Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Open Your Eyes: Spreading Light in Nepal
intraocular lens is a small surgical implant that restores vision to those
blinded by cataracts. They used to carry a five-hundred-dollar price tag, but
they now cost less than two bucks. This probably seems unfair to congressmen
with an intraocular lens factory in their districts and the local unions
greasing their palms, but it has been a godsend for the curably blind in
developing nations. Irene Taylor Brodsky follows an elderly Nepalese couple as
they both undertake the free surgery supplied by the Seva Foundation in Open Your Eyes (trailer here), which premieres
this Monday on HBO.
Singh Gaha and Manisara Gaha have been legally blind for years, as a result of
the potent Himalayan sun. They can do little to help their families, except do
their best to mind their grandchildren, including the granddaughter they have
never seen. They are completely dependent on their family, in a country with
some especially cruel aphorisms regarding blindness. Yet, hope literally comes to
their doorstep, courtesy of a Seva canvass team. Determining their need and eligibility,
the volunteers arrange transit to the nearest city, where the Gahas will be two
of over fifty cases waiting the visiting surgeon.
many respects, OYE is like an extended
PSA for the Seva Foundation’s work, but it is good work, so there are worse
things to watch. Brodsky (who rather fittingly first made her filmmaking name
with Hear and Now, which documented
her deaf parents’ auditory implant surgery) captured a vivid sense of Nepal’s
countryside and how challenging the environment would be for the blind and the
aged. Unfortunately, Brodsky’s postscript informs viewers there were more
hardships in store for the Gahas, in the wake of the earthquake. Yet, we can
also imagine just how much harder the aftermath would have been for the couple
if they were still blind.
is a respectful and general compelling documentary. Clocking in just under
forty minutes, it is easily manageable. Salman Ahmad’s title song, performed by
Peter Gabriel gives the film further world cinematic cred. It is a very nice
film that has a conspicuously bittersweet tone, for reasons beyond Brodsky’s
control. Recommended for general audiences, Open
Your Eyes airs this Monday (7/18) on HBO.