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Tortoise Under the Earth film image, director Shishir Jha

Tortoise Under the Earth

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International Premiere

Shishir Jha enters the scene with this richly layered cultural snapshot, thoughtfully excerpting an intimate tragedy to contextualize the wider environmental disaster enveloping the Santhal tribe, an ethnic group native to India and Bangladesh, whose lives are at risk by their proximity to uranium mining.

Centering on the story of a young couple trying to come to terms with the loss of their daughter, Tortoise Under the Earth captures a heartbreaking sense of yearning, gradually expanding on the narrative scope to include regional specificities. Jha adopts a hybrid docu-fiction format to accentuate the layers of subtext at play, weaving ethnological and anthropological elements, and elegantly casting a macro lens over a heartfelt micro storyline. The gentle, observational gaze results in mesmerizing imagery, glimpsing tribal traditions and folklore, and a spiritually rich way of life in harmony with nature. Jha impresses with fresh, intuitive filmmaking, drawing from an immersive process that results in a sense of immediacy and powerful humanist messaging.


Presented by


Jagarnath Baskey, Mugli Baskey

Country of Origin





In Santhali with English subtitles

Film Contact
95 min
Drama Human Rights & Social Justice

Book Tickets

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Shishir Jha


Shishir Jha


Shishir Jha

Original Music

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Shishir Jha headshot, Tortoise Under the Earth director

Shishir Jha

Shishir Jha is a Mumbai-based filmmaker born in 1988 in Bihar, India. He graduated from the National Institute of Design with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Video Communication Design. He then did a Master’s in Film Direction at the Sarajevo Film Academy, and has received a Filmmaking diploma from the late Abbas Kiarostami’s workshop at Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión (EICTV) in Cuba. He is one of the directors of Shuruaat Ka Interval (2014), an anthology film released by PVR Director’s Rare.