The three-day IIHS film festival ‘Urban Lens: A Festival of Films and the City’ is an attempt at looking how the ‘city’ has been seen in non-fiction films, and documentary filmmakers’ engagement with it over time . Even though the curated films that are part of the festival happen to be vastly different from each other, the underlying leitmotif is an effort to articulate the urban experience, either directly or tangentially. Each non-fiction film that is part of this festival will explore different facets of what the city produces – whether political, social, economic or cultural.
The films deal with wide-ranging concerns: from what evictions do to people, how women negotiate public spaces in a city, the politics of public toilets, to the culture productions that small and big urban centres give rise to ‘Urban Lens: A Festival of Films and the City’ seeks to bring together, as part of the same platform, the many voices that exist around the idea of the city in non-fiction films.
Bringing together a variety of non-fiction films across formal, historical, stylistic and political affiliations under a range of themes, the festival will engage with the proposition that non-fiction films can be a site from which newer provocations about the ‘urban’ can arise.
The panel discussions “The City in Non-Fiction” and “Codes of Non-Fiction” held on both days of the festival will add to the growing conversation on how Indian documentary filmmakers have engaged with the idea of the city in their own practice and have contributed to discussions around the idea of the city as a real and imagined space.
Our goal, through film screenings and panel discussions is for these conversations about the city to provide fresh impetus towards the effort to re-examine the relationship between the city and non-fiction films. Our deepest hope is that this will gesture towards a new speculative terrain from which another imagination of the city and cinema itself can flower.