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Despite The Gods / Dir. Penny Vozniak / 2012 / AUS / 90 min

Cinema’s prodigal daughter Jennifer Lynch braves the unmapped territory of Bollywood-Hollywood movie making, where chaos is the process and filmmaking doubles as a crash course in acceptance and self-realization.

Welcome to India, home of the world’s largest movie industry, where mere mortal film stars are worshiped with the same fervour as timeless Indian Gods; and the new buzzword ‘co-production’ looms on the lips of Indian financiers keen to form a Bollywood – Hollywood alliance. Yet, co-production of this sort is relatively uncharted territory. It would take immense courage or naivety for a US filmmaker to dive into the chaos that epitomizes filmmaking in India.

In 2008, Jennifer Lynch (daughter of cult director David Lynch), dove headfirst into this very scenario. She had just returned to the Hollywood fold after spending nearly 15 years in exile since being vilified by press and feminist groups for her debut film, Boxing Helena. Wounded by the harsh response of her critics, Lynch retreated from the public eye. Her second film, Surveillance, had just premiered at Cannes. Bolstered by this success she felt ready to take on more challenging projects. As fate would have it Jennifer meets maverick Indian producer Govind Menon, who invites her to write and direct Hisss.

Things go wrong very quickly. Lynch’s western need for order, systems and schedules is completely at odds with the Indian crew’s decidedly non-linear way of working – and lack of experience with films of this scale. But that’s the least of their worries.

Unable to control the chaos surrounding her, Lynch slowly and steadily spirals into a depression as her worst fears are realized: this could be the biggest disaster of her career…another Boxing Helena.

With uncensored candour, Lynch shares the heart- breaking and at times hilarious experience of being a director at the helm of a sinking ship. The camera becomes her confessional; a record of the madness within and without.

But all is not lost. After months of trials and tantrums, Lynch begins to see that Indian chaos at a second glance is actually very organized. To regain control of the film and her sanity she simply needs to let go of control and begin trusting in India, and in herself. Then the real adventure begins.