Private Project

Sama in the Forest

Sama in the Forest explores the power of stories to shape, challenge, and change our understanding of the world. It delves into the subversive role women’s folktales can play in a patriarchal society. Our film is set in Madhubani, a district in India’s state of Bihar, where a rich cultural identity extends from the mythical past into a globalized present. Maithil identity is passed on through its renowned painting tradition, as well as through its lesser known wealth of orally transmitted folktales. Women play a central role in both of these expressions. In a creative collaboration with local community members, we highlight the tale of Sama, a princess who wanders into the forest and befriends a young man, only to be slandered by a muckraking confidante of the king, who is also Lord Krishna, and subsequently cursed and banished by her father. The film combines footage of women telling different versions of the tale, narrative paintings, a dramatization of the story, a yearly festival that celebrates Sama, and in-depth conversations about the morals and meanings of this and other traditional tales. The girls and women at the heart of our film are students and teachers at the Mithila Art Institute, a small school for young aspiring artists. Other participants, community members of of different genders, castes, and generations, help paint a fuller picture of the complex social changes happening in Mithila today.

  • Carlos G. Gomez
  • M.S. Suman
  • Coralynn V. Davis
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental
  • Genres:
    participatory documentary, ethnographic
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    60,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • SiGNS film festival
    February 21, 2023
Director - Carlos G. Gomez