SYML

FLAGS
Documentary-Music Video & Donations Campaign - 2020
Directed by Jorik Dozy
Flags tells the true story of Sapna, a 10-year-old girl living below the poverty line in North-West India suffering from blood cancer. Each week she takes an 8 hour overnight train journey in order to reach a hospital where treatment is affordable. 
 
This film was shot in January, 2020. On October 1st, 2020, Sapna passed away.

Director Jorik Dozy

"In his song Flags, SYML sings: ‘I was born to rage, born to fight’. Everyone who knew Sapna told us that she is a fighter, she will not give up, and this is something we witnessed many times during our stay with her. We hope that Sapna’s spirit gives people all over the world who are suffering from cancer the strength to keep fighting."

As Sapna leaves us we have the responsibility to make sure she is not forgotten. Her story teaches us how truly unfair life can be, how fragile it really is and how we all have to fight to improve everyone's life on this earth we share.
We can only hope that by sharing Sapna's story her memory lives on and we can continue to be inspired by her beautiful and strong fighting spirit. 

The Crisis

CANCER, the world’s 2nd leading cause of death, is alarmingly prevalent in the farming region of Malwa, India. The region has seen such a fast growing number of cancer patients that it is known as the Cancer Capital of India.

An average of 136 people per 100,000 suffer from the disease, exceeding the national average of 80 per 100,000.  Everyday, an average of 18 deaths happen in this region due to cancer.

Studies indicate excessive and unregulated use of pesticides on food crops as the leading cause. As a result, farmers and their families live in a cesspool of toxicity that also contaminates the water they drink and bathe in. 

Most of the people affected are living under the poverty line and can't access treatment near their homes. This causes around a hundred patients a day to take an 8 hour overnight train ride to the city of Bikaner to visit Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Treatment and Research Institute where cancer treatment is affordable.

Production

Rarely have we covered a topic and subject as heartbreaking and personal as this. Sapna was an incredible 10-year old girl. In the brief we spent with Sapna, we experienced a rich slice of her young life. No matter how sick she was, her strength was evermore visible as she fought through any obstacle in her path.

All of the scenarios and locations we found ourselves in were real, almost nothing was controllable and we therefore had to be in the right place at the right time. Filming in the hospital was a very intense experience. The hospital receives over one thousand patients a day and only has 17 doctors and not enough beds. The doctors do an incredible job to cope with such a huge volume of patients but many people end up having to travel back home right after receiving treatment since there is no room to stay overnight.

The overnight train, known as ‘The Cancer Train’ is a train for the underprivileged in India and due to overcrowding people will spend the journey wrapped in blankets, sleeping on the floor. I am sure our crew made the journey for many of the passengers quite a bit more entertaining than their usual commute. Whether we would be taping black paper on the train’s ceiling lights to control the lighting or be hanging out of the door of the moving train to get an exterior shot, many passengers would smile and point at us as we tried to get our shots. 

From the very start of this project we wanted to find a way to help the cancer patients of the Acharya Tulsi Regional Cancer Treatment and Research Institute. The hospital is one of the oldest and prime centres for cancer treatment in North West India. For many, it is fast becoming the only affordable option for the poor, who are often driven into debt while meeting their treatment expenses.


The hospital provides free and subsidised diagnosis, medicines and overnight stay at their facilities for underprivileged patients. However, many of the patients live below the poverty line and are in desperate need of help. This is where you come in!

Your donations will go directly to the hospital to improve their capacity to handle over a thousand patients a day, including improving their infrastructure for more space, better machines, better facilities, as well as more resources to sponsor the very underprivileged patients.

Please visit the link below to learn more and get involved:

 www.studiobirthplace.com/cancer-assistance

Amsterdam | Kuala Lumpur | Singapore
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