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I juggle with lifestyles, languages, customs and environment like I naturally breathe in – Linda Ainouche

Dreadlock Story Linda Ainouche_stagephod

Linda Ainouche has made a documentary – Dreadlocks Story, which explores the spiritual links between Indian Sadhus and Jamaican Rastas. The documentary was filmed in India, Jamaica, the USA and France, with four local crews. Read on to know more about Linda and her documentary.

Tell us about your life journey in brief?

I am a Documentary Filmmaker, Producer, and Anthropologist Researcher living in New York City. I was born in France and have spent my life studying, working, and traveling around the world, even in India where I did my Ph.D on Jainism. I did share the lives of a Swetambar sangha. I’m enthusiastic about adventurous fieldwork and I love immersing myself in misunderstood and indigenous communities all over the world. I also truly enjoy synthesizing my background in research with my passion of documentary.

Although my writing has been widely published in English and French, I have always thought that the best way to deeply appreciate and closely exhibit the complexities of behaviors, loves and emotions would be penetrated reality through image. Academic ethnographic description not only attempts to freeze the situation described, but if those situations are about adversity, as they are most of the time, it is by leaving the participants to express themselves that we can discover a means of escape.

After almost twenty years working in public, academic, and governmental sectors, I founded my production company, Look At My Productions in New York to follow my creativity in documentaries about the fascinating topics I studied as an Anthropologist, and continue that journey to this day.


What prompted you to become a filmmaker?

As an Anthropologist and avid traveller, I’ve always been passionate about cross cultural exploration and the opportunity to engage myself into something new.What most excited me about film making is that it’s an intimate medium that allows me to give audience members the feeling of being connected into cultures they may not have known much about. There are a lot of misconceptions about certain outcast and indigenous communities. Consequently, I am truly convinced that documentary is the best medium to convey the complexities of human behaviors in an intimate way because the ethnographer and subjects can be put on equal footing. I can access to a ‘free’ style mix of improvisation, reality, subjectivity and technique that no other medium provides me.

In other words, as documentary allows me to ‘shoot’ the reality as it is, that provides the unique opportunity to break down barriers and allows for a direct connection with people in their environment, I have decided to become a filmmaker.

Tell us about your team, if you have?

Dreadlocks Story was filmed across four countries (India, Jamaica, France and the USA) in four languages (Hindi, Jamaican Patois, French and English), thus I had the opportunity to work with a new local crew in every location. This made for a uniquely global production experience, and it was an incredible learning experience for me as a director. And, as I utterly love collaborating with talent partners on many levels, this is a compelling expedient that sharpens my flexibility in a way that I have never experimented before in any other ethnographic projects.


How many/ What kind of movies you have made?

This past year, I completed Dreadlocks Story, my first feature, about the hidden spiritual connection between Jamaican Rastas and Indian Sadhus. This allowed me to use my experience as an Anthropologist and teach audiences about several topics as such the symbolic power of dreadlocks as a form of self­ expression, the cross­cultural result under a colonial system, History of Jamaica and History of India, how behaviors can be tellingly perceived, etc. There is no narration. A voice­over would have made the film feel distant, creating an us versus them that is ultimately counter­productive of my idea of what ethnography and documentary can transmit, although it is really challenging to tell a story with several people speaking in different languages. Dreadlocks Story aims to shed light on the diverse multi­cultural influences that together created something beautiful, and a voice­over would assert the perceived distance between Rastas and Sadhus and other cultures.So, Dreadlocks Story is currently being screened around the world and has been featured on news outlets globally. I am also about to finish a new documentary for the end of the year. Obviously, I am always thinking of new projects, but it is still too early to tell which ones I will mature into full fledged films. And, who knows which new subjects I will discover each and every day? To be sure, my work will be in all likelihood focused on what I am most passionate about, namely exploring unknown topics.

What is your dream/ vision?

My hope for my films is that they spread an understanding of world cultures and an array of multi­cultural influences that converge to create something new. So far, audiences around the world have all reacted very positively to Dreadlocks Story. It does address Britain’s colonial past but the film is conscious of criticizing the system of colonialism rather than any nation specifically. In conversations about oppression, our rhetoric should reflect the belief that colonialism is an immoral system that is an atrocity and harmful for all.

Dreadlock Story_Linda_Ainouche_stagephod

What difficulties do you face as a filmmaker?

My only difficulty is with funding but it goes with the work! As I knew it before jumping into the industry, I haven’t face any difficulties, this is rather a not surprising reality…

What inspires you or keeps you going?

I’m constantly inspired by the remarkable people I’ve met in my travels and what I come across. My love of adventure drive me to always seek to explore and understand different cultures then educate on them. Because I am permanently among various cultures, I juggle with lifestyles, languages, customs and environment like I naturally breathe in!


What advice you’d like to give to someone who is interested/a newbie in filmmaking?

I would just say: go for it!

Anything else you’d like to share?

The making of Dreadlocks Story was an incredibly rewarding and collaborative global effort. I’m thankful for the opportunity to travel and work with local film crews from India, Jamaica, France and the USA. Working with different crew, I know, will greatly influence my creative process in future projects. There is nothing more interesting to me than the sharing of ideas andskills to express a shared goal. I’d like to thank the incredible group of experts, Rastas, and Sadhus who took part in the film, and allowed me to interview them. I am again grateful to have accessed the music and photos in the film, created by legendary artists.

This is really not my style to wallow in self­ pity so I have no regret of what I could not have accomplished and who I wish I could have interviewed. Since the decades I am working on the field with people, this taught me to work with what I am able to obtain and put together. This is more stimulating! Thus, I am very happy with the final product regardless. We can always do better and more or do nothing… Lastly, I’d also like to encourage your readers to follow Dreadlocks Story on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Flipboard, and Vimeo.


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