University of Rhode Island sophomore Shawn Antoine II is set to release his new, eye-opening documentary, “Days in Delhi,” this coming Monday, April 25.
Antoine, an Economics and Public Relations double major, is a relative newcomer to the world of film. “Days in Delhi,” his second documentary, chronicles his time spent in India during a faculty-led trip that took place over URI’s “J Term.” The students on the trip visited many historical and culturally significant sites around India, as well as manufacturing and textile plants. Antoine recorded many things and took many photographs while there, initially just to keep memories of his trip.
“I did this trip as an opportunity to travel the world,” Antoine said. “Recording it was just a way to capture the memories, in a sense. There are so many people I know who won’t get the opportunity to travel, so recording the things I saw was a way for me to share it with them. Everyone asked me so many questions about the trip, and I couldn’t really answer them, so I figured I could make this film to show people instead.”
The film depicts many topics such as poverty, pollution and religion, and is very minimal in narration, allowing the viewer to process the images themselves. While there, Antoine and the other students received much attention from locals, who rarely see tourists in their areas. Some of the people Antoine encountered had never seen a camera or a picture of themselves before.
“We definitely stood out while we were there, especially by the garments we were wearing,” Antoine said. “Some of them had never seen tourists, but they were overwhelmingly friendly; they just wanted to be around us. Almost everyone I met wanted to be in the film; I had over 800 clips of people I encountered. They all wanted to be recorded and see themselves on camera.”
“Days” follows Antoine through many different parts of India, such as the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Galtaji Temple in Jaipur, which is colloquially referred to as the “Monkey Temple,” due to the large number of primates that live in and roam the temple. While in Jaipur, the group visited the Nahargarh Fort, which overlooks much of the city below for miles around.
“You could hear people praying from down below,” Antoine said. “As the sun was setting, around 6 p.m., you could hear prayer from all around the city while we were at the top of the fort. It was unreal.”
Antoine and the rest of the students were led by faculty professors Manbir Sodhi and Meg Decubellis, both of whom make appearances in the film. Sodhi is an engineering professor who frequently travels to India to do engineering work. Decubellis is involved with the Textiles program here as well as at the Rhode Island School of Design. These professors accompanied the students on their journey around India, and to the factories that they visited, which were a main part of the trip.
The documentary captures a significant amount, while only being about 30 minutes long. Antoine’s approach, especially given that the video was not recorded with the intention of becoming a documentary, shows a talent and eye for film. His interviews throughout the film are insightful and help drive a cohesive story, paired with solid cinematography. The film will be featured at an event this Friday, April 22, at the Rhode Island School of Design.
“Days in Delhi” will be released on April 25, and will be available on Antoine’s YouTube page, “Perspexsion Studios.” There, you can also find Antoine’s first film “The Movement,” which chronicles a Black Lives Matter rally in New York that he attended.