Filmmakers in person!

Bengali visionary Amlan Ganguly, a hot-headed former attorney, works with children in the slums of Calcutta. But he doesn’t rescue them—he empowers them to become change agents, battling poverty and transforming their neighborhoods with dramatic results. Filmed over the course of three and a half years by multi-dimensional filmmakers Nicole Newnham and Maren Grainger-Monsen (Newnham is also a writer and Grainger-Monsen is also a physician), The Revolutionary Optimists follows Amlan and three of the children he works with on an intimate journey through adolescence, as they challenge the notion that marginalization is written into their destiny.

Twelve-year-old Kajal spends her days washing dishes, carrying bricks and caring for her ailing mother. Priyanka is abused at home and sees marriage to her young boyfriend as the only way out. Best friends Shika and Salim live in a neighborhood where everyone must walk two miles each morning just to get water from a neighboring slum.

Using theater, dance and data, these children and others have cut malaria rates and turned garbage dumps into playing fields. Now Amlan and the children have set their sights on goals that push at the limits of optimism: trying to bring clean water to a slum long denied it, and bringing education and hope to children long denied it.