Sister Cyril (Principal Loreto Sealdah Day School)
At 20 years old Cyril Mooney left her native Ireland for India, determined to stay for life as a Sister of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto). She has been in India since 1956, and was principal of the Loreto Sealdah Day School for 32 years.There she opened the doors of this elite school for upper class girls to include street children and both urban and rural poor.  Despite the doubts of many, her system of inclusive education for all was revolutionary and extremely effective. The government of India decided to fund 600 schools to replicate her Rainbow street children program, which has now been replicated throughout India.

Audun (co-director/ director of photography) is a graduate of FAMU film school in Prague, and first met Sister Cyril in India in January 2003. Sister suggested Audun document the Rainbow project for girl street children, and he made the short documentary “Over the Rainbow” (2003, 15 min), which played  an important role for the Partnership Foundation – an Dutch NGO who began to support Rainbow projects all over India. In 2005, Audun went back to Loreto together with film maker Helga Sulen Sund from Norway and made a follow up-film; “The Rainbow Project” (2005, 12 min). also in cooperation with Partnership Foundation, which used the film for fundraisingJenne (producer/ co-director) was working in international development, which took her to Kolkata in 2004, where she met Sister Cyril via Audun. She was overwhelmed by the efficacy of the innovative community-based projects that were being run out of the school, and extremely inspired by Sister Cyril, her pedagogy and approach. Jenne and Sister met several times over the next three years, and spoke about documenting the programs and the approach of the school, and ways in which her approach could be shared with other school systems around the world. Jenne and Audun set about making the film, to document the extraordinary effect of Sister’s philosophy in action. Linda (co-director/ editor) was studying filmmaking in New York, and was recommended to Jenne as a potential camera operator and partner for the project. Jenne flew to NY to meet with Linda, introduce her to the history of the school and topic, the plan for the film, as well as the larger vision of helping others around the world gain access to  Sister Cyril’s approach. Linda wrote a grant to support her work on the film as a part of the Three Women: One World project which Jenne proposed, in which “Sit Beside Me” would be one film. Linda accompanied Audun to Kolkata in the summer of 2007, where they filmed new material to be added to the previous footage Audun had gathered at the school over the previous 5 years.. 

After a long collaborative editing process the film eventually was able to include footage from over a decade shot at Loreto Sealdah, much of it featuring the same students throughout those years, Sit Beside Me (Pravaha, 2012, 53 min) premiered in Prague, with Sr Cyril in attendance. 
Sister Cyril led her first two workshops, training teachers in her value-based education approach and methodology through Pramení ops. The film has been screened at festivals and often in education-related venues.

Currently

Audun runs COAXFILM,  https://www.coaxfilm.no and continues to partner in Pravaha film projects via Prameni ops with Jenne. Jenne directs Pramení ops, and together with Audun has produced the feature documentary film “Europe: Which Children Matter?”, a video-based teacher training webinar “What Kind of Schools Do We Want?” and other education-related projects. Linda partnered on the first workshops with Sister Cyril in Prague, hosted by Pramení ops, and went on to continue training teachers in the Czech Republic in Sister Cyril’s methodology by founding the organization Value-based education of Cyril Mooney https://hvcm.cz. Sister Cyril’s Rainbow project continues as a government program throughout India. Her other projects went on to continue as various independent NGO projects. Sister is retired, living her late years  among and in the care of the nuns at Loreto Entally in Kolkata. 

It will soon be 10 years since Sit Beside me was released. Jenne and Audun are currently working on a follow up film called “Walk Beside Me”, in collaboration with some of the educators and team who worked for Sr Cyril when Sit Beside Me was made, as well as some of the girls featured in Sit Beside Me. Estimated release of “Walk Beside Me” is 2022.

Pravaha makes films about exceptional catalysts who are leading revolutions in education, social justice and earth stewardship.  Our goal is to bring their stories to a wider public, as a tool to assist them in empowering others to transform their lives and societies. Pravaha catalysts are living proof that when we start from the heart, an engaged and inspired mind follows. It is from this integrated place that solutions arise to meet some of the most profound dilemmas of our day. Pravaha is a project of Pramení ops, based in the Czech Republic.

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