TIFF 2022 – Day Four
by Thom Ernst – Film Correspondent
(September 11, 2022 – Toronto, ON) To Kill a Tiger is set in the small village of Jharkhand, India. A 13-year-old girl collapses in the doorway of her home after surviving a brutal assault by three men—her cousin among the attackers. There is little doubt about the guilt of the accused, but in Jharkhand—as in thousands of villages across India—the crime is treated with the gravity of a domestic dispute and thought best to be dealt with within the community. The community advises Ranjit, the girl’s father, to marry his daughter off to one of her rapists because who else will want her now that she’s ‘stained’? But Ranjit does the unthinkable and stands by his daughter’s wishes to seek justice outside the village. Although his decision gains national attention, it ostracizes his family from their neighbours, garnering ridicule, scorn, and even threats.With To Kill a Tiger, director Nisha Pahuja has crafted a documentary that grips the audience with the suspense and twists of a John Grisham thriller, only the stakes here are considerably higher. Should Ranjit’s daughter win her case, it would send a message that the institutionalized misogyny and the outdated customs that normalize atrocities committed against women will no longer be tolerated. And though To Kill a Tiger speaks directly to the strength of a family bonded by their commitment to stand together, it also reveals the obscenity of upholding the cult of silence around abuse.
Pahuja’s access to all the players in the case help shape a tense, eyewitness account of the tremendous risks taken on by the family, their few supporters, and even the film crew. Told with immense compassion and bravery, To Kill a Tiger is Pahuja’s best film and one of the best documentaries at this year’s festival.
Pahuja and the film’s producers, Cornelia Principe (Notice Pictures) and David Oppenheim (The National Film Board of Canada), earned the standing ovation the film received following its first TIFF screening.
Canadian film lovers get a bit of a break with only one Canadian film screening tomorrow: Until Branches Bend screens at 8:30 p.m. at the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto.
Thom Ernst is a Toronto based film critic and writer and an active member of the (TFCA) Toronto Film Critics’ Association. His work has appeared in various publications including Playback Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. He is known to CBC Radio listeners for his lively contributions to Fresh Air, Metro Morning, and CBC Syndication as well as appearing on-air for CTV News Channel and The Agenda with Steve Paikin. He was host, interviewer and producer of televisions’ longest running movie program Saturday Night at the Movies. Currently he can be heard interviewing Canadian filmmakers on the Kingston Canadian Film Festival podcast, Rewind, Fast-Forward.