The documentary India's Daughter focuses on the horrifying rape and murder of medical student Jyoti Singh in Delhi in December 2012 and the vocal public reaction to the crime.
Televised reports of those protests, which turned violent when authorities responded with tear gas and water cannons, transfixed British filmmaker Leslee Udwin. She had never directed a movie before, but she was an experienced TV and film producer who had spent some time in India.
So, Udwin set out to make a film about this incident that shocked the world. She went to India, where she interviewed the victim's parents, as well as the families of some of the men convicted of the assault. But the most controversial aspect of her film India's Daughter was an extended interview with one of the rapists, now in prison and sentenced to death.
That man's view of the crime was that the rape was the victim's fault because she was out at night. It's a sentiment echoed by his lawyers, who also appear in the film.
India's Daughter has been screened on TV stations and in movie theaters around the world, but it's never been broadcast in India. A court in that country blocked the broadcast days before its air date last March. Udwin, who was in India at the time, blames ads that had been created by Indian station NDTV to promote the film. The ads featured excerpts of the convicted rapist's sensationalist comments, without any context or other clips of the film. A judge banned the film based on these trailers alone, without seeing the rest of the film. A warrant was also issued for Udwin's arrest .
Udwin says she ignored the advice of seven different lawyers who told her to flee India after her film was banned. She did, however, managed to leave the country before she could be arrested.
While the film remains banned in India, it has aired elsewhere, including on the BBC in the UK. It will run on the PBS show Independent Lens in the U.S. on November 16 and is playing in theaters in New York and LA.
Leslee Udwin, filmmaker (@lesleeudwin)