It was not the natural curiosity of a teenager that persuaded Gilbert George to document the aftermath of the flood, the most devastating one in the history of Kerala. He thought it was very important to have a record of the pathetic situation that the inhabitants of flood-affected areas were going through, as it might be of at least some use in the future. Thus, he started working on the documentary The Phoenix State. He elaborates, “I was getting a strong feeling that the flood must be documented as it was for the first time that the people of Kerala were witnessing a natural calamity of that magnitude and documenting the events might be useful in future while designing precautionary methods.
Even though I wanted to make the documentary during the floods, I gave priority to taking part in the relief operations. Once the flood subsided, I thought of travelling across the state in order to film the post-flood situation. But, lack of contact in every district was one of the major issues I faced. I, therefore,sought help from Cinema Paradiso Club (CPC) and to my surprise, they were more than happy to help me. I travelled to every district except Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur to shoot.”
Gilbert was accompanied by his friend Delbin Benny, who is also the associate cinematographer of The Phoenix State. It was through CPC that he received help to produce the documentary as well. Explaining more about the content, Gilbert says, “We started it as a small 15-minute documentary, but delving more into the details made us aware of many unknown facts. We, therefore, came to a conclusion that it should have every detail about the flood and should be made in English so that the international audiences, too, will get a complete picture of one of the most destructive calamities of all times. We are lucky that ace technicians of Mollywood have extended their helping hand in making Gilbert’s dream a success.”
The 40-minute long documentary, provides a detailed view of the situation of the state after the floods. In addition to this, various interviews with the district collectors and interaction with the professors from IIT Madras, who have published a detailed study on the reasons behind the flood and various precautions that can be taken, also form a major part. Gilbert expects to release The Phoenix State by February....