Urban Lens 2019

Bengaluru: 19 – 22 September 2019 | New Delhi: 8 – 10 November 2019

The sixth edition of the Urban Lens film festival is back with a wide range of fiction and non-fiction films that explore the urban condition – from the granularity of everyday life to a macro picture of what it means to inhabit a city.

While the films may be diverse in their genre, form and story-telling, the search to explore what the urban experience is, unites these films. The festival hopes that the audience will experience and reflect on what a city represents in an image.

The opening film will be the world premiere of Lalit Vachani’s ‘Recasting Selves’ at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. The festival venue will then move to Indian Institute for Human Settlements. The festival line-up this year includes a tribute to Agnès Varda with a special screening of her film “Jacquot de Nantes”. She was one of the most influential filmmakers who was part of the New Wave cinema in France. She created her own language of cinema, and was uncompromising in her vision of what she believed image-making was. The closing film of the festival is Anamika Haksar’s “Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon”.

The ‘Looking Back’ section will screen older non-fiction films that framed the city before the proliferation of digital media. These films challenged notions of the ‘documentary image’ and the festival will host conversations with filmmakers as they reflect on these questions. Anjali Monteiro and KP Jayasankar’s “Saacha”, Paromita Vohra’s “Unlimited Girls”, Rahul Roy’s “Sunder Nagri”, Reena Mohan’s “Kamlabai” and Surabhi Sharma’s “Jari Mari: Of Cloth and Other Stories” will be showcased in this section.

Apart from the screenings, the festival will host a workshop, a round table and an exhibition. A four-day workshop for young adults titled “In Pursuit of Happiness”, mentored by filmmaker and educator Samina Mishra, will focus on creating visual narratives and understanding film language based on their experiences and the city. The round table, titled, “The Future of Documentary Practice in the Digital Age: A Funder’s View” will be curated and moderated by filmmaker Shabani Hassanwalia. As funding patterns, algorithms, technology and viewers preferences combine to shape a possibly new epoch of Indian documentary cinema, the round table seeks to understand the negotiations the documentary filmmaker is making today.

The exhibition will showcase a collection of animations, audio, illustrations and photographs based on research about food vending in Bangalore, carried out at IIHS under the Hungry Cities Project. The works featured as part of the exhibition depict the relationship between food, informal vending and the city.

Like the previous editions, the Urban Lens film festival hopes that through screenings and conversations between filmmakers and those curious about practices of film, a larger audience will get interested in cinema, the city and the place they hold in our lives.

Register here to receive updates about the festival and details about the films and workshops.

Films @ Urban Lens 2019


THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS: Film, Youth and the City | 19 – 22 September 2019

India is one of the most depressed countries in the world, according to a WHO report, with one in four children in the age group 13-15 years suffering from depression. The increasing levels of competitiveness and a socio-economic system that seems to have fewer opportunities for those on the margins along with the packaging of success stories on social media creates a context where the pressure is increasingly on individuals to make a success of their lives. This is accompanied by different kinds of violence in society. For young people growing up today, the world is a harsh place. In this context, facilitating creative practice and expression by young people is increasingly important. Not only does this equip them for the future landscape of work by encouraging skills of communication and collaboration, but it can also help them to develop a sense of self that can enable them to reimagine the world they live in. Even as this visually-literate generation communicates in images everyday, there is a need to develop a way of seeing that can foster both depth and criticality. 

This film workshop, conducted by Samina Mishra, focuses on creating visual narratives and builds an understanding of film language around the theme, The Pursuit of Happiness, emphasising how both content and form create meaning. Participants will brainstorm ideas on the theme, drawing upon their personal experiences of being young and the challenges that young people encounter in the city. They will be taken through the process of selecting and developing ideas, and distilling them for a short film. They will learn how film narratives are created using mise en scene, framing and composition, different elements of sound and basic principles of editing. Through this process, participants will find their individual way of looking at the world and expressing that in their voice.

Participants are required to bring a simple camera, even phone cameras will suffice. Editing facilities will be provided by IIHS.

To register for the workshop, please click here.

Round Table

The Future of Documentary Practice in the Digital Age: A Funder’s View | 22 September 2019

Indian documentary cinema has curated an alternative history of India, and if hierarchy is your lens, let’s call it a subaltern history. 

Which means that for every dominant discourse in text, image and song claiming to be India, there is evidence to the contrary, and it exists in the documentary.

If one looks at the non-fiction cinematic evidence forensically, as it maps an India in transition since 1888 (doggedly, guerilla-like), three key paradigms reveal themselves to be the superstructure the filmmaker operates in: the funding of documentaries, the gendering processes in front and behind the camera, and the emergent technologies each decade is marked by.

Today, still tied to its socialist roots, the Indian documentary finds itself in a dynamic negotiation with the superstructure. Led by a volatile combination of capital economy and technology, there is unprecedented power to make personal and political narratives visible, or as some say, viral. 

To understand the negotiation the documentary filmmaker is making today, and will continue to make as funding patterns, algorithms, technology evangelism and viewers preferences (data) combine to shape a possibly new epoch of Indian documentary cinema, key producers from the past, present and future of funding come together to contemplate a future for the Indian non-fiction artist, and the new superstructure they will help determine.

The participants of the round table include Arundhati Ghosh, Disha Mullick, Sophy VSivaraman and V S Kundu.

The round table is curated by Shabani Hassanwalia.

Festival Team


Gail Coutinho


Aparna Gollapudi


Vikrant M S


Nawaz Khan & Shaiksha Vali T


Sandeep Viswanath & Sabari Pandian

Get in touch with us

Urban Lens 2019

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IIHS Benagluru City Campus: No. 197/36, 2nd Main Road,  Sadashivanagar, Bengaluru 560 080. India. T: +91 80 6760 6666 |  F: +91 80 2361 6814  |  E: urbanlens at iihs dot ac dot in

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan
716, CMH Road, Indiranagar 1st Stage, Bengaluru 560 038
T: +91 80 2520 5305

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan
3, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, HC Mathur Lane, New Delhi, Delhi 110 001
T: +91 11 2347 1100

India International Centre
40, Lodhi Gardens, Lodhi Estate New Delhi, Delhi 110 003