October 30, 2007
Harsh Beauty

Watch the show: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Making Harsh Beauty was a challenge from the very first moment I set my foot in India.

Although my films have taken me to a few corners in the world, my time in India was a life changing experience like no other.

It all started as a visit to a Eunuch festival in a town called Kovagam. I heard about this celebration and I wanted to make a short film not even really knowing what a Eunuch is or what it means to be born in the wrong body.

What was supposed to be a three-week trip became almost a two-year journey.

The hardest part in making this film was to gain access to the community, often misunderstood and ostracised in general. The community I met in Mumbai was weary of white women pointing cameras at them, so for the first few weeks I would just spend time with them, preparing food, going shopping, drinking whisky late at night and singing songs to the moon.

My translator and I spent time just sharing daily life with them, building trust. Once the novelty of "the foreigner" wore off, I started to bring my camera around.

Soon two characters began to emerge, Usha and Jothy, and the story took a life of itself. It went beyond stereotypes. Often Eunuchs in India are marginalized and work in the sex trade, entertainment or they give blessings to newlyweds and newborns believing Eunuchs will bring good omen to their marriage or to their child.

After a year, I heard about Hira Bai, an elected politician who was respected and loved in her community, and she became the third character in the film.

Finally I would like to say that the more I got involved with them, the more I realize that gender identity is like an ocean in which we are only drops of water.

From Alessandra Zeka, Director
October 28, 2007
Costa del Con

Watch the program: Part 1 | Part 2

I thought they might have reached saturation point on the Costa del Sol by now -- after all, they've been at it for years.

In 1986 I was here as a tourist and even then was struck by the overwhelming concentration of concrete; of the endless apartment blocks rising up from the skinniest beaches, the water almost lapping the foundations.

You know the scene in the movie Planet of the Apes? Where the top of the Statue of Liberty's sticking out the sand? That's how I imagine generations to come will finally uncover the story of the Costa del Sol -- and the Costa del Con that went with it.

This stretch of the Spanish Mediterranean coast has already spawned a thousand parodies from Monty Python's travel sketch to the Fast Show's weather forecast -- where everyday was "scorchio."

A land of territorial German beach towels, baking Brits and Swedes so sun-struck they look like blushing lobsters.

This blessed strip of all day English breakfasts and mini-Munichs with an eternal Oktoberfest.

But the place has changed dramatically since I first saw it 2 decades ago -- it's much, much bigger.

Less will never be more on the Costa del Sol. In fact, more can never be enough.

There's really serious money here now, some of it Russian, so little places that were once fishing ports now hold giant motorboats the size of small villages.

And when the owners and their guests step ashore they can do that essential holiday shopping, like buying a mink coat or a very, very, very expensive diamond.

Twenty-one years ago, I felt like the token Australian on the beach -- I probably was
-- after all, we don't really rate the Costa del Sol beaches -- they're not big enough for us -- call this a beach? Hell, I can count the grains of sand.

Now I feel dwarfed by the sheer change to the landscape.

It feels like half of Europe's decided to move south, spreading back up the hills in huge apartment blocks, sorry, villas, yes villas because they sound much more luxurious, don't they?

Life as one long holiday.

My God, what a place.

From Chris Clark, Correspondent, ABC Australia
World’s Untold Stories showcases courageous correspondents telling intimate stories of society's most vulnerable people. Often gritty, always powerful tales that open our eyes to a world that is at times disturbing and captivating. Storytelling that is raw and unyielding in its impact. World’s Untold Stories will bring the viewer tales from all corners of the world, and shine light on activities almost never exposed.

Schedule and description

Tuesday 830am 130pm

Thursday 830am 130pm

Saturday 830am 1230pm 1030pm

Sunday 130am 630pm
    What's this?
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.