1 – 6 December 2020
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.
The seventh edition of the festival will be hosted online from 1 – 6 December 2020, in association with the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan and the Danish Cultural Institute. Going online has expanded the possibilities of what the festival can offer and has created the opportunity for conversation and exchange of ideas across cities and countries bringing a richer discourse to the audience.
The festival will feature a special package of films called ‘Works of Art are Landscapes of the Mind‘ curated by eminent filmmaker, editor and curator Bina Paul and will screen films from across the globe spanning India, Brazil, Cambodia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Lebanon, Poland, Portugal, Senegal and the United Kingdom.
The festival will host two Masterclasses. One, with Anjali Menon, is on her practice as a director in and from south India and the role of collectives in creating equal spaces for women in the industry. The one with Dibakar Banerjee is about what his work has meant for the cinematic landscape in India, and how it has played a pivotal role in recreating a form of cinematic urbanism.
Since 2016, the Urban Lens Film festival has presented a series titled ‘On Practice‘ with film practitioners whose contribution comes together in the many layers that shape films. This year, the festival will host two panel discussions – one on reflections by cinematographers, of being women who work in a largely male-dominated field and one on the many cinemas of the north-east of India.
As always, the festival remains free.
This set of films together in their art and expression not only reveal the landscape of the minds of the artist but also of the characters. The films move through ideas of memory and its erasure, secrets, discovery of each other and contemplations of death.
Hector Babenco, an important filmmaker, filmed as he moved towards death (Babenco, tell me when I die). This was not a morbid journey but a celebration of his life. John Berger, one of the greatest thinkers of our time, is in conversation through the film The Seasons in Quincy structured around the four seasons in an absolutely inspired way of approaching a subject. “The film is a reflection of creation as a metaphor for human existence,” Ryan Steadman. While memory is an essential function of the human mind, the erasure of memory becomes a political tool and an existential question. The ravages of war remain in the psyche long after the physical is repaired. Ghassan Halwani, a Lebanese graphic artist in his debut feature examines how a nation’s collective memory shaves away one’s sense of past and present (Erased, Ascent of the Invisible). Félicité is ostensibly a realistic narrative about a single mother struggling to make ends meet. Shot by the well-known cinematographer Celine Bozon, her camera is organically connected to the characters and to Kinshasa, revealing the joys and lows of life. As Alain Gomis the Director says, “This is Kinshasa, this is our context, but I wanted everyone to be able to relate. It’s about trying to have a connection, an intimacy. In fact, the film is constructed like a blues song.” As the title suggests Correspondências is about communication. Based on the letters exchanged between Jorge de Sena and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, two major Portuguese poets of the 20th century. From 1959 to 1978, the letters chronicle the love found in friendship. Filmmaker Rita Gomes explores themes of isolation, exile and absence in this gentle reverie. Olmo and the Seagull directed by Petra Costa, Lea Glob is a journey through a woman’s mind drifting between fact and fiction.The film presents the pain, sorrow and conflict of a woman having to make a choice.
These films could probably alter the landscape of a viewer’s mind as all art is meant to do. At this moment when all the world hit by the pandemic is rebooting, perhaps this alteration is what will bring greater understanding, tolerance and joy.
3 December 2020 | 7:00 pm IST (01:30 pm GMT)
6 December 2020 | 7:00 pm IST (01:30 pm GMT)
4 December 2020 | 7:00 pm IST (01:30 pm GMT)
5 December 2020 | 7:00 pm IST (01:30 pm GMT)
2 + 5 = ?Please prove that you are human by solving the equation *
Bina Paul is an alumnus of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune in 1983. She has been working as a film editor for the last 30 years. Bina has worked with many leading filmmakers in India and has won several State and National Awards for Editing. Some of the films she has edited are Amma Ariyan, Agnisakshi, Janmadinam, Mitr, My Friend, Dance like a Man, In Othello and Daya Dir. She has worked as Senior Editor at the Center for the Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) for 10 years. She was also the Artistic Director of the International Film Festival of Kerala for the last fifteen years and was instrumental in making it one of the largest and most popular film festivals in Asia. Bina has served on film juries at numerous festivals including Berlin, Durban, Locarno, Romania and Zanzibar. She has also been involved with teaching at various institutes and is a regular guest faculty at FTII. She has mentored filmmakers at various international forums. Bina has been executive producer and directed documentary films on various issues including women’s sexual and reproductive rights, old age, and various educational campaigns. Currently Vice Chairperson of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy and Vice President on the NETPAC Executive Board, Bina lives and works in Trivandrum, Kerala.
After spending a decade in the corporate sector, Arundhati Ghosh joined IFA as its first fundraiser in 2001. She assumed office as the Executive Director on June 01, 2013. Arundhati has received recognition from several quarters for her work in the non-profit sector. In 2010 she received the Global Fundraiser Award from Resource Alliance International, the same year IFA won the ‘India NGO of the Year’ award. She is a recipient of the fellowship under Chevening Clore Leadership Awards in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2015-2016 and has worked with the National Theatre, UK to recommend a strategy for their national reach. She is also a recipient of the Chevening Gurukul Scholarship for Leadership and Excellence at the London School of Economics, London in 2005. Arundhati was selected as one of the top three leaders in the city of Bangalore under the ‘Lead India’ campaign of The Times of India in 2008. She is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar and also their facilitator for the Young Cultural Innovators programme.
She sits on various Boards and Advisory Panels including those of the Beyond Sight Foundation, Mumbai; The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, Kolkata; and The Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bangalore. She is a member of the Core Team that has put together a capacity building programme for theatre practitioners across the country in collaboration with Junoon, under the aegis of India Theatre Forum, called SMART (Strategic Management for the Art of Theatre). She often speaks and writes on arts and philanthropy for leading Indian and international non-profit and cultural networks including International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) and The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), Kultura Nova Foundation, among others.
Arundhati has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Presidency College, Kolkata and a postgraduate degree in Management from Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad. She also has a degree in classical dance and is a poet in Bangla.
Sophy is the co-founder and chief executive of the Indian Documentary Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that was founded with the aim to promote, and develop documentaries in India and about India. Sophy strategizes impact campaigns for documentary filmmakers, and helps raise funding for outreach activities. She also collaborates on CSR-led training workshops for social entrepreneurs and curates programs for film festivals. Sophy has successfully led the Good Pitch program in India. The third edition of Good Pitch India will be hosted by Indian Documentary Foundation in 2020.
Mr. V S Kundu is an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1986 batch, presently working as Additional Chief Secretary in the State of Haryana. He has a deep interest in cinema and other visual arts, and is a renowned photographer whose pictures have won a number of international and national awards. He worked as Director General of the Films Division of India, the premier State organisation for promotion of non-fiction cinema in India, at Mumbai from 2012 to 2015. During this time, he was also the Director of the Mumbai International Film Festival, India’s premier film festival for documentary, animation and short films. He produced over 200 documentary films during his tenure, and Films Division of India won a dozen international and over 20 National awards during his tenure. He also served as the Vice-Chancellor of the State University of Performing and Visual Arts at Rohtak, which runs a prestigious graduation program in cinema and other visual arts. He chaired the Film Policy Committee of the State of Haryana, which formulated the innovative film policy of the State adopted in January 2019. He has been associated with many film festivals as jury and resource-person, and is also a patron of the Shimla International Film Festival held annually at Shimla. His engagement with documentary filmmakers in India continues at different fora, and he is in the process of setting up an online, not-for-profit, platform to support independent filmmakers and technical cinema resources in India.
Disha is the CEO of Chambal Media, a company that produces media for rural audiences, with a unique rural feminist voice. Chambal Media runs the iconic news brand, Khabar Lahariya. She has worked in publishing and as a journalist before her journey with Khabar Lahariya.
Shabani Hassanwalia is a writer by background and a filmmaker by profession, creating non-fiction content in various media since the year 2000. Her work engages with changing socio-political realities, volatile subcultures and intimate personal histories in an India-in-transition.
As a co-founder of Hit and Run Films, she helped build a company that, over a decade, produced, directed and edited feature-length documentary works that travelled to national and international festivals, and aired on various channels. She also does extensive client-based advocacy work using documentary, ethnography, observational and long-format interview methods, to create feature, video, photography and text pieces in various styles and genres.
Her feature documentaries include Being Bhaijaan (2014), Gali (2017) and Out of Thin Air (2009). She is an INLAKS Fellow, and worked at The Sundance Institute, Los Angeles and the Documentary Filmmakers Group, London, as part of the fellowship.
She is currently working as an editor-in-chief for a feminist think tank on feminist perspectives on education for Nirantar, Centre for Gender and Education.
Samina Mishra is a documentary filmmaker, writer and teacher based in New Delhi, with a special interest in media for and about children. Her films use the lens of childhood, identity and education to reflect the experience of growing up in India, and include The Teacher and The World (2016), Jagriti Yatra (2013), Two Lives (2007), The House on Gulmohar Avenue (2005) and Stories of Girlhood(2001). She has also created a multi-media exhibition, Home and Away (2004) on second and third generation British Asian children and written children’s books published by Scholastic, Tulika, Young Zubaan, The Wisdom Tree and Penguin. She worked on Nehru’s Children, an archival research project on the archive of the Children’s Film Society of India for the India Foundation for the Arts. Her book, My Sweet Home: Childhood Stories from a Corner of the City (Mapin 2017) comes out of a creative writing and art workshop designed to reflect the world through children’s self-expression and creative practice. Her interest in the ways that the arts can be included in education led her to head programming for two years at the Nehru Learning Centre for Children and Youth, part of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library where she focussed on using the arts in a variety of ways with government school children. She was a Jury Member of the Crossword Children’s Book Award2013 and 2014, the Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Award 2019 for the Non-Fiction category and the SIFFCY – Smile International Film Festival for Children and Youth 2015. She was also a member of the Core Team that conceptualised and designed the Summer Fellowship Programme for Elementary School Teachers (2014 and 2015) at the Regional Resource Centre for Elementary Education, Delhi University. She is currently teaching the International Baccalaureate Film programme at Pathways School Noida and collaborating on Torchlight, a web journal on libraries and bookish love. She is also the Curator of Half Ticket, the children’s section at the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.
Sabari has three years of collective experience in assistant direction, cinematography and post production of documentary films. Based out of Bombay, he also loves to travel and document places rich in heritage and culture. After completing his Bachelor of Science degree in ‘Information Technology’ from Mumbai University he fell in love with non-fiction cinema. An avid film buff, he loves being part of film festivals and over the past few years has worked as a technical support for film festivals.
Anica Mann-Kapur is a consultant with Tata Trusts and the India Country Team Lead for Global Xplorer. She was a 2017 YES Global Institute Fellow, and as a cultural practitioner who engages in antiquities through art history, she was also an Art Advisor for Delhi Art Gallery in 2016. In addition to writing extensively about arts and culture, she was a research associate at Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities as well as a researcher at Kyoto University.
Parmesh Shahani is the head of the award winning Godrej India Culture Lab, and the author of the book Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India (Sage Publications, 2008). He is a TED Senior Fellow, a Yale World Fellow, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
Jasmine Lovely George is a Tedx speaker, lawyer, and a sexual and reproductive health advocate from India. She has founded Hidden Pockets, a community interest startup working on access to sexual and reproductive health in cities. She is passionate about changing technology spaces and making them more inclusive for people of all genders. She is also the member of RESURJ – a transnational feminist collective.
Aromar Revi is the founding Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, a global expert on Sustainable Development; and Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, from where he helped lead a successful campaign for an urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 11) as part of the UN’s 2030 development agenda. He is also member of the Managing Board of Cities Alliance the global partnership for sustainable cities and urban poverty reduction and UNISDR’ Global Assessment of Risk. Aromar is one of the world’s leading experts on global environmental change, especially climate change. He is a Coordinating Lead Author of the 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C that assesses the feasibility of mitigation and adaptation options and defines potential implementation pathways and investment needs to implement the Paris Climate Agreement.
Sudharak Olwe has been a Mumbai based photojournalist since 1988 and has worked as a press photographer with some of the leading newspapers in India. His photography captures resilience, courage and change in both rural and urban communities across the country. His work has been exhibited in Mumbai, Delhi, Malmo (Sweden), Lisbon, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Washington and Dhaka. Apart from photographs, Olwe has also received the Padma Shri in 2016 for his documentaries on maternal and child mortality. Currently, he is the Photo Editor for the country’s most widely read Marathi newspaper, Lokmat. (http://www.sudharakolwe.com/)
Rajula Shah is a Visual artist, Poet and Filmmaker. After dropping out from the Fine Arts faculty Baroda, and completing a Masters in English Literature, she studied filmmaking at FTII, Pune specializing in Film Direction. Her work is located in the interstice of Poetry, Cinema and Anthropology. A keen interest in the indigenous knowledge systems, its practitioners and the changing practices thereof form the core of her study; her practice emerges through a close collaboration with people, their histories and environments.
She has been producing/ directing / writing/ editing & photographing films for well over a decade and continues to explore boundaries of fiction/non-fiction, photography, video essay, digital art and multi media installation. With her recent work, Pilgrimage in Nomad’s land she explores the emergent domain of Interactive Trans-media. It can be watched online @ www.nomadsfilmschool.com
Sameera Jain is a filmmaker and editor, and has worked for over 30 years in the arena of film and video. Sameera has edited several award-winning documentaries and some fiction feature films. Her directorial ventures “Portraits of Belonging”, “Born at Home” and “Mera Apna Sheher (My Own City)” have been acknowledged for cinematic excellence at national and international festivals. Sameera has been on film juries and participated in curriculum formulation at various institutions. She has been mentoring film students and filmmakers at diverse platforms and has been invited to teach filmmaking at many places, including her alma mater FTII. She has conceptualized, and is Course Director of the Creative Documentary course at SACAC (Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication) in New Delhi.
Ranjani Mazumdar is Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her publications focus on urban cultures, popular cinema, gender and the cinematic city. She is the author of Bombay Cinema: An Archive of the City (2007) and co-editor with Neepa Majumdar of the forthcoming Wiley Blackwell Companion to Indian Cinema. She has also worked as a documentary filmmaker and her productions include Delhi Diary 2001 and The Power of the Image (Co-Directed). Her current research focuses on globalisation and film culture, and the intersection of technology, travel, design and colour in 1960s Bombay Cinema.
Ritesh began his journey as a photographer watching his elder sister take photos of his family but sadly, he didn’t register it back then and began his journey as a professional in 2004 as an intern at the Indian Express. Inspired by the work of Reza Deghati, David Alan Harvey and of course, the usual suspects, Henri Cartier Bresson, Eugene Smith etc, he moved over to the Hindustan times and finally the OPEN Magazine where he worked for seven years before stepping into the fascinating and often scary world of freelance.
In his decade-long experience as a photojournalist, he has reported and documented some of the major events of national and international importance in the Indian subcontinent and has recently self-published his first photo book, The Red Cat and Other Stories, which looks at the city of Bombay through the lens of a fable his mother used to narrate to him when he was a child. The book, equal parts travelogue and journalism, is a tribute to the beauty in the mundane.
Ratheesh Radhakrishnan teaches at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, Mumbai. He completed his PhD from the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (Bangalore), and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Chao Centre for Asian Studies, Rice University (Houston, USA). While at Rice University, he founded and curated TITLES: A Festival of Experimental Films from India (2011- 2014). He is currently part of the India programming team of MAMI – Mumbai Film Festival. His research on Malayalam cinema has appeared in a variety of journals and other publications, both in English and in Malayalam.
Jabeen Merchant is a film practitioner with a wide and varied experience within the independent filmmaking community as well as the mainstream film industry. She is well known for her work editing and co-scripting a number of internationally celebrated documentaries in collaboration with some of India’s best filmmakers. Side by side, she has edited a range of fiction feature films, including the critically acclaimed ‘Anaarkali of Aarah’; commercially successful thrillers like ‘NH10’ and ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’; the off-beat comedy ‘The President Is Coming’; art-house films such as ‘Kadvi Hawa’ and the soon to be released ‘The Sweet Requiem’. Apart from editing films, she teaches, consults on scripts and occasionally writes on cinema.
Swati Dandekar is a film practitioner with a special interest in creating visual narratives of the living history around her; of people, places, ideas, traditions and practices. Her most recent work is “Neeli Raag”, a feature length documentary on the natural dye indigo, and the few remaining craftsmen who still work with it.
Her earlier work includes a series of essay films that look at urban India, in particular at the changes taking place in small towns and cities, and explore the relationship between land, people, resources and the institutions that govern them. She was also closely involved in documenting best practices in elementary education, as well as designing and making radio and video programmes for rural school children. As part of Vikalp, Swati has been involved in screening documentary films in the city for over 10 years.
Swati teaches film at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.
Amit Mahanti is a filmmaker, cameraperson and editor, who has worked on films and video installations that explore questions of ecological transformation, culture and politics. His films include ML 05 B 6055 (2008), Malegaon Times (2012), Every Time You Tell A Story (2015) and Scratches on Stone (2017).
He has also been selected for art/film residency programs at Khoj Studios, New Delhi; Parco Arte Vivente Experimental Centre of Contemporary Art, Turin; Kran Film, Brussels and Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski, Warsaw. He was also a recipient of the Charles Wallace India Trust Short-term Fellowship, 2016.
After a Post-graduate diploma in Social Communications Media from Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, Sushma joined the CIEDS Collective Here, she conceived and executed a film education programme for school children. Post this experience, she worked as Assistant Director and Scriptwriter with filmmaker M.S.Sathyu for 4 years. She began making documentaries in 1998.
As Producer / Director, her focus has been on documenting the work of grass root organizations working in Karnataka’s remote villages. Her films have been used as communication tools by these organizations to further engage with the people they work with. Her work encompasses a wide spectrum – about people’s co-operatives, leadership imaging as participatory research tool, training modules for blue collar workers, issues relating to water, women and violence.
Her concerns with the city in transition led her to produce and direct her first independent documentary WHEN SHANKAR NAG COMES ASKING. Her last short film SHEELA GOWDA AT BATTARAHALLI CORNER was screened at the 13th IAWRT (International Association of Women in Film and Television) Festival. Along with 4 other filmmakers, Sushma is part of Vikalp Bengaluru, a group which has been screening documentaries in the city since 2005.
Kunal Deshpande is an alumnus of the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bangalore. His diploma film, Daryache Raje (Kings of the Sea) was selected and screened at the 6th Kirloskar Vasundhara Environmental Film Festival.
He has since worked as a cinematographer, director and editor on projects ranging from documentaries on the water resources and climate adaptation practices in the north-east, to lifestyle exploration films in Kutch, and people-oriented films. He has worked on feature films like Ferrari Ki Sawaari, on television shows and various other projects.
Kunal also worked at the IIHS where he was part of the Media Lab, creating a variety of audio visual outputs for teams and projects. He worked on videos on the process of campus development, on climate change adaptation, and on festivals such as the Urban Lens film festival and Cityscripts. He is now engaged with IIHS in the capacity of an External Consultant.
He is currently producing and directing SupperClub India, a food and travel web series, as well as producing videos for several corporate clients and brands.
TejInder, is an independent photographer and researcher. He is also senior urban fellow at Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore. He has had a range of work experiences from that of a trainee architect to managing electoral campaigns, participating in Model UN conferences, and documenting and archiving contemporary issues. He has photo documented Gaurav Gagoi’s campaign for Assam assembly elections, Occupy UGC movement, Swaraj Abhiyaan’s Jai Kisan Andolon, City Scripts – The IIHS Urban Writing Festival, 2017 IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival, Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival Word to Screen Bootcamp and many more conferences and events across India. His work on Ennore Creek Power Plant has been published by Scroll.in and Urbanisation – a SAGE journal.