Urban Lens Film Festival | Travelling Package 

The Urban Lens Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind international film festival that brings together filmmakers, academics and urban practitioners to dialogue with each other on cinema and the urban experience. Curated by the IIHS Media Lab, the festival has presented 174 films from various genres from 35 countries in 30 languages.

A travelling package of nine films has been put together along with conversations with the filmmakers and a Masterclass, in order to reach out to the student community to create a space for reflection and spark critical discussions about cinema and the nature of the urban experience. The first package is hosted in association with The Department of English and Cultural Studies, BGR Campus, Christ University and Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan.

The films are diverse in their genre, form and story-telling, but the search to explore what the urban experience is, unites these films. They explore different facets of what the city produces – whether political, social, economic or cultural. These films frame cities beyond their skylines by teasing out individual and collective stories and experiences of people from around the world. 

The films will be available online from 9 August to 20 August 2021 to all students and faculty who register. The conversations with filmmakers and the Masterclass will be held on Zoom between 16 August and 20 August 2021.


Director: Uli Gaulke
Country: Germany
Year: 2013
Languages: Mandarin
Run time: 90 mins


Shanghai’s Peace Old Jazz Band has been performing together since 1980, but the group’s members have been playing much longer than that. Aged between 65 and 87 years, many of them have been playing jazz since the 1940s and have seen the world transform. From the Japanese occupation and the Cultural Revolution to capitalism on overdrive, the band members have seen the many faces of China and withstood the government’s suspicions of jazz. Through ages of political upheaval they never lost their faith and belief in their music. Now comes one of their biggest challenges: each year Rotterdam hosts the North Sea Jazz Festival and this year, Peace Old Jazz plans to make the trip. Follow them and director Uli Gaulke as they make the hopeful journey to win the love of the festival’s audiences.

Director’s Bio
Writer, Director born 1968 in Schwerin

1989 – 1995 Studies of Physics at Humboldt University Berlin and Informatik at Technische Universität Berlin, studies of theatre science at FU Berlin
1992 – 1999 Projectionst in the various cinemas in berlin / founder of the cinema BALASZ (1994)
1995 – 2003 studies of directing at Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen “Konrad Wolf”
since 1999 director/author Film + TV
2001 Winner of the German Film Price „LOLA“ for the Best Documentary with HAVANNA MI AMOR
2007 Grand Jury Prize Nomination SUNDANCE for COMRADES IN DREAMS
since 2006 Member of the German Film Academy
since 2007 Teacher for masterclasses in Bolivia, India, Russia, Germany, North Korea, Vietnam
2010 Member of the Masterclass 3D FILMMAKING AND STORYTELLING of the European Film Academy with Alain Derobe (3D Supervisor of PINA by Wim Wenders)
2012 Film Retrospective Moskau
2018 Fellowship ARTIST IN RESIDENCE in Hong Kong

A film about the senior home of HOLLYWOOD, shooted in Hollywood, LA (2018)

In Production /Pre Production

Director: Shreyas Dasharathe
Country: India
Year: 2017
Languages: Gujarati
Run time: 26 mins

A house gives us a sense of belonging. It envelopes us and protects us. It is a symbol of the time, the culture, and the beings that it inhabits. A house has a unique identity, like a living, breathing being. Each one different, with its own perks and glitches. “Bismaar Ghar (Withering House)” is an observational piece about Maheshbhai, Tarunaben, Ganpatbhai and their house. Living in a hundred year old house for the past 20 years in the heart of Ahmedabad, they have decided to move on to a new apartment they got under the Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme. With changing times and circumstances, are are moving towards a strange kind of uniformity under the shadow of ‘urbanism’ and ‘development’? Or our traditional structures are failing to cater our needs anymore? All these questions are visible in our most personal embodiment – our house.

Director’s Bio
Shreyas Dasharathe comes from the city of Pune and is a graduate from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. He has worked as a feature film assistant director, short film club curator and content writer in the past. His first short documentary Bismaar Ghar (2017) has been awarded at some of the prestigious Indian film festivals and has been part of screenings at reputed international film festivals as well. He currently works with different forms of the medium ranging from narratives, documentaries to experimental and brand films. He is interested in exploring cinema and its form in entirety and hopes to pursue cinema as an art form rather than just a storytelling tool.


Director: Ekta Mittal & Yashaswini BR
Country: India
Year: 2014
Languages: Hindi, English
Run time: 38 mins

A faraway village set amidst a growing metropolis where workers narrate stories of love and longing.

Distance, is part of Behind the Tin Sheets, a film-based project, which started in 2009. The project uses video and other related media to engage with the changing landscape of Bangalore. It is an account of stories and experiences with ghosts, love and labour as narrated by migrant workers, to contemplate the the strait between the real and the fictional.

Director’s Bio
Yashaswini Raghunandan works with both film and sound to build narratives in the form of docu-fiction as a way to think about the present. She finished her artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in 2019. She is also a recipient of the INLAKS scholarship to study abroad at the Royal College of Art, London in Sound Art and Design (IED). In 2019 she made her first feature film ‘That cloud never left,’ which was premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (Bright Future Competition) and won awards at Sharjah Film Platform (Best Experimental Documentary Film); Golden FILAF at Festival of Art and Film, Prepignan, France; Special Mention at 55th International New Cinema Show, Pesaro, Italy, and at Kasseler DokFest.’ This Hole is a Half-Dream of a Dune,’ is her first solo show on exhibit at an artist-run space Marwan, Amsterdam. She and Ekta Mittal collaborated and directed films with Behind the Tin Sheets Project between 2009-2013. Distance is their second film which won the Golden Dove at Dok-Leipzig in 2012.

Ekta Mittal co-founded Maraa, a media and arts collective in Bangalore (www.maraa.in ) in 2008. She works there as a practitioner, researcher, curator and facilitator around issues of gender, labour & caste in rural and urban contexts. She also works with creative practices in public space, through independent production and collaborations with other artists. Shealso makes films around labour,migration and cities since 2009. Her films on migration are under the film project called Behind the Tinsheets. (www.tinsheets.in)


Director: Kislay
Country: India
Year: 2013
Languages: Hindi
Run time: 31 mins

Kamla works as a full time maid in Raj and Simran’s house. Simran is affectionate and regularly showers Kamla with gifts and old clothes. In this ‘modern’ home, there is no obvious violence and hierarchies but, as Kamla slowly realizes, it is hidden behind caring words and gestures of love.

When Pihu, Kamla’s younger sister, arrives such underlying tensions come to the fore and Kamla is forced to take a decision.
The film attempts to understand a class relationship in an atmosphere of love and affection. Here, the violence is not physical but structural, part of everyday actions and words.

Director’s Bio
Kislay’s debut feature length film Aise Hee (Just Like That) premiered in New Currents, Busan International Film Festival, 2019 and received special mention.

Kislay has also made three shorts and co wrote the acclaimed film Soni which debuted in the Venice film festival in the year 2018. He is an alumnus of Film and Television Institute of India. Hamare Ghar was his first short film.

Director: Daphna Awadish
Country: Israel
Year: 2015
Languages: English, Spanish, Hebrew
Run time: 9 mins


While abroad, I spoke with many immigrants who discussed their experiences and feelings about moving to a different country. Their stories were unique, but they all contained longings for their homeland intertwined with curiosity and delight in their new home. The movie relates a visual and cinematic commentary, in which people appear as a hybrid between man and bird.

Director’s Bio
Daphna Awadish is an Israeli filmmaker and illustrator living in Amsterdam. She specialized in creating animated documentaries and works as an independent illustrator and animator.

Her last two short films ‘Journey Birds’ and ‘Bear with Me’ were screened at several international festivals and won a number of awards such as the Best Animation Award- Jerusalem Film Festival and the Fantastic Award in Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film.

Having lived in different countries herself, Daphna explores the meaning of ‘home’ in her work and is currently developing a new animated documentary funded by the Dutch film fund. She uses mixed media to portray personal narratives in a unique and intimate manner. Daphna graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (BA) and from AKV St. Joost Master Institute of Visual Cultures (MA). She is also a curator of different programs for film festivals and leads creative workshops.

Director: Rohan Shivkumar
Country: India
Year: 2018
Languages: Hindi
Run time: 32 mins


Every house is haunted by the spirits of those are yet to come, and of those that came before. We are all marked by the architecture of the homes we live in.

‘Lovely Villa’ is the name of the apartment building where the filmmaker grew up in as he studied to become an architect. It is in LIC colony designed by Charles Correa and represents an imagination of the ideal community for a modern India. The masterplan and architecture see an articulation of the ideal environment to live as imagined for the new Indian middle classes, with its focus on creating the possibility for housing different communities and classes within one building. It included a hierarchy of open spaces where different kinds of interaction could take place. The apartment buildings had unusual floor plans and open to sky terraces where kitchen gardens could be grown.

The filmmaker’s parents moved into this colony in the early 1970s and lived there for over 40 years. The film explores the architecture of the colony through a personal narrative. Using found materials, like old photographs and drawings, and stories that range from family histories and other narratives, both semi-fictional and documentary, the film highlights some of the specific architectural gestures of the project.

This is a film about the relationship between architecture, everyday life, family, coming of age, desire, and the memory of ‘home’.

Director’s Bio

Rohan Shivkumar is an architect, urban designer and filmmaker practicing in Mumbai. He is the Dean of Research and Academic Development at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture, Mumbai. His work ranges from architecture, urban research and consultancy projects to works in film and visual art. He is interested in issues concerning housing, public space and in exploring the many ways of reading and representing the city. He is the co-editor of the publication ‘Project Cinema City’, an interdisciplinary research and art project. He curates film programmes and writes on cinema, architecture and urban issues. Shivkumar has written and co-directed two films – ‘Nostalgia for the future’ (2017) and ‘Squeeze Lime in Your Eye’ (2018). ‘Lovely Villa – Architecture as Autobiography’ is his first film as director.

Director: Mitali Trivedi and Gagandeep Singh
Country: India
Year: 2018
Languages: Hindi
Run time: 20 mins


Delhi meets at the metro. The snaking lines of the tube connect the whole city.

Passengers board from different places but for a brief moment in time they are all headed in the same direction. We share one such ride with our co-traveller Anshuman, a transman. As the stations pass, we begin to look at the metro space from his perspective. His is the story of reclaiming public space and one’s own self. The doors will open on the quest. Please mind the gap.

Director’s Bio
Mitali Trivedi has a Master’s in Gender Studies from Ambedkar University, Delhi, and is a research scholar at the Department of Sociology, University of Delhi. She is involved in theatre and has been working with Abhigyan Natya Association – a theatre organisation for over half a decade.

Gagandeep Singh is a lawyer and a theatre practitioner. He is deeply interested in the historical evolution of laws and holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law.


Director: Gitanjali Rao
Country: India
Year: 2006
Run time: 15 mins


Outside it rains, on a city of skyscrapers, the greys linger mournfully on every daily scene, busy roads, tired mothers and little children who have no place to play. Meanwhile an old woman and her cat rummage through their collection of match- boxes. Together they escape into a world of color, and travel to distant lands and distant times, racing with the wind and skipping on the bright horizons of a village dawn. Riding happily on a printed rainbow. Influenced by the vibrant folk art styles of India, Gitanjali Rao explores the theme of magical realism through the medium of animation. The film tells a story of the dreariness of urban life and the escape into an imagined world of curiosity and color.

Director’s Bio
Gitanjali Rao is the writer and Director of Bombay Rose, an animated feature film that opened the VENICE CRITICS’ WEEK 2019, followed by Toronto IFF, Busan IFF, Macao IFF and Marrakech IFF among others .Her début feature film has since been to over 50 international festivals in 2019-20. The film won seven awards including the Silver Hugo at the 53 rd Chicago Intl Film Fest and Silver Gateway at MAMI, Mumbai International Film Fest. It is now available on Netflix.

Gitanjali emerged into the international stage with the animated short film ‘Printed Rainbow’ which premièred and won three awards in CANNES CRITICS’ WEEK, 2006. The film made it to the OSCAR shortlist in 2008 and won 25 awards. A self-taught animator and filmmaker, Gitanjali has independently produced seven animated short films which have been to over 150 International film festivals and received more than 30 awards. They have been showcased in international art biennials in India, Poland and USA. Her latest short animation, “Tomorrow My Love” will have its World premier at the 74 th Locarno Film Festival 2021.

Her body of work includes animated commercials, pre-production for animated features, logo-motions, as well as graphic novels and illustrated stories. She has been part of the jury for several international film festivals including Cannes Critics’ Week 2011. She is also an actor and débuted in Shoojit Sircar’s Hindi film ‘October’ which won her 5 nominations for Best Supporting Actor including the FilmFare Award.

Director: Yang Wang
Country: China
Year: 2017
Languages: Mandarin
Run time: 93 mins


In 2016, the last textile weaving factory from the communist era in North-West China was demolished. “Weaving” follows two textile worker families during the five year demolition process as they struggle to adapt to outside change while trying to keep their families intact. Where old and new social values collide, their story allows us to take a closer look inside China’s changing family dynamic in an increasingly materialistic and complex society.

Director’s Bio

Yang Wang is a filmmaker from Xi’an, China. He has directed three independent feature documentaries focusing on China’s social changes through the eyes of the younger generation. His previous documentary “China Gate” (2011) was selected to screen at film festivals such as Leipzig, DMZ, and Zagreb Dox.

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