Artist

Premika Ratnam

Premika Ratnam was born in India and educated there. At an early age she freelanced for All India Radio, producing radio documentaries for the National Features Cell and the Youth Channel, and spent many summers acting in plays for the experimental Young Stager's Club. Graduating with an honours degree in economics from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, she won a scholarship to study film and video production at York University.

While still a student at York, Premika directed the widely screened Children of War, a National Film Board production that found audiences in several countries such as Namibia and Japan. Following children from war torn countries through a tour of High Schools in Montreal, she focused on the differences in childhood and worldviews of young people all over the world. The film had more than 600 bookings in education institutions within the first six months of its release across Canada. It was also purchased by TVO and Vision. It has also been included in several film anthologies. Perhaps the most prestigious of them is an anthology of six films: Images for a Peaceful Planet, which includes two Oscar winning films.

An independent filmmaker by disposition, she founded Shadow Catcher Productions in 1987, producing and directing educational films on a variety of social issues. Working through her company, ShadowCatcher Productions, she specialised in working with community groups. Most of her films/videos were devoted to empowering immigrant women and combating systemic racism You Are Not Alone was translated into seven languages, and Burning Bridges, her first student film, was used to launch the family violence campaign of the Province of Ontario. It was also selected for numerous film festivals, that included Oberhausen Short Film Festival in Germany and UN Decade for Women's Conference in Nairobi, 1985. Sexual Assault: Can Rapists be Cured? won a CBC Telefest Prize. Her films have received recognition and screened in over twenty countries.

Premika has also directed two dramas for TVO - A Sari Tale and Hair Scare. A series of 9 anti-racist films. Premika was determined to direct her own work and was the only non-white director in the series. She is writing two feature films, Scarborough Murder Mystery, about the complex relationship between three women, one of whom may have been murdered set in Scarborough. The second looks at the new middle class in India, WOW TV.

She curated and produced a late night television show for WTN, EYE OF THE STORY. Last November, Premika sold her first independent documentary ACCESS DENIED, to CBC Newsworld's ROUGH CUTS.

Roll Over, Mahatma was selected for the New Initiatives in Films Programme from the internationally renowned agency, the National Film Board.

Videography

ACCESS DENIED

1995, 44:39 minutes, colour, English

Voice of Our Own

1989, 25:00 minutes, colour, English

Critical Writing

Focus on Helping Others
by Lori Cooper. The Toronto Sun, Nov. 13, 1995.
Women in focus for independent filmakers' meet
by Susan Walker. The Toronto Star, June 9, 1994.
Wake up, 'color blind' feminists
by Louise Brown. The Toronto Star, Mar. 14, 1989.
Feminist Films Air Minority Concerns
by Randi Spires. The Toronto Star, Dec. 8, 1989.
Film shows child victims of warfare
by Lois Sweet. The Toronto Star, Oct. 12, 1987.