A Festival of Contemporary Political Films
Organised by Magic Lantern Foundation & India International Centre
April 17, 18 and 19, 2009; 10 am to 10 pm
Venue: India International Centre, 40 Max Mueller Marg, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi 110003
Special focus South Asia
What happens when art gets inextricably linked to the politics of subversion and resistance, not only of other art forms but the processes of human movement as well? What persists then, the art or values residing in resistance? In trying to address this vast jigsaw puzzle of the multiple meanings of the words persistence and resistance this festival was conceived. It is also an ode to the persistent vision of films, closely guarded by an ever-changing relationship between the film and the viewer.
Art as an emblem of cultural production, has been deeply engrossed in human movements, acquiring an inherently political nature. However, now the time has come to acknowledge that the audience is probably an equally resistive force, constructing ways of using and recycling images in an attempt to break out of the censorious trappings of the cinema hall, emerging as a powerful social agent in making meanings of cinema and thereby, culture.
Persistence Resistance 2009, aims to bring all the movements of the audiences and matters of films a little closer together, in a collective space to experience the diversity of films. With our second edition we take forward our quest to explore the diversity of the documentary form and expand our ways of seeing and being seen. We aim to locate multiple practices of screening and viewing.
This edition of the festival also brings a special focus on South Asia, its films, filmmakers and the resonance and dissonance of the cultures of the sub-continent.
In this age of the emerging global village a large section of people and their stories, concerns, dreams and experience are becoming excluded simply through the process of creating the village itself. These people are off the map; and their fringe locations do not bear any consequence on the hegemonic world order. What becomes visible then tends to render many more invisible.
Perhaps compelled by the very same narrowing and shrinking spaces, independent filmmakers (and other artists) are moving in a different trajectory. They search for form and aesthetics that have the power within themselves to carry the complex and simultaneous narratives and histories of our everyday lives.
Persistence Resistance 2009 will screen nearly 150 films over three days. Collectively these films tell intriguing tales. This year the curation is attempting to locate Resistance in all its manifold manifestations. And we found that Resistance tends to be as narrowly circumscribed as Political. Persistence Resistance 09 celebrates diversities of Resistance by opening up for view the multiple ways people resist. The Section called Locating Resistance brings together diverse tales of search, by the filmmaker or by the subjects in the film for moving beyond boundaries.
Drawing in a very wide range of films and subjects this section traverses a wide trajectory from the Bhakti movements to collective resistance and ends in performances, almost as though Resistance is necessarily performed.
As this section developed it became necessary to also locate those elements, circumstances and compulsions that insist on and lay down borders, boundaries and margins. Like the Lakshman Rekha that is drawn in the epic Ramayana: a boundary the woman must stay within and whose slightest transgression will bring the harshest backlash; films in the section called Circumscribed present situation of conflict, violence and denials that traverses a vast spectrum of human experiences. In the struggle of opposites, incidences of an inevitable pitting of the traditional against the modern, the state against its citizens, and the infinitely complicated boundaries drawn by gender and caste, something comes alive, some new meaning perhaps become visible.
Sandwitched in between Circumscribed and Locating Resistance, sits a small section called Inscribed will showcase multiple practices and celebrates plurality in our collective lives. The other called Hidden History of the Documentary will screen remarkable and rarely seen films from the Films Division’s archive. Films by Sukhdev, Pramode Pati and S.N.S. Sashtri would be screened.
The Theme Parlours quietly bridge the binary and overlap between Circumscribed and Locating Resistance.
The festival will be inaugurated by Ms. Vijaya Mulay (IIC main Auditorium, 10 a.m. 17 April) Ms. Mulay’s contribution to the documentary is immense and she will be felicitated by Shri Kuldeep Sinha, Director Films Division.
The festival offers the following:
1. Video parlours (IIC Gandhi King Plaza)
Curated films play in a loop continuously through out the day in small, intimate spaces that seats between 12-15 persons. Signage outside provides sequence of films with film details. A viewer can walk in at a particular moment in the screening and view the films in a circular loop.
1A. Six parlours, each featuring the entire body of work of a filmmaker: Madhusree Dutta, Paromita Vohra, R. V. Ramani, Tanvir Mokamel, Sanjay Kak and Kesang Tseten (Lama).
1B. Four parlours featuring films curated around the theme of Circumscribed / Locating Resistance.
2. Auditorium screening
Film will be shown in three auditoria.
Hidden History of the Documentary will screen films from Films Division. Films by Sukhdev, Pramode Pati and S.N.S. Sashtri would be screened. This section will be presented by Paromita Vohra who will also lead a discussion after the screening.
Films will screen in parallel in Audi 1 (IIC Main auditorium), Audi 2 (IIC Conference Room 1), and Audi 3 (IIC Pergola). Many filmmakers will be present for discussions.
A special discussion on Article 377 led by filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan (19 April, 7:45 p.m. at Audi 2 (IIC Conference room 2) follows a section on films of desire and exclusion.
3. Films Outdoor (IIC Fountain Lawn 8:00 p.m. onwards)
Three night screenings of films in the outdoor.
Inauguration by Aruna Vasudev. Introdution of Ms. Vasudevan by Dr. Rashmi Doraiswamy.
Screening: View from a Grain of Sand, by Meena Nanji, USA. A film on the women of Afghanisthan and genesis of the war in the country.
18 April: Screening
Nusrat has left the Building, but when? by Farjad Nabi, Pakistan. A film about the other side of a song, through an artistic search of the music and career of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Machhendranath: On the Road with the God, A film by Kesang Tseten, Nepal. A film on the spectacular chariot jatra of Kathmandu’s Rato Machhendranath – a gritty arena for conflict and contestation.
My Migrant Soul, by Yasmine Kabir, Bangladesh. A story about modern-day slavery – the plight of a young migrant worker from Bangladesh who went to Malaysia in search of work.
19 April: Screening
Akasa Kusum, by Prasanna Vithennage. A film on an ageing and once-famous actress who is ‘discovered’ by media.
4. Films as installation (in key places outdoor)
A few films are built into installations. This provides a different viewing experience by involving the viewer physically in the viewing experience. A shifting perspective, a momentary look, time, space, all combine to create different registers for the sign, signifier and the signified.
5. Video Library (IIC Gandhi King Plaza, all days, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
A on-site video library will provide all the films scheduled in the festival as well as film that are distributed by Under Construction (the distribution initiative of Magic Lantern Foundation) and not being screened at the festival. Viewers can loan a copy and view at the booths provided.
Three half day seminars will engage with some of the critical issues facing the documentary:
Seminar 1: Is South Asia a cinematic reality?
Seminar 2: Watching the ‘real’: Voyeurism, polemic and documentary.
Seminar 3: When are films independent?: Rethinking ownership / authorship / viewership
7. Public lectures/ presentations (6:30 p.m. onwards all days in Main Auditorium)
17 April: Ujle Safed Kabootar: Poetry on Palestine, by the Jana Natya Manch. The reading starts with a song on Palestine by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and a poem by the Somalian poet Safi Abdi. The centrepiece of the reading is the poem ‘Under Siege’ by Palestine’s best-known poet, Mahmoud Darwish, who died last year.
18 April: Imagine Peace: Workshop organised by KHOJ International Artists Association in collaboration with Design2context (Zurich). Presentations by participating artists followed by discussions.
19 April: Cinema City: Bombay/Mumbai by Majlis Productions. This is a curtain raiser of an interdisciplinary project to archive timelines of cities in cinema and cinemas in the city. The programme will consist of presentation of film essays, cartographs, textual dateline, sound texts etc.