An award-winning documentary about India's young blind chess players has secured a general release in cinemas throughout the country.
Algorithms, directed by Dr Ian McDonald, a Senior Lecturer in Film Practice at Newcastle University, follows three boys over a number of years as they compete in blind chess tournaments in India and abroad and visits them in their homes where they reveal their struggles, anxieties and hopes.
Ian was inspired to make the film after reading an Indian newspaper clipping about blind chess back in 2006. “It was a community that was almost unknown to the outside world,” he said. “Yet it was thriving and that fascinated me.
“To be part of their world for three years was a transformative experience. It changed my understanding of ability and disability and reminded me of the forgotten significance of touch.
“Chess is really a mind game and is one of the few games where a blind person can play on par with a sighted opponent. In fact I made the mistake of challenging one of the boys to a match and he beat me in five minutes flat!”
Dr Geetha Jayaraman, the producer of Algorithms will be joining Newcastle University as a Lecturer in Film Practice in September, to teach the new degree in Film and Media. She said: “We are reeling from the rave reviews that our film is getting in India. It’s fantastic for the film and for blind chess and a vindication of years of hard work and sheer persistence!”
Algorithms was released in the USA in October and the UK in November 2014. It was nominated for a Grierson Documentary award and a National Film Academy award in the UK and has received accolades from all over the world, including:
- Best Foreign Documentary at the Los Angeles Femme Film Festival 2014
- Best Story Award at Krasnogorski International Festival of Sport Films, Moscow, 2014
- Best Editing Award at the Mumbai International Film Festival, India, 2014
- Best Film at Film South Asia, Nepal, 2013
- Audience Award at the RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Films, UK, 2013
- Prix du Patrimoine Culturel Immateriel at the Jean Rouch Film Festival, Paris, 2013
- Special Mention in the Best Documentary category at the Durban International Film Festival, South Africa, 2013
published on: 25 August 2015