Recent and Upcoming Film Screenings:
Recent and Upcoming Film Screenings:
Oh That’s Bhanu
A film by R V Ramani
27 February 2020 | 6:30 pm
Bhanumathi Rao, in her younger days, was a dancer and a theatre actor. Today in her mid-nineties, she lives with her two daughters – Maya Krishna Rao, a contemporary solo theatre practitioner based in Delhi and Tara Rao, who works as a human rights campaigner in Bengaluru. Bhanumathi, an elegant and witty woman, whose hearing and memory doesn’t usually stand up, has led an enigmatic, passionate, yet a simple and pragmatic life. Filming Bhanumathi in Delhi and Bengaluru, with her daughters nudging her, the filmmaker takes the audience on a journey of life and performance, through the spasms of memory, complexities of relationships, love and a reflection of what could constitute a beautiful mind.
R V.Ramani, born in Mumbai, 1957, graduated in Physics from Mumbai University. He worked as a photojournalist in Mumbai and later graduated from the Film and TV Institute of India, Pune, in 1985, with specialization in Motion Picture Photography. Today he is one of the leading documentary filmmakers in India, who has established a unique style of his own, making independent impressionistic documentaries, which has found recognition both in India and abroad. He has traveled widely with his films and his films and Retrospectives have been presented in many International Film Festivals. He regularly conducts filmmaking workshops at many Institutions and is a Visiting Professor at the Ambedkar University Delhi. Presently he lives in Chennai and Delhi, working on many feature documentaries.
Past Film Screenings:
A film by Nirmal Chander Dandriyal
28 January 2020 | 6:30 pm
Annapurna Devi’s genius has become part of legend in the world of Hindustani classical music.
Allauddin Khan who founded the Maihar-Senia gharana, she was an unparalleled guru and one of the greatest exponents of the plucked string instrument, the surbahar.
In a world where artistes are increasingly seeking instant recognition,
To understand her life and the decisions she took, we must divest ourselves of all our pre-conceived notions about the lives of famous artistes… and only then may we follow her journey down a road not often travelled.
NIRMAL CHANDER DANDRIYAL is a multiple National Award winning filmmaker who has been working in the field of documentaries for the last 20 years. He started his career as an editor. The films edited by him have travelled to many international festivals and have received awards. Some of his films include Dreaming Taj Mahal (2010), Sab Lila Hai (2011), We, The Change (2012) and Moti Bagh (2019).
He also worked for four years in Dubai as Senior Promo Producer/ Editor for Ten Sports channel where he handled the promotion of major sporting events like Tour de France, Grand Slam Tennis Championships and various cricket, football and hockey series. He has conducted workshops on documentary filmmaking and has also served on juries at film festivals.
A film by Uma Chakravarti
20 December 2019 | 6:30 pm
Prison Diaries tells the story of the unexpected imprisonment of a number of women during the Emergency through the life of the Socialist Snehalata Reddy, a famous actress, who lived in Bangalore and went to jail on account of her resistance to the Emergency. She spent 8 months in jail, virtually in solitary confinement as she was the only woman political prisoner in the jail. Released for a few weeks on parole she died of a heart attack just before she was to return to jail in January 1977. While she was in jail she kept a diary in which she recorded her terrible ordeal as a prisoner with no recourse to legal remedies or medical remedy as she was asthmatic and did not have recourse to proper treatment while in prison.
Snehalata’s story is told in this film through her children and close friends who recall her traumatic days in prison in the film, her spirit of resistance her concern for other women prisoners in jail whose conditions she tried to improve. The film has been shot on location in Bangalore including the premises of the old premises of the jail where Snehalata was incarcerated and which has now been renamed Freedom Park erasing the dark history of the jailing of large numbers of political prisoners between 1975 and 1977.
After she died extracts from her diary were published under the title “A Prison Diary”which has been used extensively in the making of this film.
It has also used the family archive of photographs and extracts from Snehalata’s earlier films. Music from the compositions of Snehalata’s son Konarak Reddy who is now a well known musician provide the background music in the film.
Uma Chakravarti taught history to many generations of women students at Miranda House, University of Delhi. During those years, she was involved in film appreciation sessions and she also curated a festival of films made by students from Miranda House.
She has published books on Buddhism, Caste and Gender and on contemporary feminist issues. She has also been associated with the women’s movement and the movement for democratic rights and has co-authored Delhi Riots: Three days in the Life of a Nation.
Uma Chakravarti is a feminist historian who has been making films since 2010. Her films relate to history, memory and the archive. Her first film A QUIET LITTLE ENTRY (2010) explored women’s unlived lives during the national movement; her second film FRAGMENTS OF A PAST (2012) dwelt on a political activist who does not now remember her own past, and her third film EK INQUILAB AUR AAYA: LUCKNOW 1920-1949 excavates memories to dwell on two women from Firanghi Mahal, a centre for rationalist Islamic learning in Lucknow, Sughra Fatema a poetess and her niece Khadija Ansari a student activist went to jail in 1949. Through their lives we see a moment of possibility for Muslim women at a time of great change. PRISON DIARIES is her fourth film and is based on the incarceration of Snehalata Reddy and on the diary she wrote during her time in jail. Her time in jail is recovered also through her children and her close friends.
To register for the film screening, click here.
A film by Saumyananda Sahi
26 November 2019 | 6:30 pm
Ever since the Salaulim Dam submerged the Kurdi census town in South Goa over three decades ago, 550 families have had to relocate and forge new lives elsewhere.
However, every year the waters recede and the ruins resurface for a few short weeks before the rains. During this time, past inhabitants return to what is left of their homes, to perform rituals, have picnics and remember their dead.
Gurucharan Kurdikar has vivid memories of his childhood in Kurdi – but now lives in a city far away. Venisha Fernandes was born after the submergence, but has grown up listening to stories of a lost paradise. Both return to search for where they belong – in places imagined and places real.
As Gurucharan and Venisha converse with a whole array of people, different aspects of the landscape and prior societal inter-relationships begin to emerge. The harsh memories of caste and feudal injustice are discussed with as much curiosity and fervor as personal stories of loss and longing. Yet while each community – be they Hindu, Christian, Muslim or the Gaonkar tribe – all tell of fractured histories, they share the fact of submergence just the same.
As Venisha and Guru join the members of each community to traverse the arid landscape into the depths of the Salaulim reservoir, they witness how gestures can bring to life trees and houses and rivers that are no more. They witness how the very act of remembering can also be an act of becoming part of the land.
Born in Bangalore, Karnataka, in 1986, Saumyananda Sahi was the youngest participant in the Talent Campus India (2004), and the Berlinale Talent Campus at the Berlin International Film Festival (2005).
Over the last ten years Saumyananda has worked on both documentaries as well as fiction features with filmmakers such as Thomas F. Lennon, Kamal Swaroop, Arun Karthick, Anamika Huksar and Anne Aghion. His work has been screened in Film Festivals around the world, including at Sundance, Rotterdam, Locarno, Hot Docs and IDFA.
While for the most part working as a cinematographer, Saumyananda has directed two documentaries, and has been credited as an editor as well as art director. He has been nominated for the 2018 Asia Pacific Screen Award for Achievement in Cinematography for the film ‘Balekempa’, received a Special Jury Mention for Cinematography on the film ‘Taking the Horse to Eat Jalebis’ directed by Anamika Haksar, International Film Festival of Kerala 2019 MIFF 2014 National Award for Best Cinematography (Long Documentary) for the film ‘Have You Seen the Arana?’ directed by Sunanda Bhat Saumyananda graduated from St. Stephens College, Delhi, with a distinction in Philosophy, and studied Film Cinematography in the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. He founded Skreen Films with his wife, Tanusree Das. He is currently based in Goa, India.
The Outside In
A film by Hansa Thapliyal
28 October 2019 | 6:30 pm
What is art, in our lives? What is home? Can practising art, sharing it, give us a possibility of sharing home in the world?
Two dollmakers work in very different ways, with the human form .They choose to work with very simple, sometimes discarded materials. The work gently prises open resistances we have, to empathizing with those facing harsh realities around us. The work playfully loosens up knots of shame and fear. It lets in a more wholesome look at life and suggests a hopefulness and a desire for a more integrated, empathetic world.
Francoise Bosteels has worked as a nurse. Milan Khanolkar trained as an artist. What is it about making and sharing dolls that has meant so much to each? What new paths have the dolls made and cleared? What ambiguities have they been able to express?
The film seeks to collaborate with the dollmakers and the dolls, listening to them, playing and animating with them, making with the materials of the dollmakers worlds. Participating in loosening the boundaries between what lies outside of us and in.
Hansa Thapliyal, 47, is a film maker, writer and artist, whose works have tried to move between different ways of telling stories.
She is an alumni of the Film and Television Insitute of India. Her diploma film, jee Karta Tha, travelled to festivals in India and abroad and is also features in the 2 dvd set from FTII, called Master Strokes, featuring a collection of special student works from across the years. She has worked with needlework and photographs, and her work on Srinagar called His City, collaborating with a photographer from Sringar, is housed in the permanent collection of the Accademia dei Visionari at ALT in Bergamo, Italy. Her writings have been published by a small experimental press in Australia, called StartPress, as a booklet called A Shelter called Writing.
She has worked extensively on the early history of Indian cinema in Kamal Swaroop’s Phalke Project and has been co writer on Tracing Phalke, published by NFDC.
She teaches film and sometimes, textiles, at film and design schools and also works with everyday materials to conduct workshops for Agents of Ishq and Point of View, enabling young people to talk of their lives and their sexualities.
In this film, The Outside In, she has tried to further her interest in what art can mean to us in our everyday lives.
To register for the film screening, click here.
One Mustard Seed
A film by Aparna Sanyal
21 August 2019 | 6:30 pm
Why do we have such a contentious relationship with the idea of dying? What keeps us from looking at death, or the dying, in the eye; from making peace with the process?
The film wonders if the process of dying can become meaningful; and if embracing our own mortality might be the key to a more fulfilling life.
Aparna Sanyal is a National Award winning filmmaker who has worked extensively on documentaries and TV shows as director and producer for both Indian and international television since 1999. She was awarded the Rajat Kamal at the National Film Awards in 2012, the Charles Wallace India Trust grant for research in the UK in 2015 and recognised as a Young Creative Entrepreneur by the British Council in 2010. She is the co-founder of ‘The Red Door’, an initiative on Mental Health.
Her previous films include ‘Tedhi Lakeer – The Crooked Line’ (2002), ‘A Drop of Sunshine’ (2011), ‘A Land, Strangely Familiar’ (2013), ‘Shunyata – when Kathak met Cham’ (2014), Shovana (2017), and The Monks who won the Grammy (2018).
If She Built a County
A film by Maheen Mirza
19 July 2019 | 6:30 pm
Beyond the asphalt highway flanked by billboards with larger than life images of Jindal’s boyish face, a blanket of black dust covers the paddy fields and homes of the villages of Raigarh. “You see the black dust that settles on our roofs?” asks one of the many women cheated of her land and livelihood in the interests of mining capital. “When it rains, the dust cakes between the tiles, and never leaves. That’s exactly what’s happening in our lungs too.”
For over a decade now, private and public mining corporations have been encroaching upon and digging up the coal-rich forested lands of North Chhattisgarh – sometimes by blatantly violating the law and at other times by circumventing it, but always, at the cost of lives of the most marginal of peoples. They have displaced whole villages, polluted the lungs and bodies of whole populations and dispossessed whole generations from what is rightfully theirs, all the while making profits from the sale of coal. The true costs of production, however, have been borne by those who have both laboured for and resisted against the process of extraction – the women at the forefront of the struggle, into whose everyday lives the violence of this extraction is folded.
Walking behind them, through the coal mines that have ravaged their lands and lie now like open wounds, the film follows the stories of the brave adivasi women of Raigarh, as they struggle not only to save their lands and livelihoods, seeking justice for themselves, their communities and the generations to come after them, but also, as they reimagine a future for us all, asking one of the most brutally honest and pertinent questions of our times – what does development really mean?
Maheen Mirza is a cinematographer committed to cinema that is born of collective practice. She has worked with several organisations and peoples’ movements on socio-political and educational issues, and has made fiction and documentary films across the country. Her work strives to challenge the grammar of commercial cinema and serves to nurture a culture of independent filmmaking. She is a part of ektara collective, a strong proponent of the independent cinema movement that seeks to build inclusive and collective cultural spaces. She has been a part of the scripting and cinematography of Jaadui Machchi (2013) and Turup (2017) among others.
To register for the film screening, click here.
A film by Priya Thuvassery
25 June 2019 | 6:30 pm
Uma Mani (the protagonist) will be present for a post screening discussion.
This will be a filmmaker’s journey with Uma, a certified scuba diver, exploring the underwater world and the threat to coral reefs of Gulf of Mannar, India. Born in a traditional family in Tamil Nadu 53 years old Uma, a homemaker, has been trying to bring attention to this alarming environmental issue through her paintings. It is, in fact, these corals that inspired Uma to learn how to swim, dive and paint in her 50s.
Priya Thuvassery is an independent filmmaker and television producer from Kerala, based in New Delhi, India. She has had the experience of directing, producing and editing documentary films & television programmes for New Delhi Television, Fox Traveler, National Human Rights Commission of India, Films Division of India, Public Service Broadcasting Trust & Khabar Lahariya.
She has fundraised, directed and edited several documentaries – Khanabadosh, My Sacred Glass Bowl and Survey Number zero. Her films have been recognised with participation, mentions and best film awards in many international and national film festivals. Coral Woman is her first feature length documentary film.
She is an alumnus of the AJK Mass Communication Research Center, Jamia Millia Islamia—one of India’s premier institutes in film and video training.
Uma Mani is a painter and a PADI certified scuba diver. Her paintings are inspired by the underwater life forms and she uses her art to spread awareness about the alarming underwater environmental issue of the Coral reefs. She has held eight solo painting exhibitions so far : six painting exhibitions in the Maldives and two exhibitions in New Delhi and the theme of her paintings has always been coral reefs and hence the painting exhibitions are named “Coral reef gardens”. She became a certified Scuba Diver at the age of 49 just to see the coral reefs for real and paint them on canvas.
Tales from our childhood
A film by Mukul Haloi
28 May 2019 | 6:30 pm
The filmmaker’s childhood friend dons a borrowed uniform and poses as a ULFA rebel. Another friend opens an old diary. Some other friends rehearse a play from the filmmaker’s childhood days. A poem by a ULFA rebel is recited. The film embarks on a journey to revive the memory of growing up in Assam in the 1990s – a turbulent time when the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) was heading an armed rebellion for independence from India. Violence, death, and disappearance dominate the stories from the filmmaker’s childhood. The film recollects and reconstructs fragments of those memories through personal narratives of the filmmaker’s friends, parents, and relatives.
A Place To Live
A film by Sanjiv Shah
16 April 2019 | 06:30 pm
The film was commissioned by exhibition on the State of Housing in India, looking at housing crisis as it has emerged in the last 70 years.
Migration due to lack of opportunities, natural calamities, civil strife and forced displacement due to ‘development’ projects have made India a country with one of the largest homeless populations amongst all countries of the world. In spite of official estimates of 20 million in people in urban India alone not having a home, and constitutional affirmation of the right to live for all, there is no legal provision for assuring that. The film is structured around conversations with people: their idea of a home, their struggles to find for themselves a place to live – those forced to the margins of society, as well as those within the system but unable to find/afford it. Presented within the larger context of the current economic and development the film argues for a multiplicity of approaches; diversity of imaginations of our villages, towns and cities; acknowledgement of the fundamental rights of people to shelter and food and a model of development that is rooted in the ecology of the land.
Duration: 100 mins
Sanjiv Shah studied a bit of Architecture in the mid 1970’s. He worked briefly with an organization engaged in social housing and issues related to housing rights in Kolkata. He has also studied editing/filmmaking at FTII, Pune between 1977 and 1981. Sanjiv has been an intermittent filmmaker working on diverse fiction and non-fiction films for the past 4 decades. He is mainly interested in exploring forms of the medium to effectively communicate and engage with issues that are socially, culturally and politically relevant.
Sanjiv has produced, edited and directed several documentaries on issues like Housing Rights, drought in the grasslands of Kutch, struggles of organized landless labourers across India and ecosystems of the desert of Rajasthan and the Himalayas.
A film by Swati Dandekar
29 March 2019 | 06:30 pm
The synthetic dye industry is one of the most polluting of industries the world over! It can blacken rivers, poison the land and harm the skin. There is now a global search for natural dyes, but where are they?
Neeli Raag (True Blue) tells the story of Indigo, one of the oldest and most precious natural dyes of India, that was lost to the events and process of history. Today, as the world seeks natural colours once more, it is back in the spotlight. The stubborn dreamers who kept it alive through the years of oblivion feel vindicated, and yet crafting natural indigo requires body-knowledge and commitment that seems to belong to another time.
Traversing between the verdant monsoon of Tamil Nadu, the earthy expanses of springtime Telangana and the wintry desert of Kachchh, Neeli Raag is an attempt to tell the story of indigo as it is practised in India today. Interwoven with the narratives of the indigo craftsmen is the colour itself in its many moods textures and forms. How does a green leaf yield blue colour? How do the different shades emerge? The processes of indigo are almost magical to behold, as murky solutions transform into a vibrant blue, bit by bit. This is a blue that deepens, mesmerises, stains, and seeps into the skin and nails, indeed the lives of those who craft it. Can it survive our own life and times and live to tell its tale to the future?
Swati Dandekar is a documentary filmmaker with a special interest in creating visual narratives of the living history around her; of people, places, ideas, traditions, practices, and the continuous process of change. Her past work is a series of essay films that explore the relationship between place, people, resources and the institutions that govern these. Her film “Water and a City” was widely screened in India and abroad, and is part of the curriculum for courses on water and development studies. In addition, she has been closely involved with designing audio-visual media for education. As a founder trustee of Vikalp Bengaluru, she has been actively screening documentary films in Bangalore for over ten years. She also teaches film at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.
Aedan – Garden of Desire
A film by Sanju Surendran
19 February 2019 | 06:30 pm
A kaleidoscope of characters creating visions of love, evil and death. A failed writer who settles scores with an old gentleman through a charade of life and death. A nurse who falls in love while transporting the corpse of her father from Bangalore City to her village in Kottayam. A rowdy who is reformed on seeing Jesus Christ. Stories within stories, unfolding as the game of death progresses.
Direction – Sanju Surendran
Producer – Murali Mattummal
Story – S Hareesh
Screenplay – S Hareesh, Sanju Surendran
Cinematography – Manesh Madhavan
Editing – Sreya Chatterjee
Sound Design – Godly Timo Koshy
Sound Mixing – Pramod Thomas
Sound Recordist – Ajayan Adat
Sanju Surendran, an Indian filmmaker is a graduate of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. At the Institute he picked his lessons from the legendary filmmaker Mani Kaul. Sanju has done a brief stint as a teacher of Film Direction and Screenwriting at the KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts, Kottayam, Kerala. His documentary on Kutiyattam, Kapila won the National award for the best documentary. Sanju’s first feature film, Aedan- Garden of Desire won Rajathachakoram award for the best debut director and the FIPRESCI award for the best Malayalam film.
Aedan is more of a folktale in its elemental qualities and evocation of eternal human passions. Following the tradition of Indian epic narration, the structure of the movie is that of a story within a story. The stories attempt a microscopic examination of the human psyche. What we see in the subdued, underplayed narration is a whirlwind of emotions – lust, passion, envy and rage. Life and death, game and crime, loss and lust, light and shade, rain and shine play hide and seek against the dark, bright and grey backdrops. As the movie traverses through the emotional universes of the characters, the idyllic landscape of a beautiful Kerala village takes on diabolic dimensions in the night.
Wikipedia page – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aedan_(film)
Aaj school jaana hai kya? / Are you going to school today?
A film by Anupama Srinivasan
28 January 2019 | 06:30 pm
The film takes us to rural government schools in the predominantly tribal district of Dungarpur in southern Rajasthan. We see children coming from difficult contexts with very limited material resources, absentee fathers and younger siblings to look after. How do teachers respond to this situation? How do they bring children to school and try to create an environment in which they are motivated to learn? Even as the film observes the efforts of the teachers, it explores the fragile relationship of children with schools. It seems that everyday the question needs to be asked anew, Are you going to school today?
Anupama Srinivasan is a freelance filmmaker based in Delhi, India. An alumna of Harvard University and FTII, she has been making documentaries for the past 17 years, often shooting and editing her own work. Her films I Wonder…, On my Own and On my Own Again have been screened at various film festivals including 100 Years of Cinema Centenary Festival, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, FIPA Biarritz, Mumbai International Film Festival, ImagineIndia Madrid and Kara Filmfest. The documentary Nirnay that she co-directed and edited won the Pramod Pati Most Innovative Film Award at MIFF 2014. She has also collaborated with CIET, NCERT to make short documentaries on gender and education.
She was the Festival Director of the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival for three years (2013-15), and of the Peace Builders International Film Festival in 2016.
Yeh Freedom Life / This Freedom Life
A film by Priya Sen
18 December 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
Language: Hindi with English subtitles
Direction & Editing: Priya Sen
Cinematography: Ankur Ahuja
Yeh Freedom Life / This Freedom Life was filmed over a year in Dr. Ambedkar Nagar in Delhi. It moves between the two very different worlds of its protagonists and tries to keep up with the currents and swings of their respective loves. One of the them works at a local beauty parlour, the other runs the family’s small cigarette counter at a crowded intersection. They are surrounded by a cacophonous city; they are both in love with other women. The film accompanies them through their desire to find and live their ‘freedom lives’ – lives that are outside society and family’s constant scrutiny and sanction. But this ‘freedom life’ also leaves them vulnerable to the precariousness of love, when it refuses such constraints.
Priya Sen works as a filmmaker and artist across film / video, sound and installation. Her work has centred around questions of form, urban ethnography, music and migration. She is currently based in New Delhi.
The Death of Us
A film by Vani Subramanian
29 November 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
Cinematography: Desmond Roberts
Edit: Kuldeep Gaur, Vani Subramanian
Sound Design: Pratik Biswas
Duration: 76 minutes
The debates on the death penalty today are marked by a cacophony of strident assertions. Going against this tide is The Death of Us – a quiet contemplation on a range of cases in which the death penalty was pronounced, ending in execution, commutation to life sentence, acquittal or even pardon. Speaking only to those who have been on death row or those very closely involved with the cases, we engage in complex conversations on crime and punishment, revenge and justice, popular rhetoric and personal experiences. Only to find ourselves confronting larger ethical and moral questions across time and space.
One-time advertising writer, Vani Subramanian has been a women’s rights activist and documentary filmmaker since the nineties. Her work as a filmmaker explores the connections between everyday practices and larger political questions, be they in the areas of culture, food production, primary education, urban development, communalism, sex selective abortions, or even matters of identity embedded in our food practices. Her films have been screened and received awards, both nationally and internationally. More recently, Vani has extended her practice to video art in performance, as well as a mixed media installation.
A film by Sandhya Kumar
23 October 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
In many villages in Tamil Nadu, a theatre tradition still links people with a past. Closely connected with religion and caste rituals, koothu brings to life stories about gods, demigods, kings and demons from the Indian epics. A typical koothu performance is an all-night show in which performers wear elaborate make-up, costumes and wooden ornaments, and simultaneously sing, dance and act on stage.
During the festival season, many koothu companies tour the countryside, often commissioned by villages to perform for several consecutive nights. Yet, in spite of its enduring rural popularity and because of its low-caste associations, koothu struggles to find place and patronage in urban art circles. Who creates binaries of folk and classical? Who decides what is crude? Who decides what is sophisticated? Through the work of two koothu masters, P. Rajagopal and Sambandan Thambiran, this film presents the art and the aesthetics of koothu and looks into several questions surrounding Koothu.
About the Director
Sandhya Kumar is a film and communications graduate of San Francisco Art Institute and Jamia Millia University, New Delhi. Her 2012 documentary, ‘O Friend, This Waiting!’ won the Indian National Film Award for Best Arts/Cultural Film, for its unconventional exploration of the Devadasi tradition in South India through the medium of love-poetry. Sandhya’s films have traveled in India and internationally, with screenings at the Mumbai International Film Festival, The Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, SF MOMA, The 3rd I South Asian Film Festival, Film South Asia, Kathmandu and International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala. She has received film grants from the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) and the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) and has been an ATSA fellow at ARThink South Asia. Sandhya is a trustee of Vikalp Bengaluru, a filmmakers’ collective committed to creating platforms for documentary films to reach wider audiences
Palai—Landscapes of Longing
A film by Jayakrishnan Subramanian
12 July 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
Duration: 28 mins
Language: Tamil with English Subtitles
Palai—Landscapes of Longing is a metaphoric interpretation of Tamil classical poetry and the artistic depiction of the desert landscape of Palai in Sangam literature. The landscape of Palai is associated with separation and longing—when love is subject to extremities. Juxtaposing the contemporary socio-political context of Tamil migrant workers in the Middle East and this ancient form of poetry, the film explores modern slavery, labour and migration.
Jayakrishnan Subramanian studied Fine Art at the University of Madras and Graphic Design at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. He has a Masters in Media Art and Design from Bauhaus University in Weimar. His work spans film, photography, and animation. His first feature-length animated documentary, Amma & Appa is a collaborative effort with his wife Franziska Schönenberger. He has worked with filmmaker Kamal Swaroop on a graphic novel version of the film script Omniyam and the cover design for the book Tracing Phalke—The man and his times, 1870-1944; and Nishtha Jain’s poster designs for her films The Family Album and Gulabi Gang.
Jayakrishnan Subramanian received a grant from India Foundation for the Arts, under the Arts Research programme. He will be present for a post screening discussion.
A Thin Wall
22 June 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
A THIN WALL is a documentary about memory, history and the possibility of reconciliation. It focuses on the Partition of India in 1947, but derives lessons that remain urgently relevant today. Shot on both sides of the border, in India and Pakistan, A THIN WALL is a personal take on Partition rooted in stories passed down from one generation to another. It is written and directed by Mara Ahmed and co-produced by Surbhi Dewan. Both filmmakers are descendants of families torn apart by Partition. The film is also a work of art infused with original animation, music and literary writing.
Mara Ahmed has lived and has been educated in Belgium, Pakistan and the United States. She has a Master’s in Business and Economics. For most of her life she worked in corporate finance. In 2004, Mararesigned from her job in order to devote herself to her true passion: art and film. Mara’s artwork was exhibited at the Kinetic Gallery in 2008 and more recently at the Colacino Gallery in Rochester, NY. The shows were multi-media fusions of her collage work, photography and film work. Mara’s film training began at the Visual Studies Workshop in 2006, and later continued at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Mara’s first film, The Muslims I Know premiered at the Dryden Theatre in 2008. It was meant to start a dialogue between American Muslims and non-Muslims. Her second film, Pakistan One on One, opened at the Little Theatre in 2011. Shot entirely in Lahore, it is a broad survey of public opinion in Pakistan, about issues of interest to Americans. Both films have been broadcast on America’s Public Broadcasting System, shown at film festivals, and screened on college and university campuses. A THIN WALL, which was completed in 2015, premiered at the Bradford Literature Festival (UK). It was officially selected by film festivals in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Montreal and Dublin and was screened in Vancouver, London, Brussels and Amsterdam. Mara is now working on a documentary about racism in America. Her production company is Neelum Films.
Naach Bhikhari Naach
31 May 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
Language: Bhojpuri with English Subtitles
Duration: 72 mins
Directed by Jainendra Dost & Shilpi Gulati
Director: Jainendra Dost & Shilpi Gulati
Producer: Rajiv Mehrotra
Executive Producers: Ridhima Verma and Tulika Srivastava
Director of Photography: Udit Khurana
Editor: Shilpi Gulati
Sound: Varun Venugopal
Music: Bhikhari Thakur Repertory
Assistant Director: Vishwa Gulati
Research: Jainendra Dost
Translations: Lourdes Mary Supriya & Jainendra Dost
Naach is a form of traditional folk theatre from Bihar, India. In this tradition, male artists often cross dress as women on stage and are referred to as ‘laundas’. The most legendary name in this tradition is Bhikari Thakur’s— who was an actor, playwright, and a social reformer popularly known as the ‘Shakespeare of Bhojpuri.’ The film follows the last four Naach performers to have worked him and creates a visual archive of their performance tradition. As they share their plays, songs ad a lifetime of memories of performance, they immerse us into the world of folk theatre where we begin to see a glimpse of budhau – the old man, himself.
About the filmmakers:
Jainendra is a doctoral scholar at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. His work examines the social and political realities of Launda Nach and Bhikhari Thakur’s folk theatre in Bihar. His theoretical inquiry closely ties into his experience as a theatre practitioner over the 18 years where he has directed 11 stage productions and acted in more than 15 national and international theatre presentations. Jainendra is also the Director of Bhikhari Thakur Repertory Training and Research Centre which is working towards the revival of folk theatre in Bihar. In the past, his work has been supported by India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) and Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India.
Shilpi Gulati is a filmmaker and researcher based out of New Delhi. Her body of work largely engages with themes of gender, performance and oral traditions in India. Her last documentary ‘Qissa-e Parsi’ (2014) won the National Award for the Best Ethnographic Film and her other works, ‘Inside Out’ (2010), ‘Dere to Delhi’ (2012) and ‘Lock and Key’ (2017) have been screened at various festivals in Asia, Europe and the US. Shilpi is also a Fulbright scholar and is currently pursuing her PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Kaphal (Wild Berries)
26 April 2018 | 6:00 pm onwards
Genre: Fiction feature
Duration: 90 mins
Direction, Story: Batul Mukhtiar
Screenplay: Batul Mukhtiar, Vivek Shah
Producer: Children’s Film Society, India
Cinematographer: Vivek Shah
Music Director: Ved Nair
Editor: Hemanti Sarkar
Sound Design: Boby John
Art Direction: Vivek Shah
Location Sound: Vinod Subramanian
Digital Intermediate: Film Lab
Sound Design Studio: Prathibha Studio
Re-Recording: Prime Focus
Re-Recording Engineer: Ajay Kumar PB
Colourist: Hitendra Parab
Makar and Kamru live in a small village in Garhwal. All the men in the village work in the city. Makar’s friends’ fathers visit the village regularly, with gifts for the family. But Makar and Kamru have not seen their father for 5 years. When he does come home, Makar and Kamru find that not only has he not brought them any gifts, he scolds them regularly, and disciplines them too much. Makar’s friends, Bupi and Pusu convince him that his father may be an imposter. They plan to get rid of their father, through a magic potion from a witch in the forest, Pagli Dadi (Mad Granny). But instead they meet Pagli Dadi’s granddaughter, Ghungra who takes them for a merry ride. On the way, the boys learn many lessons, including that people are not always what they seem, and magic may work in unpredictable ways.
Batul Mukhtiar studied Film Direction at FTII, Pune. She has worked as AP/fixer on documentaries for BBC, Channel 4, Arte, CBC, NatGeo, YLE & VPRO. Her work as writer/director/EP includes documentary 150 SECONDS AGO & children’s feature, LILKEE. Both films have screened at festivals like Cinema Du Reel & Yamagata IDFF.
Her feature KAPHAL won the National Award for Best Children’s Film 2014 & the Golden Elephant for Best Director at ICFFI 2013. KAPHAL has screened at MAMI, Goteborg IFF, Zlin IFFCY, Busan IKFF, Chicago South Asian FF & Saga Stockholm Women’s IFF. She has served on the National Award Jury in 2015 and works on several juries and selection committees for IDPA, Films Division and MAMI Half-Ticket amongst others.
She also mentors young documentary filmmakers through a program ‘Conversations on Documentary’ and through Pomegranate Workshop. She blogs about books, films, and life at http://batulm.wordpress.com/
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYiPkhpffus
kho ki pa lü / Up Down & Sideways
23 March 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
Country of Production: India
Date of Completion: August 2017
Runtime: 83 minutes
Language: Chokri with English subtitles
Directed by: Anushka Meenakshi & Iswar Srikumar
Produced by: Manas Malhotra
Associate Director: Ruokuobeituo Bibi Soho
Camera: Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar & Tarun Saldanha
Editing: Anushka Meenakshi & Iswar Srikumar
Music: Community of Phek Village
Sound Design: Allwin Rego & Sanjay Maurya
Sound Mix: Vishnu Das & Debajit Changmai
Colour/ DI: Dilshad Nanji
Executive Producers: Sreeram Ramanathan & Sumeet Kamath
India Foundation for the Arts, Research and Documentation Grant
NFDC Film Bazaar Work in Progress Lab
Docedge Forum for Asian Documentary and Crowdfunding
“If not for you, I have no other true love When we work together the sun sets early Without you I am nothing”
Close to the India – Myanmar border is the village of Phek in Nagaland. Around 5000 people live here, almost all of whom cultivate rice for their own consumption. As they work in cooperative groups — preparing the terraced fields, planting saplings, or harvesting the grain and carrying it up impossibly steep slopes — the rice cultivators of Phek sing. The seasons change, and so does the music, transforming the mundane into the hypnotic. The love that they sing of is also a metaphor for the need for the other – the friend, the family, the community, to build a polyphony of voices.
Stories of love, stories of the field, stories of song, stories in song. ‘Up Down & Sideways’ is a musical portrait of a community of rice cultivators and their memories of love and loss, created from working together on the fields. It is the first feature film from the u-ra-mi-li project, a larger body of work that looks at the connections between music and labour.
14 Feb 2018 | 6:30 pm onwards
Fiction | Hindi with English subtitles | Duration: 72 mins | 2017
In the neighbourhood, chess is a popular pass time, with roadside games bringing together men from different strata. Their pawns include morality and religion, causing social and political tensions to erupt when a tournament gets underway. But the men are only the most visible players. Against this simmering backdrop, a domestic worker with a secret hobby, a young woman in love and a former journalist struggling with married life must make their moves with care. When caste, class, religion and gender come into play, there are boundaries to be negotiated, and the very rules of the game stand challenged.
Ektara Collective is an independent, autonomous, non-funded group of people with an aim to combine creative efforts and imagination and collaborate with trained and untrained people. They come together to make films that, in content and aesthetically, are located in people’s subjective, contextual realities and experiences. Through this process, Ektara has made and produced two short fiction films—Chanda Ke Joote, 22mins, 2011; Jaadui Machchi, 38mins, 2013. Turup is the first fiction feature film by the Collective.
A Delicate Weave
16 January 2018 | 6:30 pm
Duration: 62 mins
Language: Kutchi and Hindi with English subtitles
Director: Anjali Monteiro and K. P. Jayasankar
‘A Delicate Weave’, set in Kachchh, Gujarat, traces four different musical journeys, all converging in the ways they affirm religious diversity, syncretism and love of the other. Drawing on the poetic and musical traditions of Kabir and Shah Bhitai, as well as the folk traditions of the region, these remarkable musicians and singers bear testimony to how these oral traditions of compassion are being passed down from one generation to the next.
Whether it is the group of young men in Bhujodi who meet every night to sing the bhajans of Kabir, or the feisty women from Lakhpat, who quietly subvert gender roles through their music performances, or Noor Mohammad Sodha, who plays and teaches exquisite flute music, or Jiant Khan and his disciples, whose love for the Sufi poet Bhitai is expressed through the ethereal form of Waee singing—all these passionate musicians keep alive this delicate weave, committed to the project of what Naranbhai, a carpet weaver and community archivist from Bhujodi calls “breaking down the walls”; walls that have been built up through the politics of hate and intolerance that marks our times.
About the director:
Anjali Monteiro and K.P. Jayasankar (www.monteiro-jayasankar.com) are Professors at the School of Media and Cultural Studies (www. smcs.tiss.edu), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Both of them are involved in media production, teaching and research. They have played a key role in setting up the School of Media and Cultural Studies, TISS and the MA programme in Media and Cultural Studies. Their documentary films, which have been screened across the world, have won 32 national and international awards Their most recent awards are the Best film award at the International Folk Film Festival, Kathmandu and the Basil Wright Prize for So Heddan So Hoddan (Like Here Like There) at the 13th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film 2013, Edinburgh. Retrospectives include Vibgyor Film Festival, Kerala, 2006; Bangalore Film Society, 2010; Madurai International Film Festival, 2012 and Parramasala Sydney, 2013. An adaptation of their film Saacha (The Loom) was a part of the art exhibition ‘Project Space: Word. Sound. Power.’ at the Tate Modern, London, in 2013; and at Khoj, New Delhi in 2014. They have served as jury and as festival consultants and directors to several film festivals in India. They have mentored many student and fellowship documentary film projects as commissioning editors.
They have a recent book entitled A Fly in the Curry, on independent Indian documentary, published by Sage in 2016, which has won a Special Mention for the best book on cinema in the National Film Awards, 2016. They are both recipients of several fellowships, including the Howard Thomas Memorial Fellowship in Media Studies, the Fulbright visiting lecturer fellowship, and the Erasmus Mundus scholarship, among others. They have also been visiting faculty at several leading media and design institutions and lectured at universities in the USA, Australia, Europe, and in Asian countries.
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings
29 November 2017 | 6:30 pm
Duration: 72min 31sec
Director: Prateek Vats
Producer: Films Division
A film anchored in the twilight years of the life of legendary Indian bodybuilder and former Mr. Universe, Monohar Aich. As the body fades away, the film begins to take shape.
The film starts on the eve on Mr. Aich’s 101st birthday. Mr. Aich’s insistence on not remembering anything about his life is where the idea of the film germinates – to consciously move away from the evidential burden of a ‘biopic’ towards an intimate portrait – A story that transcends time to reveal the oddities that make human stories worth telling.
The film has been shot over a period two years. The complex interpersonal relationships formed during the filming become the lens through which we try to evoke the time that has passed and perhaps get a perspective of what an individual’ passionate obsession (or idiosyncrasy?) might mean.
My Camera and Tsunami | 27-Jan-17
The film shares special moments that the filmmaker experienced with his camera, a special bonding over a period of 4 years, in terms of creating cinematic imagery, relating, exploring, seeking and interpreting notions of his reality. It is a memory of a camera which perished in the Tsunami, along with its last filmed footage. Its last recorded footage, an elusive image, evoking multiple possibilities, seeking parallels and new perspectives.
Nostalgia for the Future | 20-Feb-17
Avijit Mukul Kishore and Rohan Shivkumar
Hindi and English with EST, 16mm and video, 54 min, 2017
Direction: Avijit Mukul Kishore, Rohan Shivkumar
Production: Films Division India
This will be the film’s first screening in Bengaluru.
‘Nostalgia for the future’ is a film essay that explores the conception of the body of the citizen, the nation and the home in modern India.
The film is a journey through four distinct imaginations of homes and bodies across examples of buildings built over a century. These are the Lukhshmi Vilas Palace in Baroda – the gigantic home built by a progressive monarch in the late 19th Century; the Villa Shodhan in Ahmedabad – a private residence designed by Le Corbusier, which represents an idea of domesticity within Nehruvian modernity; the Sabarmati Ashram which epitomises the Gandhian aspirations of the nation-state; and public housing in post-independence Delhi designed by the Government of India to house refugees from Pakistan and the bureaucrats of the newly independent nation.
The film explores these spaces and imagines the bodies that were meant to inhabit them through the evocation of the cinematic and aural collective memory of a nation reinventing itself. It uses a mix of formats – 16mm film, digital video in both colour and Black and White, along with archival footage from state propaganda and mainstream cinema.
It is a collaboration between film maker Avijit Mukul Kishore and architect Rohan Shivkumar. It emerges from the intersection of their respective disciplines – architecture and documentary film, both of which were and continue to be embroiled in a discourse of utilitarianism and certainty. The film opens these disciplines out to self-critique and looks at the way they were involved in imagining and constructing the modern Indian nation and its citizen.
About the film makers
Avijit Mukul Kishore is a filmmaker and cinematographer based in Mumbai, working in documentary and inter-disciplinary moving-image practices. He is involved in cinema pedagogy as a lecturer, and curates film programmes for prominent national cultural institutions. His films as director include Snapshots from a Family Album, Vertical City, To Let the World In, Electric Shadows and Nostalgia for the Future, and as cinematographer: Kumar Talkies, Kali Salwaar, John and Jane, Seven Islands and a Metro, Bidesia in Bambai, I am Micro and An Old Dog’s Diary.
Rohan Shivkumar is an architect and an urban designer practicing in Mumbai, and Deputy Director at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies. His work spans architectural and interior design, to urban research and consultancy on issues concerning housing, public space and sanitation. He is interested in exploring the many ways of reading and representing the city, and is co-editor of the publication on a research and art collaboration – Project Cinema City. He also curates film programmes and writes for Anarchytect (blog) on cinema and urban issues. He is working on a book discussing approaches to the design of homes among Indian architectural practices.
Here the Seats are Vacant | 30-Mar-17
Here the seats are Vacant, a film by Shiva Sanjari, tells the story of Shahrzad. Shahrzad was sold by her father at the age of 12 and forced to dance in a cabaret of Tehran. Years passed by and Shahrzad succeeded as a famous dancer. She then acted in movies and received prestigious awards.
In 1977 Shahrzad became Iran’s first female director. After the Islamic revolution in 1979, Shahrzad was arrested by the new government and sent to Evin prison. After her release she had to be institutionalised in a mental hospital. The government never let her work again. Today Shahrzad is 72, dealing with her life in a small village of Iran.
Amma Ariyan | 12-May-17
Amma Ariyan is a 1986 Malayalam film directed by John Abraham. The film revolves around the death of a Naxalite, after which his friend must travel to his village to inform his mother of the death of her son.
Amma Ariyan was the first film of the Odessa Collective and the last made by Abraham. The funds for the films were collected by traveling from village to village, through street plays and skits, and by contribution from the general public. It is considered a landmark film in the history of Indian and Malayalam cinema.
The books we Made | 30-Jun-17
Anupama Chandra and Uma Tanuku
“The Books We Made” is a documentary inspired by the work of Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon, both of whom co-founded the first feminist publishing house in India: “Kali for Women”. The film is about the joy and pain of surviving in two non-lucrative professions: that of writing for small, discerning audiences; and that of publishing, translating and promoting work barely known outside its own linguistic region in India. The film looks back on Butalia and Menon’s thirty years in publishing, and focusses on the feminist politics and friendships that made this survival possible. Butalia and Menon chose to publish writing that had no audience at the time. They succeeded not only in staying afloat, but in developing a readership interested in their books.
We make images | 28-Jul-17
“We Make Images” is an animated interpretation of an origin myth from the Bhil community in Madhya Pradesh, India. For the Bhil community painting is like offering a prayer and the film reveals why. The film is a collaboration between the indigenous artist Sher Singh from the community and the film maker Nina Sabnani that explores ways of telling together.
About the director
Nina Sabnani is an Associate Professor at the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay where she recently completed her Doctoral Research in the area of storytelling with a particular focus on the Kaavad tradition of Rajasthan. Nina pursued her MA at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, NY, USA, as a recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship in1997. She graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Vadodara, specializing in painting.
She was a senior designer at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad for twenty-two years, where she was actively involved in setting up the first Advanced Entry Program in Animation at NID in 1985.
She has experimented in transposing artistic styles into animation. Shubh Vivah, uses the Madhubani style of painting to dwell on the anti-dowry issue. All About Nothing an early stopmotion film is a conjecture about the birth of zero in India. Mukand and Riaz is an animated documentary about partition using textiles, embroidery and appliqué. Her critically acclaimed film “The Stitches Speak” an animated documentary using textiles has won several national and international awards. Her most recent film, “It’s the same story”, an animated short, is an experiment in narrative discourse. Apart from making films she has illustrated several books for Tulika Publishers.
Velvet Revolution | 22-Aug-17
Duration: 55 Minutes
Countries of Production: Cameroon, India, Philippines, UK, USA
Executive Producer and Project Director: Nupur Basu
Illang Illang Quijano – Philippines
Deepika Sharma – India
Pochi Tamba Nsoh and Sidonie Pongmoni – Cameroon
EVA Brownstein – USA/ Bangladesh
Editor: Reena Mohan
Co- Editor: Nirmal Chander Dandriyal
Produced By: IAWRT
In this exciting collaborative film – Velvet Revolution – six women directors take their lens up-close to women making news. In a world riven with conflict and dictatorial regimes where journalists are constantly under threat of both, state and non-state actors, what drives these women journalists to do their jobs?
“I did not want to be a war correspondent… but the war came to my door-step,” says award-winning Syrian journalist, Zaina Erhaim, now living in exile in southern Turkey.
“The President is wrong when he says that journalists are being killed because they are corrupt – who corrupts whom… who holds the power to corrupt?” asks Kimberlie Ngabit Quitasol, a young woman journalist from Philippines.
“I could not leave my co-warriors in the middle of the battlefield,” says Bonya Ahmed, the wife of slain Bangladesh blogger, Avijit Roy and the Editor of Muktomona, in her first ever documentary interview.
The documentary profiles women journalists who have paid a high price for speaking truth to power.
Executive Producer’s Bio-Note:
Nupur Basu is an award-winning television journalist and documentary filmmaker from India. She has reported extensively in print, television and documentary films on politics, development, livelihood issues, environment, health, media and culture from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and Uganda. Her non-fiction films include Dry Days in Dobbagunta, Mothers of Mallapuram, Michael Jackson Comes to Manikganj, Lost Generations, No Country for Young Girls.
More information https://www.iawrt.org/news/women-making-news-%E2%80%93-new-york
Five Broken Cameras | 15-Jan-16
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
This Oscar nominated film is a first-hand account of protests in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. The documentary was almost entirely shot by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his son. In 2009, Israeli co-director Guy Davidi joined the project. The film is structured around the destruction of Burnat’s cameras, as he records the turmoil in his community.
Cities of Sleep | 02-Feb-16
‘Cities of Sleep’ (77 minutes, director: Shaunak Sen) takes us into a heady world of insurgent sleeper’s communities as well as the infamous ‘sleepmafia’ in Delhi where just securing a safe sleeping spot often becomes a question of life and death for a large number of people.
The film trails the lives of two individuals, Shakeel and Ranjeet. Shakeel, a renegade homeless sleeper has for the last 7 years slept in a diverse range of improvised places like subways, under park benches, parking lots, abandoned cars and lately, at areas controlled by the sleep mafia. The film follows his attempts to secure a safe sleeping space just around the time the infamous winter rains of Delhi are due.
Ranjeet runs the ‘sleep-cinema’ community in Loha Pul in Delhi, a huge double-storey iron bridge straddling the banks of the river Yamuna. A thin strip of land under Loha Pul houses shanty cinemas where over 400 odd homeless come and sleep through the day for a nominal price. The flooding of the river Yamuna poses a threat to the people sleeping there every monsoon.
The film looks at not only the tremendous social and political pressure that sleep exerts on the homeless in the city but is also a philosophical exploration of sleep at large.
Benegal’s New Cinema | 16-Feb-16
Duration: 60 mins
Director: Iram Ghufran
Producer: Rajiv Mehrotra
‘Benegal’s New Cinema’ is a documentary on the films of Shyam Benegal and explores the time, ethos and concerns of the New Cinema Movement in India through his oeuvre. A pioneer in the New Cinema Movement, within the Hindi film industry, Benegal’s career spans four decades of consistent work. The film is a foray into the mind of this great filmmaker, and an attempt to understand his motivations and impulses for making cinema. This film brings into conversation Benegal’s work from his first feature film, Ankur  to the formally experimental Suraj Ka Saatvan Ghoda . Lying at the interstices of history and memory, ‘Benegal’s New Cinema’ is an exercise in remembering the world of New Cinema of the 1970s and 80s and its relevance in the contemporary. Based on extensive interviews with Benegal, the documentary also features some of his closest colleagues including scriptwriter and filmmaker Girish Karnad, actors Shabana Azmi, Anant Nag and Rajit Kapur, music composer Vanraj Bhatia, and cinematographer Govind Nihalani.
Nero’s Guests | 27-Jul-16
Duration: 57 mins
Director: Deepa Bhatia
Nearly 2,00,000 farmers have committed suicide in India over the last 10 years. But the mainstream media hardly reflects this.
Nero’s Guests is a story about India’s agrarian crisis and the growing inequality seen through the work of the Rural Affairs Editor of Hindu newspaper, P Sainath.
Through sustained coverage of the farm crisis, Sainath and his colleagues created the national agenda, compelling a government in denial to take notice and act.
Through his writings and lectures, Sainath makes us confront the India we don’t want to see, and provokes us to think about who ‘Nero’s Guests’ are in today’s world.
A Picture of You | 21-Sep-16
HD / 72mins / English (with subtitles) / 2012 / India
Director: Ajay Noronha
A Picture of You is a cinematographer’s journey to piece together an image of his father who passed away when he was six. Growing up with one framed photograph on the wall and little else, Ajay Noronha sifts through memories, anecdotes and silences to come closer to the person he hardly knew.
It is a story of a middle-class Goan Catholic family that moves from Nagpur, a town in Central India to the bustling megapolis of Bombay in the late 1960’s. From the safe cocoon of a joint-family ancestral home to the insecurities of rented one-room tenements in the city.
A Picture of You is a difficult inquiry into the need to complete the picture of one’s own self.
Ajay Noronha is a cinematographer and documentary film maker. His passion for telling a story using images has taken him across the world in diverse contexts – television shows, documentaries, feature films, music videos, video art installations and workshops. A geology graduate from St Xavier’s, Ajay has been a copywriter and later worked at CRY – Child Rights and You before going on to study film at the MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He teaches cinematography at the Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai besides conducting workshops at other film schools. When he is not shooting, Ajay loves to travel, is passionate about cooking and music and still listens to vinyl records. He lives in Bombay with his wife and two year old daughter but dreams of settling down on a farm in Goa!
Sonpur Mela | 24-Oct-16
Sonpur Mela celebrates the colour and diversity of the largest animal fair in Asia. While such fairs may have been commonplace earlier, with changing lifestyles many such events have disappeared from the public eye. Unlike the Kumbh this is not well known but it has a history dating back to the Mauryan period.
During the month of Kartika (Hindu calendar), Sonpur is transformed with tents for animals and their owners. The entire area running along the Ganga is taken over by stalls and other attractions that begin set up weeks in advance. Apart from animals, over 5000 stalls and temporary shops are set up during the mela. There is a circus, ferris wheels and other delights that are common at a mela.
Inspite of the large numbers, Sonpur has retained the quaintness of a large village fair. At the mela participants meet, exchange news, check out the wares, negotiate and gradually move towards closing the deal. Each aspect of the animal is studied carefully and the buyer may visit the stall many times before buying the animal.
This is an age-old method of commerce far removed from the shopping malls that have claimed the landscape in our cities.
Visitors plan a multitude of activities. First they take a dip in the Ganga. Then they walk through the animal stalls. They also visit stalls to buy clothes for winter or items for the house. The children enjoy the circus and the rides. A full day at Sonpur includes savouring local snacks and sweets that are made fresh each day.
The film celebrates the Sonpur Mela and challenges the notion that such fairs are still relevant today. At Sonpur faith, entertainment and markets come together. This is how a large part of the country still lives even today.
Sonpur Mela took 3 years to research, shoot and edit. It incorporates stories of many people and animals that make up the fair.
The True Cost | 25-Nov-16
The True Cost is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.
Ek Chot Ka Malik | 16-Dec-16
Ek Chot Ka Malik is a film about the specialized and intricate process of makhana cultivation by farmers of the ‘Mallah’ community of North Bihar. Through the observational mode, it explores the non-conventional and rare seasonal farming technique. The film provides an insight into the elaborate process, ranging from the collection of fox nut plant seeds from the lake, drying the seeds, to the crucial ‘popping’ stage, the involvement of the whole family in this process and the insecurity of a migratory lifestyle. It reflects on the current contexts within the ‘Mallah’ community, the changing methods and economy.>
Arna’s Children | 22-Jan-15
Juliano Mer Khamis
Directed by: Juliano Mer Khamis & Danniel Danniel Produced by: Osnat Trabelsi & Pieter van Huystee
22 Jan 2015 5.30 pm – 6.30pm – Presentation by The Freedom Theatre 6.30 pm – 8pm – Screening of Arna’s Children
This personal narrative tells the story of a children’s theatre group on the West Bank that was established by Arna Mer Khamis, who grew up in a Zionist family and later married a Palestinian Arab. Directed by Arna’s son Juliano, Arna’s Children shifts back and forth in time to show the children in rehearsal from 1989 to 1996, and then revisits them later to discover the tragic fates that awaited three of them. Devastating and shocking, the film reveals the tragedy and horror of lives trapped by the circumstances of the Israeli occupation.
THE FREEDOM THEATRE
The Freedom Theatre is developing a vibrant and creative artistic community in the northern part of the West Bank. While emphasising professionalism and innovation, the aim of the theatre is also to empower youth and women in the community and to explore the potential of arts as an important catalyst for social change. The Freedom Theatre draws its inspiration from a unique project, Care and Learning, which used theatre and art to address the chronic fear, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by children in Jenin Refugee Camp. Set up during the first Intifada the project was run by Arna Mer Khamis, a revolutionary who devoted her life to campaigning for freedom and human rights, particularly in Occupied Palestine.
IIHS and FD Zone Bengaluru | 11-Feb-15
Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) in collaboration with Films Division Zone (FD Zone) presents two short films that engage with questions of censorship and the documentary form. The films were made by the film-maker S.N.S Sastry. The screenings will take place on the 11th February, 2015 at 6.30 pm at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus. The details of the programme can be found below. The screenings are open to all, and the entry is free. We request you to spread the word! PROGRAMME And I Make Short Films Director: SNS Sastry, 18 min, 1968 In this abstract experimental film Sastry uses film language to ask and answer several questions about censorship, the role of the documentary film maker and the form of documentary film making as prescribed by the state. Is a film maker a mere media professional responsible to only his craft or a social activist with a sense of commitment to his culture? FlashBack Director: SNS Sastry (21 min/ 1974/ B&W) The film is a survey of the documentary film movement in India. We hear views of Films Division filmmakers S. Sukhdev and S N S Sastry before the Emergency and close to the end of their lives talking about documentary.
About FD Zone
FD-zone is a collaborative effort of Films Division with independent film makers and organizations to organize regular curated screenings of documentaries, short films and animation films and avant-garde and meaningful cinema. Films Division proposes to develop FD-zone as a pan India network for organizations and individuals collaborating in various cities and towns of the country for promotion of documentary, short, animation and avant-garde films.
Partners in Crime | 13-Mar-15
Is piracy organized crime or class struggle? Are alternative artists who want to hold rights over their art and go it alone in the market, visionaries or nutcases? Is the fine line between plagiarism and inspiration a cop-out or a whole other way of looking at the fluid nature of authorship? Who owns a song – the person who made it or the person who paid for it? When more than three fourths of those with an internet connection download all sorts of material for free, are they living out a brand new cultural freedom – or are they criminals? Full of wicked irony, great music and thorny questions Partners in Crime explores the grey horizons of copyright and culture during times when technology is changing the contours of the market. Metal heads who market their own music, folklorists who turn tribal aphorisms into short stories, music archivists who hoard and share everything they can get their hands on, anti-piracy fanatics who think piracy funds terrorism, a smooth talking DVD street salesman who outlines the efficiency of the illegal market, media moguls, lobbyists, “monetizers, downloaders, uploaders, the biggest hit song of 2010 and the small time nautanki singer whose song it was inspired by – these places and people throng the world’s bazaar in which the film is set. Partners in Crime takes you througha story about art, crime, love and money to check if the times, they may be a-changing after all. Partners in Crime has won an award for Best Documentary at the Ladakh International Film Festival, 2011. Producer – Magic Lantern Foundation Executive Producer – Devi Pictures Director – Paromita Vohra Editor – Rikhav Desai Sound – Asheesh Pandya, Chris Burchell, Gissy Michael
2nd Edition, IIHS and FD Zone Bengaluru | Freedom Marches On | 22-Apr-15
This is a review of the various events that took place in India during the two eventful years following Independence.
2nd Edition, IIHS and FD Zone Bengaluru | Face to Face | 22-Apr-15
KS Chari and TA Abraham
This film examines the meaning of democracy twenty years after independence by talking to people on the street.
2nd Edition, IIHS and FD Zone Bengaluru | This Bit of That India | 22-Apr-15
A experimental journey through sound and images of the youth of the country, and their thoughts in the ‘70s.
I am Micro | 21-May-15
Shumona Goel & Shai Heredia
15 mins | Directed by Shumona Goel & Shai Heredia | 21 May 2015 6.30 pm
A National Award winning film by Shumona Goel & Shai Heredia 15 mins / 35mm/ B&W / Dolby SR / 2012 / India Film Synopsis: Shot in the passages of an abandoned optics factory and centered on the activities of a low-budget film crew, I Am Micro is an experimental essay about filmmaking, the medium of film, and the spirit of making independent cinema.
City Beyond | 21-May-15
11 mins | A film by Shreyasi Kar | 21 May 2015 6.30 pm
City Beyond is a film that speculates about the lives led by inhabitants of a submerged civilisation. The superstructure has been recently discovered in the crevices of the ocean floor. The film moves through the submerged landscape, gathering glimpses of life, times and the end of a lost society
Every Time You Tell a Story | 01-Jul-15
Ruchika Negi and Amit Mahanti
How do you tell a story when its words are a song, a stone, an image, a symbol? A story that is woven into a shawl, woven through time itself?
Tsungkotepsu is a shawl worn by men of the Ao-Naga tribe in Nagaland. Traditionally, it was meant to signify the achievements of warriors who had won enemy heads in war. Even though head hunting days are long gone, the Tsungkotepsu shawl is still central to the Ao-Naga imagination.
Every Time You Tell a Story offers an interpretation of history, a way of understanding the shifts that this shawl-making tradition has experienced when confronted with the certitudes of history – colonialism, new religion and assimilation in the Indian State. Through histories that have written themselves onto its fabric, how does the story continue to resonate today?
Ruchika Negi and Amit Mahanti received a grant for this project under IFA’s Arts Research and Documentation Programme.
The film screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers.
What the fields remember | 16-Jul-15
About the Film
Duration: 52 mins/HD/Bengali and English
On 18th February 1983, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, more than 2000 Muslims were killed in the town of Nellie and its surrounding villages in Assam, India. People’s homes were burnt down and their fields destroyed. Most of those who died were old people, women and children. Till date the Nellie massacre, remains on the margins of India’s public history, and is virtually wiped out from the nation’s collective memory.
The documentary film What the Fields Remember revisits the massacre three decades later. From the survivors, Sirajuddin Ahmed and Abdul Khayer’s, retelling of the event, and their struggles of coping with loss and memories that refuse to fade away, the film attempts to explore ideas of violence, memory and justice. It also tries to understand how physical spaces that have witnessed the violence continue to mark people’s relationship to history and memory. What the Fields Remember also attempts to raise larger questions around collective memory – of what we choose to remember and why we choose to forget.
Research, Script and Directon – Subasri Krishnan
Cinematography and Editing – Amit Mahanti
Location Sound and Sound Design/Mix – Julius L. Basaiawmoit
Editing Consultant – Sameera Jain
Translation and Transcription – Bedatri D. Choudhury
Graphics – Chandan Gorana
Producer – Rajiv Mehrotra (for PSBT)
Executive Producers – Tulika Srivastava and Ridhima Mehra
Disclaimer: The performance of the cinematograph film is strictly in the course of activities of the IIHS and the audience is limited to the staff and students and persons directly connected with the said Institute for private screening purposes and communication to such staff, students and such other persons.
The Bankrupts | 14-Aug-15
Two filmmaker friends meet after fourteen years and have to spend a span of eight to ten hours together. As they celebrate the re-union one narrates a story of a possible film to another. But soon, as the secession turns into a game of one up-man-ship; their bizarre past catches up with them. Central to this is the fatherhood of a fourteen year old girl! The duo by the end realise that they are as bankrupt as ever, in all sense of the word.
Two tales of Modikhana | 11-Sep-15
Duration: 73 minutes
Language: Marathi (English Subtitle)
Sudhir Waghmare’s canvases take us to Modikhana, a ‘servants’ back alley’ of the erstwhile British cantonment in Poona. While it finds no place in the mainstream history of Pune, Waghmare’s narrative reveals the rich and overlapping layers of the social and political history of Modikhana. The process of the untouchables’ metamorphosis into ‘Dalits’ and their politicization under the towering shadow of Dr. B R Ambedkar strongly reverberate through the spaces,houses and the people in each of his canvases.
In contrast, his daughter Kranti’s quest for form brings her face to face with the daily violence of the environment in which she grew up. It makes her question the available ways of confronting this violence. Her efforts to expand the horizons of her personal experience as a student of art in America, lead her to a unique way of expression. She continues to search for form, and tries to find creative ways to collaborate with her community.
The contradictions and realities of Modikhana, an area that has seen much transition, are finely captured through the very different and highly individualistic voices of both these artists.
3rd Edition of IIHS and FD Zone Bengaluru Film Screening | 30-Oct-15
Pramod Pati & Satyajit Ray
Moments with the Maestro / Director: Pramod Pati (26:18 min / 1970 / B&W / English)
An All India Radio Films Division presentation on Pandit Ravi Shankar, featuring portions of live performances as well as him speaking about his music and his approach to both tradition and innovation.
Rabindranath Tagore / Director: Satyajit Ray (51:24 min / 1961 / B&W)
This is a film biography on the life of poet Rabindranth Tagore, prepared with the help of live shots, sketches, photographs and a dramatic impersonation of his early life. Here we see the career of one of the most outstanding geniuses of the century being unfolded in different fields of art-as a poet, as a painter, as a rebel and as an educational reformer through the various phases of growth, maturity and ultimate flowering.
Not Every Time | 04-Nov-15
Language: Punjabi, Hindi with English subtitles
Duration: 59 min.
Director: Daljit Ami
Not Every Time is a definitive account of a mass movement that the rape and murder of a college student spurred in 1997 in Punjab. The film traces the various personal and political struggles the leaders and participants of the movement experienced as a result of their involvement. The movement, involving thousands of participants, continues in different forms and the film is a fitting testimony to this remarkable tale which has gone unnoticed by mainstream national media houses. It highlights not just the violent reaction of a patriarchal society but also lays threadbare the gender hierarchies within the movement.
This film was screened in the film festival Signs 2007 in competition section and Karimpur Film Festival 2008 apart from innumerable screenings in colleges and villages where it has invariably provoked intense discussion and debate.
Documentary film maker, columnist, translator and journalist, Daljit Ami is one of the foremost chroniclers of contemporary Punjab. He holds Master’s degrees in Ancient History, Archaeology & Culture and Communications. His journalistic career includes editorial stints at some of the leading media organisations of the region (Punjabi Tribune, Day and Night News, Global Punjab TV) and his reportage and commentaries have appeared in key publications in three languages including Outlook, BBC Hindi, Economic and Political Weekly, Dainik Bhasker and most of the mainstream Punjabi publications including Nawa Zamana and Punjab Times. Having entered the media at the time when Punjab was emerging from violence and insurgency, Dalijt has an insider’s understanding of the way Punjab has been projected in mainstream media. His body of work – in text and images – invites us to think about Punjab outside of popular stereotypes and formulaic analysis. His films have documented issues, events, movements and people who fall outside the lens of mainstream media – the lives of agricultural labour and human rights activists; movements against ecological degradation and sexual violence; conservation of history and memory; and Punjabi literature and poetry. His forthright columns and reportage hold a mirror to the global Punjabi community. Despite the focus on Punjab, his work steers clear of narrow localism and forges critical, political and aesthetic connections with international struggles for justice.
The film screening will take place at IIHS Bengaluru City Campus on 4th November at 6.30 p.m. Details are also available on Facebook.
This event is open to all and entry is free. Do spread the word.
Kapila | 13-Nov-15
Kapila is an actor-performer of Kutiyattam, one of the oldest forms of theatre, originating in Kerala, whose acting style is based on hand movements and facial expressions. Sanju Surendran composes a dreamlike and abstract portrait, focused on the sensorial universe of a hyper-contemporary vestal committed to a thousand-year-old practice.
Sanju Surendran is a National Award winning Filmmaker whose films have been exhibited all over the world in various film festivals. He has created signature films for film festivals and collaborated on fiction works with major writers. His worldview is inspired by the ideas of Mani Kaul and Indian Aesthetics. He is a graduate in Film Direction from the Film and TV Institute of India.
Conversations at the Kumbh Mela | 22-Dec-15
Millions of people congregate for two months in the fifty-eight square kilometre area on the bed of the Ganga at Allahabad to celebrate in the Kumbh Mela. In the chaos, many get lost and most are reunited with their families every day. Hundreds of religious and spiritual leaders pontificate to the gathered multitudes, as naga babas very often steal the show. This is the story of the Kumbh.
This film is an attempt to capture the essence of the experiential aspects of being in that space, at that time on the banks of the Ganga. It hopes to put spirit back into ancient, mythological stories handed down for generations, and dismiss the idea of faith as being merely a collection of uninformed and blind rituals.
Above the din echoed by the matrix of loudspeakers, you hear stories and afar from the crowds, you grow closer to faith. When you are but one drop in the sea of people, you realise how little you are. It is only when you are lost in the biggest gathering of people on earth, do you discover the Kumbh anew. Such are the paradoxes offered by the Maha Kumbhmela as you float from one experience to the next, drift from one story to the next.
Videokaaran | 23-Jan-14
Dir: Jagannathan Krishnan
Screening on 23rd January, 2014 at 6.00 pm at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus.
Cinema can help you better your life, film stars can give you moral and spiritual messages that can uplift you. Sagai believes this. Sagai is a film buff and his idol is South Indian Superstar Rajnikanth. He grew up watching films in a semi legal video parlour in the Mumbai slums. When he came of age he started working in the same place as didhis father before him. The video theatre no longer exists. In a charming, eloquent and often politically incorrect street speak, he shares the story of his video theatre alongside his trip with films.
Nirnay | 26-Feb-14
Anupama Srinivasan and Pushpa Rawat
Screening on 26th February, 2014 at 6.00 pm at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus.
The film is Pushpa’s personal journey as she tries to make sense of her own life, and that of her women friends. Set in a lower middle class neighbourhood in the outskirts of Delhi, it explores the lives of women, who are young, educated and bright, but who feel bound and helpless when it comes to taking any major decision regarding their life, be it career or marriage. By following the lives of the women over three years, the film documents the changes in their lives and tries to capture the essence of their existence, at times through conversations, and at others by simply observing their seemingly innocuous everyday routines.
Stir. Fry. Simmer. | 21-Mar-14
Dir: Vani Subramanian
Screening on 21st March, 2014 at 6.00 pm at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus.
In newspapers, on news channels and in our everyday trips to the market, we are constantly confronted with rising food prices, colossal wastage of food by the State, compromised policies on food security, and other such failures and fractures around food. Yet flipping across the same television channels or newspapers, we could find ourselves lulled into countless conversations on food as art, eating as excess, debates on dieting, cuisines as travel, and even cooking as a ticket to a successful future.
Standing in the midst of it all, not completely insulated from these worlds, and yet, not completely embedded, is our own kitchen. A place where love is often served up with equal portions of routinised cooking. The place where anecdotes heard and experiences lived, forever flavour what we eat, and how we remember eating it. The place where our taste buds learn to flower to the familiar. Conversely of course, our kitchen are also the very place where we learn what food and practices are not ours, separating the edible from inedible, the desired from despised, the irresistible from unacceptable.
As we carry these sensibilities to the outside world, we think our responses to food are ‘instinctive’… but are they? Where does my plate end, and yours begin? Are we what we eat, or do we, in fact, eat what we are?
These are just some of the delightful (and not so delightful questions) that STIR. FRY. SIMMER, a film by Vani Subramanian stirs up as it talk about food, memory, nostalgia, belonging, family, community, nation, alienation, desire and disgust, politics, prejudice and power.
Surviving Progress | 25-Apr-14
Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks
Dir: Mathieu Roy & Harold Crooks
Screening on 25th April, 2014 at 6.00 pm at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus.
Surviving Progress presents the story of human advancement as awe-inspiring and double-edged. It reveals the grave risk of running the 21st century’s software — our know-how — on the ancient hardware of our primate brain which hasn’t been upgraded in 50,000 years. With rich imagery and immersive soundtrack, filmmakers Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks launch us on journey to contemplate our evolution from cave-dwellers to space explorers.
Surviving Progress brings us thinkers who have probed our primate past, our brains, and our societies. Some amplify Wright’s urgent warning, while others have faith that the very progress which has put us in jeopardy is also the key to our salvation. Cosmologist Stephen Hawking looks to homes on other planets. Biologist Craig Venter, whose team decoded the human genome, designs synthetic organisms he hopes will create artificial food and fuel for all.
Bottle Masala in Moile | 21-May-14
Descendants of the indigenous populations of Mumbai, the East Indian community originated from diverse local groups such as farmers, fishing people, toddy tappers, salt pan workers and others. Several of them were agriculturalists working on land that they also owned.
Today, as owners of ancestral property in a city that is developing at an aggressive pace, the community finds itself rapidly losing land to government and corporate forces. For the community as a whole, this has meant losing a valuable connection with the soil to which their culture is tied- the ‘story of us’. But for many, especially those in the rural areas this has also meant a threat to livelihood and consequently, as a small community, a threat to their very existence.
‘Bottle Masala in Moile’ focuses on a few of these stories. The film is divided into two thematically interconnected but dramatically discrete chapters. ‘Belly of the Whale,’ based in mainland Mumbai, is a collection of individual stories loosely held together by a common thread, that of the experience of loss. ‘Eye of the Storm,’ is set in Dharavi Island, and is driven by the narrative of the community’s resistance movement against land acquisition.
Had Anhad | 27-Jun-14
Had-Anhad: Journeys with Ram and Kabir
Kabir was a 15th century mystic poet of north India who defied the boundaries between Hindu and Muslim. He had a Muslim name and upbringing, but his poetry repeatedly invokes the widely revered Hindu name for God – Ram. Who is Kabir’s Ram? This film journeys through song and poem into the politics of religion, and finds a myriad answers on both sides of the hostile border between India and Pakistan.
About Shabnam Virmani
Shabnam is a filmmaker and artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru, India. In 2003 she started travelling with folk singers in Malwa, Rajasthan and also Pakistan in a quest for the spiritual and socio-political resonances of the 15th century mystic poet Kabir in our contemporary worlds. Among the tangible outcomes of these journeys were a series of 4 musical documentary films, several music CDs and books of the poetry in translation. Currently she is working on creating a web-archive of Kabir and other mystic, Sufi and Bhakti poetry & music. She continues to journey and draw inspiration not only from Kabir, but also other mystic poets of the sub-continent and the oral folk traditions that carry them to us (www.kabirproject.org).
Her earlier work consisted of several video and radio programs created in close partnership with grassroots women’s groups in India. She has directed several award-winning documentaries and radio programs in close partnership with grassroots women’s groups in India. In 1990, she co-founded the Drishti Media, Arts and Human Rights collective in Ahmedabad.
Her work with the Kabir Project was recently awarded the Chishti Harmony Award in December 2013, for contributing to communal harmony and inter-faith understanding the country.
Inspired by the inclusive spirit of folk music, Shabnam took up playing the 5-stringed tambura herself and now sings a wide repertoire of folk songs of Kabir and other mystic poets.
Cotton for my Shroud | 09-Jul-14
Kavita Bahl and Nandan Saxena
Since 1995, a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide – the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history. Most of them were cotton farmers from Vidarbha in Maharashtra. You need iron in your soul to walk through the villages in this region. Once known for its fine cotton, it is now called the ‘graveyard of farmers’.
‘Cotton for my Shroud’ tries to understand from a grass-roots perspective what is driving cotton farmers in India to despair – is it just a crisis of farm credit or are they victims of faulty paradigms of development. The testimonies of farmers and scientists expose the myopic policies of the Indian Government and their collusion with multinational corporations. The aggressive marketing of supposedly ‘better varieties’ of transgenic crops by the multinationals under the benign gaze of the State, entices the poor farmer. Abandoning his traditional wisdom of low-cost, sustainable agriculture, the farmer ultimately lands up in the honey trap of Bt. The Indian state has created conditions that are not conducive to the survival of small farmers. They want them to go, just as the small farmers disappeared in the west.
‘Cotton for my shroud’ was shot over two visits to the hinterlands of Vidarbha. Narrated in the first person, from the p.o.v of the film-makers, the film looks at the macro picture while following the lives of three families.
About the Directors
Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl work in the genres of documentary and poetry films. Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights. After their Masters in English Literature from the University of Delhi, they did a diploma in journalism. Thereafter, Kavita worked for ‘ The Indian Express’ for seven years and Nandan worked for the audio-visual media, doing News and Current affairs programming, in what they call their previous life.
They turned a new leaf in 1996, as independent film-makers. Their films explore man’s relationship with his environment through many windows- cultural, political and anthropo-botanical. Their voluntary initiative ‘Via-Media’ is an effort to catalyse change by taking positive stories to receptive minds, and to build the capacity of citizens groups and movements. They take workshops to initiate inquisitive minds into film-making and photography. They are visiting faculty in the Department of Culture and Media Studies, Central University of Rajasthan.
Nandan is also an avid photographer. In 2009, he had a 30-day solo exhibition of his photographs at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. They have hosted a workshop on DSLR-filmmaking in partnership with Canon and Embrace Video during the Vatavaran Film Festival in December 2011; and another workshop on DSLR Filmmaking during the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF-2012) in February 2012.
Quarter number 4/11 | 03-Sep-14
The film, “Quarter Number 4/11” is a ground zero perspective of urban real estate development, as witnessed by director/cinematographer Ranu Ghosh and narrated through the plight of an ex-factory worker Shambhu Prasad Singh, a victim of this development in Calcutta’s South City, a residential complex-cum-shopping mall-cum-school for the wealthy. It is about one man’s lone, long, losing fight to hold on to his ground where he was born, grew up and earned his living. It is the narrative of a man who is being forced to evacuate his ground to make space for ‘development’.
The film, “Quarter number 4/11” is a low angle, ground zero perspective of development, as seen by somebody who is being crushed under its weight. It is one man’s lone, long, losing fight to hold on to his ground where he was born, grew up and earned his living. It’s the narrative of a man who is being forced to evacuate his ground to make space for ‘development’.
First Cry | 28-Oct-14
This is the story of a remarkable hospital in the mining township of Dalli-Rajhara Chattisgarh known as Shahid (Martyrs) Hospital. The hospital was paid for and built by the voluntary labour of daily-wage contract miners and successfully provides modern health care to workers, adivasis and the poor. The Film reveals the history of its making, key turning points of the hospital and the experiences of the doctors and worker- paramedics who manage this oasis of hope.
About the director
Actively involved in local politics since his school days, Ajay T.G. is a filmmaker and a human rights activist. Currently, he is the Joint Secretary for the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties. He has also been working as research assistant to social anthropologists on projects related to industrialisation, artisans, caste and labour. Between 1999 and 2002, Ajay was trained in all aspects of film production at the European Union-sponsored film training Diploma course in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh. Ajay’s film Living Memory was screened at the South Asian Documentaries and Films Festival, King’s College, and the Cambridge South Asia Forum, Cambridge, UK, 2003. He is also a photographer- his photo-exhibition, Potters in Chhattisgarh was hosted at Shepherd’s Bush Public Library and Hammersmith Public Library, London.
Water and a City | 04-Jan-13
How much water does a person need? Who ensures that this need is met? Is there enough water for everybody? With growing urbanisation across India, many towns and cities are crying for more water. Is the shortage due to a lack of resources or due to poor management? Located in Bengaluru, the film Water and a City, traces the journey of water into and out of urban homes. Along this journey, it looks at access to water for the poor, the politics of water pricing, urban India’s continuous exploitation of natural resources, and explores possible alternatives for a sustainable water future.
Lightning Testimonies | 18-Jan-13
Why is one image different from the other? Why does an image seem to contain many secrets? What can release them so as to suddenly connect with many unknown lives?
The Lightning Testimonies reflects upon a history of conflict in the Indian subcontinent through experiences of sexual violence. As the film explores this violence, there emerge multiple submerged narratives, sometimes in people, images and memories, and at other times in objects from nature and everyday life that stand as silent but surviving witnesses. In all narratives the body becomes central – as a site for honour, hatred and humiliation and also for dignity and protest.
As the stories unfold, women from different times and regions come forward. The film speaks to them directly, trying to understand how such violence is resisted, remembered and recorded by individuals and communities. Narratives hidden within a blue window or the weave of a cloth appear, disappear and are then reborn in another vocabulary at another time. Using a range of visual vocabularies the film moves beyond suffering into a space of quiet contemplation, where resilience creates a potential for transformation.
So Heddan So Hoddan | 01-Feb-13
Anjali Monteiro and KP Jayasankar
Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, a medieval Sufi poet, is an iconic figure in the cultural history of Sindh. Bhitai’s Shah Ji Risalo is a remarkable collection of poems which are sung by many communities in Kachchh and across the border in Sindh (now in Pakistan). Many of the poems draw on the eternal love stories of Umar-Marui and Sasui-Punhu, among others. These songs speak of the pain of parting, of the inevitability of loss and of deep grief that takes one to unknown and mysterious terrains.
Umar Haji Suleiman of Abdasa, in Kachchh, Gujarat, is a self taught Sufi scholar; once a cattle herder, now a farmer, he lives his life through the poetry of Bhitai. Umar’s cousin, Mustafa Jatt sings the Bheths of Bhitai. He is accompanied on the Surando, by his cousin Usman Jatt. Usman is a truck driver, who owns and plays one of the last surviving Surandos in the region. The Surando is a peacock shaped, five-stringed instrument from Sindh. The film explores the life worlds of the three cousins, their families and the Fakirani Jat community to which they belong.
Before the Partition the Maldhari (pastoralist) Jatts moved freely across the Rann, between Sindh (now in Pakistan) and Kutch. As pastoral ways of living have given way to settlement, borders and industrialisation, the older generation struggles to keep alive the rich syncretic legacy of Shah Bhitai, that celebrates diversity and non-difference, suffering and transcendence, transience and survival. These marginal visions of negotiating difference in creative ways resist cultural politics based on tight notions of nation-state and national culture; they open up the windows of our national imaginary.
O Friend, This Waiting! | 03-Mar-13
Sandhya Kumar and Justin McCarthy
Could a song be full of love, and yet banal and trifling? Such were the love songs written by a poet musician Kshetrayya, to be performed by the dancing courtesans at the royal courts of 17th century South India. His love songs, known as ‘padams’ became the most cherished of the devadasi’s songs of love. Through the history these love songs, known as padams, the film ‘O Friend, this Waiting!’ constructs a possible social and cultural history of the devadasis. While visually the film dwells in the performative spaces of the 17th century temples and courts, the narrative explores the politics of modernism and marginalization that erased the devadasi from the collective public conscience.
Bidesia in Bambai | 25-Sep-13
IIHS screens Bidesia in Bambai (Dir: Surabhi Sharma), A ground-breaking film on Bhojpuri music that migrants produce, perform and circulate to stay connected to the home they have left behind, and to make their presence visible in the city that is home for now.
IIHS Bengaluru City Campus, Running time: 86 minutes
The Human Factor | 25-Oct-13
Songs have been an integral part of Indian films. The singers, the music directors, the lyricists – they have all been celebrated for their work and many have attained legendary status. But who were those unseen – and uncredited – musicians who made up the orchestras that played on those songs and the background scores? ‘The Human Factor’ tells the fascinating story of the Lords, a Parsi family of musicians who collectively worked for over 60 years in Mumbai’s film orchestras. But the story of the Lords is not theirs alone. It also remains a crucial but obscure chapter in the history of Indian cinema. In the centenary year of Indian cinema, this documentary – replete with rare archival material – will provide viewers with a subaltern history of Bollywood.
Kya hua is sheher ko | 20-Nov-13
Screening on 20th November, 2013 at 5.30 pm at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus. The filmmaker will be present for the discussion after the screening of the film.
Kya hua is shahar ko? has been digitalised, restored and screened again for the first time in 27 years as part of the “Living Archive” project. A DVD including additional historical and contemporary material was released in June 2013.
About the Director
Deepa Dhanraj is a writer, director, and producer living in Bengaluru, South India. She studied English Literature in Madras University. She has produced and directed numerous an award-winning documentaries, ”Something Like a War “ (Channel 4); “The Legacy of Malthus” (BBC 2); “Sudesha” (Faust Film/ARD). “Nari Adalat/Women’s Courts “and “What HasHappened to This City? “.The films have been screened on ARTE, CBC, and SBS. Her films have been invited to festivals such as IDFA, Berlinale, Leipzig, Oberhausen, and Films de Femmes, Creteil France, Tampere, Vancouver and Chicago. She has a special interest in education and has created special video materials to address challenges faced by first generation learners.
Ratrace | 12-Dec-13
The Rat Race’ winds its way through the grimy underbelly of Mumbai, through dimly lit alleys and crowded markets to tell the story of the city’s rat killers. Home to 14 million people and 84 million rats competing for the same space and resources! ‘The Rat Race’ is a moving true life account of the city’s rat killers who set out every night armed with a torch and stick to bring back the carcasses of 30 rats. As the rat killer stalks the sidewalks of Mumbai above him looms chrome buildings that are the landscape of the future and below him are trails of garbage and refuse. To earn his daily wage and secure a brighter future for his children, he wages the most primitive battle between man and animal with the most basic of implements. Why such gruesome methods? Would not fumigation or poison be more humane? But how does one fumigate spaces swarming with rats and humanity? And how does one use poison where rodents and people forage for food?
Presence | 26-Oct-12
Ekta Mittal and Yashaswini Raghunandan
Presence, stories of ghosts as narrated by workers building the city of Bengaluru. The film was partially produced by Centre national des arts Plastiques, Palais De Tokyo, Paris. Presence screened at Intense Proximity-Le triennale, Palais De Tokyo, 55th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film , VideoEx, Tate Modern Art Gallery, BMW Guggenheim Lab in Mumbai, Viennale 2013, Doppelgänger-Werkleitz Festival 2014, Cobalt, a building under-construction in Bengaluru and Bayappanhalli Labour colony.
Coding Culture | 26-Oct-12
A series of three films that explores the diverse cultures of work in Bengaluru’s software outsourcing industry:
_x000B_The ‘M’ Way: Time + People = Money (30 min)
Fun@Sun: Making of a Global Workplace (32 min)
July Boys: New Global Players (30 min).
Each film is set inside a single company. The films are ethnographic and observational in nature. Separately and together, they provide a rare glimpse into the new global workplaces that are materialising in post-liberalisation India.
Mera Apna Shehar | 09-Nov-12
“The experience of a gendered urban landscape – where the gaze, the voice and the body are at all times under surveillance. What if the multiple surveillances were to be turned upon themselves to observe what is contained in the everyday. The film explores whether there is a sense of ownership, of belonging to the city. Can a woman in the city, – as she continuously negotiates the polarities of anxiety and comfort – be free? Somewhere just under the surface of the `normal’ and in the lives of women cab drivers lie signs of reclamation of space and the gaze.”
Invoking Justice | 23-Nov-12
In southern India, family disputes are dealt with by the local Jamaat, an Islamic advisory panel consisting exclusively of men that investigates and negotiates with families, the police, and the judiciary. At no point are women part of the process. Even when a woman is a central figure in the case, she will be represented by men, and judgments frequently disfavor women. In 2004, a group of courageous women set up their own Jamaat group to act for women. The filmmaker follows them as they tackle a number of complex family conflicts, varying from a request for divorce to murder cases. When translating at a women’s conference in 1988, the panel’s founder Sharifa Khanam was astonished when she heard the discussions about women’s rights. “I had thought fathers and brothers had the right to hit us. And that we had to obey them. Then I understood: I can think for myself.” Nowadays, Sharifa and her members head their meetings with confidence. Filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj visits families at home together with the women from the Jamaat. Her camera records how they use their understanding of the issues and the Koran and their sense of humanity to attempt to work with families, male Jamaat members, and police – despite prejudice, opposition, and rampant corruption.
Q2P | 11-Dec-12
Who is dreaming up the global city? Q2P peers through the dream of Mumbai as a future Shanghai and finds…public toilets… not enough of them. As this film observes who has to queue to pee, we begin to understand the imagination of gender that underlies the city’s shape and the constantly shifting boundaries between public and private space. We meet whimsical people with novel ideas of social change, which thrive with mixed results. We learn of small acts of survival that people in the city’s bottom half cobble together. In the Museum of Toilets, at a night concert, in a New Delhi “international toilet”, in a Bombay slum, we hear the silence that surrounds toilets and sense how similar it is to the silence that surrounds inequality. The toilet becomes a riddle with many answers and some of those answers are questions – about gender, about class, about caste and most of all about space, urban development and the twisted myth of the global metropolis.
Vertical City | 21-Dec-12
Avijit Mukul Kishore
In a far suburb of Bombay, residents from slums are moved into high-rise apartment complexes with the promise of a better life. While these complexes are built allegedly to house the poor, they have been seen as moves to free prime slum land for commercial development. The complexes soon degenerate into places worse than slums. The film lets the viewer experience the living conditions of places hidden away in a 21st century metropolis.