Actress Merryl Streep has thrown her star power behind a documentary that chronicles the rape and violent death of a young student on a bus in New Delhi. The Oscar-winning actress says the powerful, hour-long documentary, India’s Daughter, deserves to win an Academy Award. Nominees for the 88th Academy Awards are to be announced January 14.
“I’m on the campaign now to get her nominated for best documentary,” said Streep, speaking of the film’s British-based director, Leslee Udwin.
“When I first saw [the film] I couldn’t speak afterwards.”
The film was set to broadcast in India on International Women’s Day but was banned by Indian authorities as an affront against women.
In a statement, the government warned that certain excerpts “appear to encourage and incite violence against women”.
Jyoti Singh, 23, was raped on a moving bus in India’s capital on her way home from seeing Life of Pi at the cinema with a male friend in December 2012.
Singh died 15 days later of internal injuries, her death sparking protests and unrest by Indian students who claimed the crime symbolised the worst elements of a society that treated women as second-class citizens.
The film draws on extensive footage of an interview in jail with one of the attackers, Mukesh Singh, who blamed the victim for being out in the evening with a male friend.
“A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night,” he says. “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.”
Singh and three other convicted assailants are on death row waiting the outcome of court appeals.
Udwin said she had found hope in the outpouring of support following Singh’s rape but was dismayed at the timid outcry after a 4-year-old girl was raped and beaten with stones in New Delhi earlier this month.
“Why are people not out on the streets now?” she said.
The movie was screened on the ABC in April. It will open in US theatres on October 23. Screenings are also scheduled in a handful of countries from Iceland to China.