Off the Grid
Researchers from Durham’s Geography Department have been collaborating with film company Soul Rebel Films to produce a documentary of life on the Bangladeshi Island of Sandwip with the arrival of solar powered electricity and lighting entitled ‘Off the Grid’ (dir Meghna Gupta)
The small, impoverished community on the island is sustained by remittances from those who have migrated to cities and to work on ships across the globe. Now with this money some residents are installing solar power to bring light after dark. The film shows what happens when electricity moves from being generated by expensive diesel generators to renewable solar power. The film tells the story of the effects of this on especially the women and the connection through to opening new experiences by powering other digital media. It also tells the limits of the new lighting in addressing the structural marginalisation of the community and women within it. Illustrating how darkness closes around them in the Bay of Bengal with only four hours stored electricity, the film is beautifully shot and accompanied by the haunting vocals of Sohini Alam.
Based around fieldwork by Durham researcher Raihana Ferdous the film offers an insight into the potent appeal of electricity for lighting in remote and poor places. It also shows how solar power seems to offer a clean and green solution to meeting that demand – and yet then has limits in what it can deliver. She and the director of the film discuss its making here: