TALKING FILMS

‘Baa Baa Land’: This 8-hour film on grazing sheep could put you to sleep – and its makers want that

The producers call it the dullest film ever made and are pushing it as a cure for insomnia.

Baa Baa Land has no car chases, explosions or star names. All it has is sheep and fields,” says the website of what its producers call the dullest movie ever made. The description could not be more accurate.

Baa Baa Land is an eight-hour film, described as a “contemplative epic” that consists entirely of sheep grazing on a field. It has no plot, no dialogues, no human actors. Produced by Calm, a company that promotes meditation and mindfulness through its apps and its website, Baa Baa Land has been created to make its viewers fall asleep.

“It’s a reaction to films like The Bourne Supremacy, which have an average shot length of two seconds,” Baa Baa Land’s producer Peter Freedman told iNews, “We’re billing it as ‘the ultimate insomnia cure’. Viewers can put this on on their phone or their tablet and wind down and drift off to sleep.”

British art film director Garth Thomas has shot and edited the film. Its title, as well as the poster, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the 2016 musical La La Land. The caption below the title reads: “Here’s to the ones who dream of... sheep.”

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Baa Baa Land.

Only the 19th longest film in the history of cinema, Baa Baa Land would remind people of the 2016 film, Paint Drying, which, true to its name, features 10 hours of paint drying on a wall. Such films are markedly different from the works of filmmakers like Lav Diaz or Bela Tarr who are known for making lengthy films but within the ambit of narrative cinema – movies with a story.

The first cut in Baa Baa Land comes after 77 minutes. The sheep are still there, eating grass and bleating and it is still a bright sunny day, the camera merely switches positions from one long shot to another. Anything remotely resembling an action sequence is the rare mid shot, five and a half hours into the film, when some of the sheep drink water.

Yes, Baa Baa Land could put you to sleep – and that’s exactly what the film’s makers want, at a time when rising stress and anxiety levels are constant exposure to stimuli is affecting sleep patterns. “It’s better than any sleeping pill”, executive producer Alex Tew is quoted as saying on the film’s website. Freedman, who also doubles up as the film’s “writer”, hopes the film to inspire research papers and have a cult following. “I hope that in future years, students of cinema will write PhDs and doctoral theses about [Baa Baa Land], saying what it all means,” he said.

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Baa Baa Land.
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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.