The Daughter Tree

The Daughter Tree

Directed by Rama Rau

THE DAUGHTER TREE is a cinematic character-driven feature documentary with unprecedented access that explores the aftermath of a cultural preference for baby boys sweeping through interior India, through the eyes of a fearless warrior-midwife who counsels and advocates for baby girls, while a lone man in the Village of Men – so called because no girl has been born here the past three decades - goes on a quest to find a wife. The solution may just lie in a tiny village where a plan for saving baby girls is almost magical in its simplicity. From centuries, a lullaby has been sung in some villages in India, where baby girls have been “sent away” down the river and have been told to send back their brothers. The modern version of this is the ultra-sound, where the gender of the unborn baby is detected and if female, aborted. Every 12 seconds a baby girl is aborted in India. Every 22 minutes a woman is raped. The connection between these two statistics is at once horrifying and eye-opening. For the past two decades, modern technology has helped in the secret and rampant aborting of female fetuses, so much so that now there are vast stretches of sterile villages in India, where no girls have been born the past twenty to thirty years. The world’s largest democracy with a rapidly growing population of about 1.32 billion is poised on the brink of a seismic population shift towards male-centricity. It is said that by 2025 there will be 75 million single men who will never find a female partner, giving rise to an epidemic of violence, from gang rape to wife-trafficking, wife-sharing and ultimately, terrorist activities. Gaining unprecedented access with time spent in these villages, the verite in the film is observational, intimate and personal. THE DAUGHTER TREE takes us on a journey of a midwife struggling to encourage women to bring baby girls into the world. We witness her ongoing crusade as she deals with her pregnant clients, the fears and threats they deal with, their hopes and dreams. With the midwife story as a spine, we visit other “worlds” that are isolated within their own existence, yet all connected to our central theme: The Village of Men, where no baby girl has been born for two decades. In their quest for sons, the families here are now marooned in a womanless existence. It’s when we visit the Village of the Daughter Tree that we discover something quite magical has been going on in a remote corner of India. Every time a baby girl is born, a tree is planted. The tree grows, the baby grows. As an adult, she makes a living selling its fruit - this way the girl is independent and the environment is greener. If every family has a Daughter Tree, the Village of Men will be fertile again and the earth will dance, the trees will sing and the land will live again.

THE DAUGHTER TREE is an epic documentary film, six years in the making, about India’s horrifyingly rampant sex-selective abortions resulting in all-male populations in some villages. Every 12 seconds a baby girl is aborted in India. Every 22 minutes a woman is raped. The connection between these two statistics is at once horrifying and eye-opening. The world’s largest democracy with a rapidly growing population of about 1.32 billion is poised on the brink of a seismic population shift towards male-centricity. THE DAUGHTER TREE takes us on a journey of a midwife struggling to encourage women to bring baby girls into the world. In the Village of Men, where no baby girl has been born for decades, families here are now marooned in a womanless existence. It’s when we visit the Village of the Daughter Tree that we discover something quite magical has been going on in a remote corner of India. Every time a baby girl is born, a tree is planted. The tree grows, the baby grows. As an adult, she makes a living selling its fruit - this way the girl is independent and the environment is greener. They call this tree the Daughter Tree.

Cast: Neelam Bala, Sundhri Devi, Deepak Kumar