Despite the Gods (2012, Australia)

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Director: Penny Vozniak | 85 minutes | Australia | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) English, Hindi


” Welcome to India! Home of the world’s largest movie industry, where mere mortal film stars are worshiped with the same fervor as timeless Indian Gods; and the new buzzword ‘co-production’ looms on the lips of Indian financiers keen to form a Bollywood-Hollywood alliance.

In 2008, Hollywood’s prodigal daughter, Jennifer Lynch, travels to India to direct Hisss: a creature-feature film about the vengeful snake Goddess Nagin. But things go wrong very quickly. Perhaps there is a good reason why Hollywood and Bollywood have never blended like this before… The more they plan, the more the Gods laugh. The more they try to lock things down, the more they seem to shift; locations, cast, scripts are constantly rotated, re-invented and improvised depending on what the Indian day brings. A cyclone, strikes and superstitious crew don’t do much to help. All differences, apparent and invisible, personal and professional are brought to the surface.

With uncensored candour, Lynch can only cheerlead and watch with part hope, part despair as her beloved Hisss strays further and further away from her original vision.  Surrounded by a team of truly wonderful Indian crew, her twelve-year-old daughter, and a cast of Bollywood stars, she does her best to stay sane and guide the production through a minefield of disasters.

Lynch is well known for making bold, if not ill-fated, choices in her filmmaking career. But nothing could prepare her for the unmapped territory of Bollywood-Hollywood movie making, where chaos is the process and filmmaking doubles as a crash course in acceptance and self-realization. Despite the Gods tells the untold tale of Jennifer Lynch’s Bollywood odyssey.” (Film official website)

“An overly ambitious Bollywood/Hollywood production about a man-eating snake goddess becomes an exercise in self-actualization rather than effective filmmaking. An unforgiving behind-the-scenes look at Jennifer Lynch’s disastrous return to filmmaking after a 15-year hiatus. Jennifer Lynch, daughter of cult film auteur David Lynch, made her auspicious directorial debut in 1993 with Boxing Helena at the Sundance Film Festival. A box office disaster, the film was viciously mauled by critics and became the focus of multiple lawsuits. Fifteen years later, a recovering addict and hard-working single mother, Lynch returns to the director’s chair with an ambitious project that will test her skills and the entire crew’s sanity. Despite the Gods brings us behind the scenes on the set of Lynch’s Bollywood/Hollywood action film about a man-eating snake goddess. Out of her depth shooting on location with an Indian crew and two top Bollywood stars, Lynch turns her production into a vehicle for her own self-actualization, paying no regard to timeline, budget or reality. As the story in front of the camera derails, the story behind the camera explodes.” Lynne Crocker (Hot Docs 12)


Director: Penny Vozniak
Producer: Karina Astrup
Editor: Melanie Annan
Cinematographer: Penny Vozniak
Original Music: Jessica Chapnik-Kahn and Nadav Kahn
Sound Designer: Nathan Johnson
Colourist: Tamara Seeck
Online Editor: Nick King

Featuring Jennifer Lynch, Sydney Lynch, Mallika Sherawat, Govind Menon, Vikram Singh …. and the entire cast and crew of Hisss 



Film official website:

Video trailer on Vimeo

Film page on facebook


Director’s website:

International sales: CAT & Docs.
Ph:+33 1 44 59 63 53

Marketing, publicity and general enquiries: House of Gary.


HotDocs March 2012 (selection World Showcase section, World Premiere) Film page


. “Simply a wonderful film for any fans of filmmaking and one of my personal favorites of the festival so far.”  


. Brand New One-Sheet for Penny Vozniak’s Hisss Documentary Despite the Gods (2/04/12)


. Penny Vozniak (Australia): “very personal stories are actually the stories of the whole world” (28/04/2012)

. Hot Docs 2012 selects 20 films from or about Asia Pacific (21/03/2012)

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