Tehelka - The peoples paper, India

‘The Half-Moon Files, about India World War I POWs, left me crying’

I was at the Berlin Film Festival recently and saw a 90-minute docu-fiction film at the International Forum of New Cinema, called The Half-Moon Files: The Ghost Story. It’ll be coming to India shortly. Made by a German director Philip Scheffner, it’s about the time after World War I when a number of Indian soldiers fighting for the British were taken captive by the Germans. They were kept in a prison camp (called Half-Moon camp, which is where the name of the film comes from) near Berlin. The Germans subjected them to biological experiments, and also recorded their voices. Ninety years later, the director came across the audiotape of a colonial Indian POW called Mall Singh, who spoke about his village and how he hoped to go back some day. It’s a beautiful experimental film that talks about the politics of race, but it’s also about not making the film the director wanted to. I was crying at the end of it. It tells us much about the German temper of the time and how people were treated as mere specimens. Truly a disturbing film.
Onir is the director of My Brother Nikhil