Andrew Gersh

Documentary Editor for the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond

The Revolutionary Optimists

Lawyer turned social advocate Amlan Ganguly doesn’t rescue children; he empowers them through education and activism to battle poverty and transform their lives and communities. The Revolutionary Optimists follows Amlan and the children he works with—Shika, Salim, Kajal and Priyanka—as they staunchly fight against the forces that oppress them. Utilizing theater and dance, and supported by Amlan’s own considerable charm and skills of persuasion, these young activists are campaigning for clean water and improved sanitary conditions in their communities and struggling to ensure that children laboring in the brick fields on the outskirts of Calcutta are receiving an education.

Shot over the course of three years, Maren Grainger-Monsen and Nicole Newnham’s film vividly captures the vibrancy of India while taking us on an intimate journey with these children, during which we witness not only the changes they are able to make in their neighborhood, but also the changes within each of them.

The Revolutionary Optimists proposes a workable solution to intractable problems associated with poverty, including preventable diseases and ineffectual governance. Ganguly’s story suggests that education and child empowerment are crucial keys to lifting entire societies out of hopelessness.

Produced and Directed by Nicole Newnham and Maren Grainger-Monsen. The film opens nationwide in March of 2013, screens at ITVS Community Cinema events across the country through the spring, and will have its television premiere on PBS’ Independent Lens June 17th at 10pm (check local listings). Read reviews in The Village Voice and The Hollywood Reporter. The film has been nominated for a 2014 News and Documentary Emmy® Award.

A short film based on The Revolutionary Optimists was shown worldwide as part of TEDxChange, presented by Melinda Gates and developed in partnership with the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.

Responses (2) to “The Revolutionary Optimists”

  1. […] Gersh is a 2011 Documentary Film Fellow as editor on the film The Revolutionary Optimists. Friday, December 30th, 2011 at 8:25 pm News Feed […]

  2. […] them through education and activism to battle poverty and transform their lives and communities. The Revolutionary Optimists follows Amlan and the children he works with—Shika, Salim, Kajal and Priyanka—as they staunchly […]