19, wondering how children from the poorest families without outside help would cope with the pandemic if one or both of their parents fell ill, ”said Father James Thottiyil at TNM.
Years ago, when Father José was working with people in the back alleys, he saw a little boy – a grade 3 student – selling lottery tickets to buy food for his sister and to lead the family when their two parents fell ill. “This is where her story comes from, of how small children in a poor family would deal with the pandemic and act in a practical way, since they have no one else to take care of. them, ”says Father James.
In David and Goliath, you watch a group of healthcare workers draw road maps and travel to remote locations to track people with COVID-19. It was the first months of the pandemic when Kerala recorded fewer than 500 total cases, and the rest of the world praised the state for its proactive measures. But in the film, the children become real heroes, surprising the caregivers who come to see their mother.
The mom you don’t see onscreen is very alert and has obviously prepared the kids for an emergency like this. She should be isolated in a room, away from them, while they attend to their needs. The oldest is a boy of about seven or eight, with his little sister following him everywhere. The two keep a certain distance from each other, gripping the ends of their mother’s old sari wrapped between them. The mother endearingly used games and stories the children understand to help them get through the ordeal, reminding you a little of the tragic pieces of the Italian drama Life is Beautiful.
“We named the film David and Goliath for two reasons. In one aspect, the children represent David and the health workers who come to take their mother, Goliath. In another aspect, David is the symbol of Kerala, or the hidden mother in the film, and Goliath is the disease. We have used the Malayalam version of David (Daveed) and the English name Goliath to suggest this link between Kerala and an international disease, ”says Father James.
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