Ian McDonald’s Algorithms is a sneak peek into the lesser-seen world

first_imgSport-sociologist Ian McDonald’s first documentary feature Algorithms takes viewers into the lesser-seen world of blind chess competition in India. It does so movingly by following three characters for three years both in India and abroad. They include Charudatta Jadhav, the General Secretary of the All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AIFCB), and two chess prodigies in Darpan Inani, a totally blind boy from Gujarat, and Sai Krishna ST, a partially-sighted player from Chennai. PVR Director’s Rare will be releasing the movie on Aug 21 in theatres across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi. What drew you to the world of blind chess and its young practitioners? I am a sport-sociologist turned documentary filmmaker. So I have a particular interest in sporting cultures, especially non-mainstream sports. And as a documentary filmmaker, I am drawn to ‘other worlds’, untold stories. For me the process of filmmaking is a journey, a voyage of discovery. So way back in 2006 when I was in India just finishing a short film, a small report tucked inside the pages of a newspaper about blind children playing chess caught my attention. I was curious to find out more about this but was unable to pursue it at that time. The idea would not leave me. Eventually Geetha, my creative collaborator, said ‘Come on, let’s look into this’.In late 2008 we investigated further and eventually made contact with Charudatta Jadhav, the General Secretary of the All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AIFCB). Charudatta invited us to the National Team and Junior Blind Chess Championship in Mumbai in January 2009. There my initial curiosity turned to amazement when we discovered that there was a thriving but hidden community of blind chess players in India. That is where the film starts.advertisementWe decided on the three boys during the first shoot itself. Darpan’s reputation preceded him. He was the undoubted star of blind chess. The young Sai Krishna was the rising star while Anant was the ‘new kid on the block’. He had just started to play chess but was recognized as being very talented. It just so happened that the three boys came from three different parts of India: Baroda, Bhubaneswar and Chennai, each hailing from three socio-economic classes. And furthermore, together they represented the span of visual impairment with Darpan being totally blind and having no visual memory, Anant also totally blind but with some visual memory, and Sai Krishna who is partially sighted but facing the prospect of going blind due to a genetic condition. But actually there is a very important fourth character in the film, ‘Charu-sir’, the unassuming but inspirational pioneer of blind chess not just in India but internationally.  The movie highlights how instrumental a figure Charudatta Jadhav is in the blind chess scene in India. Did his support make it easier for you to shoot the film?  Yes, Charu is an unassuming but inspirational pioneer of blind chess not just in India but internationally. He is a fantastic role model for blind kids everywhere. After talking to us, he got convinced we were sincere in our intentions. We wanted to go in-depth and capture the truth of this world, both the highs and the lows. He was indeed instrumental in convincing the AICFB and the International Chess Braille Association to give us the freedom to shoot at all of their tournaments.   Once you had the story, was it always on the back of your mind that you needed to follow all these characters for a longer duration as opposed to just one competition? Before we went to Mumbai in January 2009 for the first shoot, we had thought that this might be a six-month shoot and that we will cover one national and one international competition. But after Mumbai, we knew that this was not a film that could be completed quickly. As an observational documentary filmmaker, six months is a quick film! We knew that this needed time, time to do justice to the subject matter, to explore all the different layers of meaning and the complexities of the blind chess world, and of course to gain the trust of our subjects. So it ended up as a three-year shoot, with over 250 hours of footage, that took over 12 months to cut into the 100 minute version you will see in theatres. What prompted you to shoot the film in black and white? Was it to reflect the colours of the chessboard?We decided to make the film black and white very early on in the editing process. The images had a much greater intensity and an intimacy than in colour, and the film as a whole felt much more of a piece and more immersive in black and white. Not one person has ever come up to us and said it they would have liked to have seen it in colour! In fact many people have commented that they quickly forget that they are watching a black and white film, because it feels so natural.advertisementThrough Darpan one can sense the parental pressure that kids face–the need to succeed. This is especially evident in the behaviour of Darpan’s mother. Is that an aspect that you want to subtly highlight?Darpan’s mother is incredibly devoted. I don’t think she is a typical pushy parent. That is a superficial reading of her character. She is more complicated than that. This takes us back to an earlier question of needing to spend time to capture the complexities of relationships. Had we just done one shoot, the first tournament in Mumbai, where we see Darpan’s mother get very upset at the outcome of a match, then it seems that she is a rather pushy parent. But then as we get to know her, we see how she is always there for Darpan, supporting him in his training, and also how she is there for other children. Was it difficult for you to convince the parents to give you access to their personal space?This is where Geetha, my wife, was key. See, no matter how comfortable I am in India, no matter how empathetic and committed I am to the subject of my documentary, I can never forget that I am still a white male from Europe. Even if I spent ten years on this film, I could never gain the kind of trust and intimacy that Geetha is able to as an Indian female with an ability to speak the different languages. It also helped that she was a former journalist with a very gentle interviewing style. For example, she gave the parents the emotional space to talk about the trauma of how their children went blind. Are you still in touch with the kids? What are they up to? Yes, we have stayed in contact. And they are all doing very well in their studies. They were all toppers in their respective schools and colleges and are all now flying in their degree studies. Chess has taken a back seat for now but they all recognize the contribution of chess in giving them the confidence to succeed in the sighted world and the contribution of chess in their intellectual development. Do you share Charudatta’s belief that a blind person can become a grandmaster?Yes I do. Why not! I think it’s a long way off, but with the right support and infrastructure I think it is a realistic goal–ambitious, but realistic! And when we do have a Blind Grandmaster, I wouldn’t be surprised if he or she is from India!advertisementlast_img read more

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NBA: Hawks willing to take back Ryan Anderson from Rockets

first_imgAdvertisementAccording to Bleacher Report, USA Today NBA insider Sam Amick took to Twitter on Tuesday night to cite league sources and explain that the Houston Rockets aren’t interested in acquiring or even pursuing Bazemore in a deal that would send Anderson to the Hawks.The Houston Rockets have long been rumored to want to get out from under the $20 million per year deal they gave Ryan Anderson a few seasons back, and now, with the team in the midst of changing personnel on the wing after losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute to free agency, they’ve been active lately in trying to move Ryno for some additional help.On the court, Bazemore figures to improve the defense considering he posted a career-best 1.5 steals per game last season and improved Atlanta’s defensive rating from 107.4 when he was on the floor compared to 108.9 when he was off it, per NBA.comAlso Read-NBA: Dallas Mavericks sign Donte Ingram to a deal Advertisementlast_img read more

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Top Stories

first_img Top Stories When asked about Peterson’s contract extension, which made the 24 year old the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, Dockett didn’t hesitate to lavish some lofty praise on his teammate.“He’ll definitely be a future Hall of Famer,” Dockett told reporters at Cardinals Camp in Glendale on Wednesday.He went on to offer his two cents on the loud debate over who, exactly, is football’s best cornerback — Peterson, Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman, New England Patriots’ Darrelle Revis or someone else — saying there was “no question” that his teammate was on top.“I’m not going to say no one else is better than him,” Dockett said of Peterson. “He works his tail off. He’s a dominant corner. He’s smart. He’s one of the most athletic guys in the league. And he plays hard.”Question after question came Dockett’s way about Peterson, his greatness and the size of his contract, and the quick-to-speak defensive lineman never shied away from the task of heaping votes of confidence upon his teammate. And he made a point of emphasizing Peterson’s work ethic and drive, above all else. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires 0 Comments   Share   Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo “He’s definitely deserving of everything he has earned,” he said. “He’s one of the young leaders around here. “He plays lights out. We knew the day would come. He’s one of those guys that’s humble and willing to prove to people that he’s the best corner in the league.”Then, as if in an effort to put Cardinals fans at ease that Peterson won’t be changed — on or off the field — by his suddenly magnified paychecks, Dockett offered a brief anecdote about the teammate he believes is Hall of Fame-bound. “He came in the locker room after he signed and you couldn’t even tell that he signed for that much money, because he was like, ‘I’m just ready to go to work.’” – / 13 The Arizona Cardinals didn’t sign Patrick Peterson to a record $70 million deal with the expectation that he’d slump into mediocrity, of course.Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim and the rest of the organization expects the opposite — the greatness Peterson has shown the league since he was drafted in 2011.And one member of the organization in particular, fellow defender Darnell Dockett, expects a high level of that greatness. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

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