A Festival of Contemporary Political Films
Magic Lantern Foundation & India International Centre
Venue: India International Centre
40 Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi 110003
Films in Auditorium 1
25 February 2010
10:30 to 11:30
Dir: Supriyo Sen
14 min, 2009, India, Pakistan, Germany
Every evening, border crossing along the 3323 km frontier between India and Pakistan becomes the site of an extraordinary event. Border guards on both sides orchestrate a parade to lower the flags. Thousands of people gather to witness the ritual and afterwards the masses move as close to the gate as possible to greet their former neighbors. The film looks through the eyes of three children who sell DVDs of the parade to the onlookers. With a dream of crossing the border they remain quite unmoved by all the “patriotic” madness around them.
11:45 to 13:30
Sacrifice of Babulal Bhuiya
(Babulal Bhuiya ki Qurbani)
Dir: Manjira Datta
64 min, 1988, India
A thousand Indians drag a meager living from the black swamp where ash and fumes from the power station corrupt the air as surely as the coal dirt blights the land. Nothing grows in Mailagora which means the place of dirt. This painful and poetic film is a portrait of the undead and an investigation of the murder of local martyr…Babulal, who was shot dead by industrial security guards employed by owners of the coal washery. The guards are accused of running a protection racket among the slurry-sifters, of harassing the women and attacking the men. Explanations of the incident differ….Babulal was killed…So, Babulal becomes a hero, his ashes scattered on the coal black river. His concrete monument painted a blood red.
The Many Faces of Madness
Dir: Amar Kanwar
19 min, 2000, India
‘The Many Faces of Madness’ is a short film that emerges from the reality of destruction and the appropriation of the commons in India. This film, with its images of contemporary ecological destruction in India, brings people face to face with the intensity and impact of globalisation and industrialisation, of commerce and greed, as it travels through images from different parts of India, revealing glimpses of traditional water harvesting systems, mining, chemical pollution, community forest protection, displacement, deforestation, bio-piracy and coastal ecosystems.
In the present times of globalisation, the film is being used by many groups and individuals to initiate dialogue and sensitise representatives of governments, industry and those responsible for environmental destruction.
14:15 to 16:25
Dir: Deepa Dhanraj
126 min, 2007, India
The name of K.G. Kannabiran is synonymous with the founding of the human rights and civil liberties movement in India.
The film as part biography and partly history of the times attempts to document the remarkable contribution of Mr Kannabiran in challenging the Indian State to uphold the rule of law in institutions of governance, justice and political praxis. As president of the APCLC from 1978 to 1994, he brought its work international recognition. As a founding member of the Concerned Citizens Committee he acted in the capacity of a mediator in the peace talks between the Andhra Pradesh Government and the Maoist Peoples War Group. He was elected national president of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties in 1994, a position he continues to hold.
16:35 to 19:30
Kya Main Qaafir Hoon?
Dir: Sandhir Flora
56 min, 2009, India
On 26-11-08, a few terrorists attacked innocent people at Hotels Taj and Oberoi, Mumbai. The aftermath gave rise to a lot of debate, including what an Average Indian Muslim has to say today as he never got a platform to voice his opinion. After escaping death in the Taj hotel-firing incident, Abraham, an American NRI Muslim, visits his native place. His long cherished dream is to set up a Madrassa for poor Muslims. For this purpose, the city’s SP, Shaikh, facilitates his meeting with Maria, a TV journalist. She too wishes for a Madrassa for the backward Muslims. When the two meet, they have different ideologies. This gives rise to a new debate.
Dir: Sourav Sarangi
88 min, 2008, India
‘Bilal’ can see but his parents cannot. He is only three years old and hardly understands what blindness is. Bilal also has a little brother, Hamza. And inside a tiny dark and dank room, together, they live in a curious game of seeing and not seeing. Neighbors and relatives surround them. The film tells this unusual story by observing the little boy over a year by capturing rare moments of sharing love, fun, cruelty and hope… the wonder world of Bilal.
26 February 2010
14:05 to 16:20
Dir: Samina Mishra
32 min, 1996, India
Heera Deepa and Susheela work the fields, cut grass, tend cattle and care for their families. They contribute as much as men to the sustenance of their families and the economy of their villages. But their labour is rarely recognised as work. And so, they never stop working even when they are sick, and never have their sickness taken care of till the work begins to suffer. Women’s health in India continues to be seen in the restricted light of pregnancy and motherhood so that health initiatives for women focus mainly on family planning and maternal health. Shot in Almora and Sitapur districts in Uttar Pradesh, this is a film about the attitudes that deny women their share of health care.
Dir: R. Rohini
49 min, 2007, India
‘Silent Hues’, takes a look at six child actors from India. Moving through conversations and silences, the film lines and colours the spoken and unarticulated thoughts and emotions of the children, who vary from a confident star in the making to an unknowing infant. The mindset and ambitions of the makers of these child actors, the fathers and mothers, is unraveled through interviews.
I Ranu Gayen
Dir: Shyamal Karmakar
9 min, 2002, India
‘I Ranu Gayen’ is a film that portrays a post-modern yet surreal account of an urban woman, Ranu Gayen, within a crumbling space defined by four walls. An over-sized ugly fish, her favorite pet, in a small bowl and a phone, keeps her in touch with the outside world. Suddenly the bowl topples, leaving the fish gasping for oxygen. There is no water around except a couple of frozen mineral water bottles! She has to save her fish.
Dir: Shashi Ghosh Gupta
26 min, 2008, India
‘Arzoo’ is the story of Sulekha Ali, a young Muslim woman who is compelled by circumstances to live in the Shah Alam refugee camp in Ahmedabad, for six months following the Gujarat communal riots of 2002. There she works as a volunteer and soon discovers emotional wounds that lie buried below the surface. Her interaction with the children creates a longing within her to heal and nurture. After leaving the camp Sulekha decides to continue with her work and thus Arzoo Education & Activity Centre, synonymous with her own desires, is born. The film depicts the struggle and resilience of a young woman fighting for her beliefs, against all odds.
16:35 to 19:30
Dir: Leena Manimekalai
45 min, 2007, India
Here is the story of three ordinary women who live extraordinary lives, surviving darkest of times and going against society’s norms, to live and work according to the rules that they have set for themselves. Lakshmi, a professional ‘Funeral Singer’: She visits death houses with a troop of drummers and for a measly pay, she wails, laments and shares the grief of other mourners. Krishnaveni, the ‘grave-digger’: Dead unknown earn her daily meal. Veni accepts unclaimed bodies from the local Police and gives them a decent burial or cremation, digging and maintaining the graves herself. Sethuraku, the ‘fisherwomen’: confidently does what is normally considered taboo for women – going out to sea every morning with a few fellow fisherwomen.
Something Like a War
Dir: Deepa Dhanraj
52 min, 1991, India
‘Something Like a War’ examines India’s national Family Planning programme from the perspective of women, who are its primary targets. The programme, launched in 1952, was formulated in collaboration with Western population control experts.
The film traces the history of the family planning programme and exposes the cynicism, corruption and brutality, which characterizes its implementation. It also questions the ethics of internationally funded contraceptive research, which uses Indian women as guinea pigs. As the women discuss their status, sexuality, fertility control and health, it is clear that in the absence of inputs such as education, healthcare, land reform, employment opportunities, social security and improvement in women’s status the program in their words is “reducing the poor not poverty”.
Tales From the Margins
Dir: Kavita Joshi
23 min, 2006, India
Manipur, India: 12 women disrobe in public – in protest. A young woman called Irom Sharmila has been on a fast-to-death for over 6 years, demanding justice. Why are the women of Manipur using their bodies as their battlefield?
The film looks at the grim human rights situation in Manipur and the extraordinary protests by its womenfolk for justice and peace.
27 February 2010
13:30 to 16:40
Bhagwan Das: In Pursuit of Ambedkar
Dir: S. Anand
60 min, 2009, India
The film charts the life and work of Bhagwan Das, 82, who worked as a research associate with Dr B.R. Ambedkar in 1955–56. Between 1963 and 1980, Das edited, compiled and produced the four-volume ‘Thus Spoke Ambedkar” series. Born in 1927 in Jutogh cantonment, Shimla, Das joined Ambedkar’s Scheduled Caste Federation at the age of 16 and served the Royal Indian Air Force as a radar operator during World War II. The film, shot in Shimla and Delhi over nine months, coaxes Das to remember the past and offers a dalit perspective on some of the key moments in modern Indian history.
Dir: Abhay Tiwari
18 min, 2009, India
An urban couple has a car breakdown on a desolate road. There is no one around as far as they can see. Leaving their car there, they go looking for some help. In the middle of the dense jungle they find a dilapidated shack and a village woman. What transpires between them is the subject of the film.
Hunting Down Water
Dir: Sanjay Barnela & Vasant Saberwal
32 min, 2003, India
The film explores the present water crisis, one that is largely of our own making and its social dimensions. Water is diverted from rural India to meet the unending needs of the urban population – as drinking water, but also, to wash cars, to fill swimming pools, or to ensure adequate water in amusement parks. As the water table plummets, tube wells and hand pumps have gone dry. Deprived of water, more of the rural poor are now forced to migrate – in search of work, but also, simply in search of water.
The Latent City
Dir: Krishnendu Bose
56 min, 2009, India
Delhi. This city is old. 2500 years old. The city as a palimpsest. Layers of accumulated history and memory. The city transforms. The water turns black. The trees turn yellow. The city turns a foggy green. And the poor turn to dust. Dialectics. The city is transforming to become more efficient and modern. A thought emerges. Selected artists from all the world over and India are invited to this city. In its transformative moment. To create art, in the everyday. 8 politically charged spaces are identified to be excavated and be transformed by the artists. 48 degrees Celsius. A reminder of our warming cities. The first public art ecology project in India is shaped. For 10 days in December 2008.
Cameras whirr and a film re-constructs the art. An attempt is made to record and transcend the imagery. Using snatches of artist conversation. Splicing their politics and performance. A video re-presentation, is sliced in between the chronicle of the disappearing city. Scattered written words unlock the larger narrative of the city. A debate around the disabling of publics and public spaces. A film re-surfaces. Nudges us to re-examine the latent citizenry. Urges to re- imagine the future of our cities. Through the ‘eye glass’ of public art.
16:45 to 19:40
ML 05 B 6055
Dir: Ruchika Negi, Amit Mahanti, Subhashim Goswami
38 min, 2008, India
ML 05 B 6055 documents the journey of a bazaar bus between the village of Mawjatap in the East Khasi Hills and Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. The film is an assemblage of images and extracts from conversations around the bus with various people. It depicts the intricate linkage that exists between the bus and rural life and livelihoods in Meghalaya and tries to highlight the dependence that people have on the bus, in all aspects of their lives. ML 05 B 6055 is, in a sense, a biographical portrait of a bus – how a wooden bus is made, its functionality, systems that exist around it and the associations and attachment that people have for their bus.
Out of Thin Air
Dir: Samreen Farooqui and Shabani Hassanwalia
49 min, 2009, India
This is the story of one of the most surreal, stunning and hostile landscapes in the world. It’s the story of Ladakh, a Buddhist union territory of 2,70,000 people, in the northernmost frontier of India, where icy winds can freeze the tears in your eyes while your feet are burning to cinder. This is the story of Ladakh through a subterranean, local film movement that has taken strong root here in the last six years and has become a voice of the people. Today, taxi drivers and grocery store owners, cops and monks, are producers-directors-camerapersons-actors of one of youngest, and most dynamic, local film industries in the world.
.in for motion
Dir: Anirban Datta
59 min, 2008, India
‘.in for motion’ is a visual essay about the dramatic change that the world’s largest democracy is going through for the past two decades. Economic liberalisation and the IT revolution took place simultaneously in a country where the real industrial revolution hasn’t happened. The cities expanded vertically and horizontally, the consumables changed in variety and choice. The citizen realised his power as consumer, democracy’s fundamental unit assumed a new identity. Underneath, the country witnessed an ever-increasing drain of inhabitants to the cities, fields of traditional crops gave way to industries, hillocks to IT towers. The population, once considered a burden, today coupled with education and professional exposure, appears to become the world’s largest contributor to the ever-growing IT industry.