The Films: Auditorium

PR09PosterA Festival of Contemporary Political Films

Organised by
Magic Lantern Foundation & India International Centre

April 17, 18 and 19, 2009
Entry Free

Venue: India International Centre, 40 Max Mueller Marg, Lodhi Estate,
New Delhi 110003

Auditorium: IIC Main Auditorium

17th April, 2009 | 14:00:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Mahua Memoirs

Director: Vinod Raja
82 min, 2007, INDIA

Mahua3Saloo, the bard, and Thirku, the Baiga, take us on a journey through the lives of the many adivasi communities who live in the mountain tracts and forests of the Eastern Ghats across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand. As in most indigenous homelands the world over, these regions too are rich in natural resources including minerals; resources that have become the source of their greatest insecurities.

Through their stories and songs, interwoven with the metaphor of Bewar, a form of shifting cultivation practiced by many adivasis, the film unravels and unfolds both their life visions and their struggles against the merciless mining, particularly over the past two decades, that is consuming their lands and their lives.

17th April, 2009 | 15:22:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Manipur Song

Director: Pankaj Butalia
60 min, 2008, INDIA

ManipurSongSet in Manipur the film seeks to foreground a state that exists on the periphery of the Indian imagination. As with other North Eastern states, culturally and ethnically Manipur has remained estranged from the dominant Indian culture and has repeatedly sought to assert its identity through insurgency. In 1980-81 the Indian state countered by giving unprecedented powers to its army to deal with insurgency. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), gives complete immunity to the army and led to killings and rapes. The situation got so bad that in August 2004 a group of women disrobed in front of the army barracks holding banners saying “Indian Army Rape Us”. The film looks at the consequences of this violence on ordinary people.

17th April, 2009 | 16:22:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Listener’s Tale

Director: Arghya Basu
76 min, 2007, INDIA

ListenersTale1The ink. The reed. The mind. And words appear …

“Listener’s Tale” is a journey into hinterlands of a magical history. Sikkim/Beyul Demadzong, an erstwhile Tibetan Monarchy, is revered as a land of hidden treasures consecrated and blessed by Guru Padmasambhava, the immortal messiah of Tibetan Buddhism in the 8th Century AD. In the 12th century, a blooodpact is signed between Lepcha chief Thekung Tek and Khye Bumsa, a wandering Tibetan king. The great snow mountain Kanchendzongha, guardian deity of the land, stands witness.

Chakdor Namgyal, its 18th century legendary Tibetan monk-king, dreams of the mountain dancing with his warriors in the court of Lord Mahakala. He writes the Pangtoed Chham dance to immortalize the Lepcha-Bhutia alliance. Its spectacle unfolds in the film as an ageold whisper amidst the chorus of modernity and scepticism.

18th April, 2009 | 14:00:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Bishar Blues

Director: Amitabh Chakraborty
79 min, 2006, INDIA

BisharBlues2Bengali Fakirs are Islamic people who live in Bengal, in Eastern India. The Bengalis are the second largest ethnic language group who practice Islam. The Fakirs are Bengali with their own typical ethnic, cultural and geographical mix. In their practice of Islam they have extended it’s scope over the complex multiplicities of their own land.

The Fakirs believe that to know oneself is to know God. There is no higher entity than Man. In fact, they search for Allah in Man. Through the practice of this indigenous form of Islam, called ‘Marfat’, they keep Islam open-ended. ‘Marfat’ is passed on in the oral tradition through songs.

‘Bishar Blues’ undertakes a journey to understand ‘Marfat’ through encounters with various Fakirs and their songs.

18th April, 2009 | 15:19:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Scribbles On Akka

Director: Madhusree Dutta
57 min, 2000, INDIA

AkkaIn this short film on the life and work of the 12th century saint-poet, Mahadevi Akka, her radical poems, written with the female body as a metaphor, have been composed and picturised in contemporary musical language. Mahadevi, framed as Akka – elder sister, while leaving the domestic arena in search of God also abandoned modesty and clothing. The film explores the meaning of this denial through the work of contemporary artists and writers and testimonies of ordinary folk who nurtured her image through centuries in their folklore and oral literature. A celebration of rebellion, feminity and legacy down nine hundred years.

18th April, 2009 | 16:16:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Word Within The Word

Director: Rajula Shah
74 min, 2008, INDIA

WordWWordThe film looks at how the Word, resonates in and resonates of ordinary lives across centuries. Beginning from an everyday cloudy monsoon morning in the city of Bhopal it travels to Malwa, Madhya Pradesh, (the hub of tribal India) also known as the second home of Pt. Kumar Gandharva, one of the greatest musicians of our time. Here within the fast altering fabric of a challenged rural life we encounter common people, age-caste-gender regardless, fighting hard to earn a square meal daily, yet keeping music alive at the bosom of a gnawing fate. Far beyond the scope of any intellectual resolve it is at once a refusal to die, and more significantly a bid to seize eternity from historic annihilation.

‘Word Within the Word’ is a crucial gateway to the India we are fast forgetting, one that is difficult to classify and categorise but simpler to understand if you hear its common folk talk. It is this human landscape within which one can aspire to come to terms with one’s contemporary dilemmas stemming from learned responses, fragmented dreams.

19th April, 2009 | 14:00:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

A Million Steps

Director: Pankaj Butalia
22 min, 2003, INDIA

AMillionStepsIn the 1860′s, the British, keen to know the terrain of Tibet in case the Russians invaded India through Lhasa, trained Indian surveyors to disguise themselves, enter Tibet and carry on surveys incognito. Over the next twenty years, many Indian surveyors, known today as the ‘Pundits’, entered Tibet disguised as monks or traders and carried out the most authoritative surveys of their times and contributed to the map of Asia. This film is a short documentary attempting to look at the adventures of three of these surveyors.

19th April, 2009 | 14:22:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE


Two Tales Of A City
Director: Paromita Vohra
13 min, 2004, INDIA

Cosmo2In two discrete but associated shorts, ‘Cosmopolis’ looks at divisions of language, class, memory and food, and queries the myths of Bombay as a great cosmopolitan city.

TALE 1: THE FORGOTTEN CITY (1 min 17 sec)
A poem called Mumbai, about a city built by workers. A skyline where mill chimneys are replaced by glinting, cylindrical highrises, that mimic their shape, but do not hold their memory. A singer who recites the names of train stations, a map in song. In the eye of change, a forgotten city.

Annapurna, goddess of food, blesses the city with gastronomic abundance and reigns as its patron deity. However, soon she faces competition with the arrival her sister, Laxmi, goddess of wealth. The city spirals into a war over food and property, livelihood and living.

19th April, 2009 | 14:35:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Salata Baladi: An Egyptian Salad

Director: Nadia Kamel
105 min, 2007, EGYPT

Salata-Baladi‘Salata Baladi’ is the personal history of the filmmaker’s grandmother, Mary, as told to her grandson, Nabeel. Like many Egyptians, born at the end of a century filled with multiple waves of immigration, religious conversions, and mixed marriages, Nabeel is a mix of Egyptian, Italian, Palestinian, and Lebanese, with some Russian, Caucasian, Turk and Spanish, all from his Muslim, Christian and Jewish ancestors. As Mary weaves her way through the family tales, she bumps into her own fears and the silence shrouding the Israeli branch of her family. In an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people dispossessed by the creation of Israel in 1948, Mary has been boycotting her Egyptian Jewish family in Israel for 55 long years. Inspired by the telling of her own stories and the fresh perspectives her 10-year-old grandson brings to them, she and her loving, eclectic circle of friends and family engage in breaking one of the most vicious taboos in modern Egypt.

19th April, 2009 | 16:20:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE


Director: Atul Taishete
9 min, 2007, INDIA

RewindThe world’s first true reverse narrative film is the story of three gambler thieves, one of whom is blind. Together they manage to crack a safe. The safe has diamonds worth a million, but then greed takes over as they decide to play the Russian roulette. The guy who survives would keep the diamonds. The film moves in reverse towards the beginning as the opening of the film evolves as the climax.

19th April, 2009 | 16:29:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Death On A Full Moon Day

Purahanda Kaluwara
Director: Prasanna Vithanage
74 min, 1997, INDIA

DeathFullMoon2The land is stricken by drought and ethnic conflict. The lake on the edge of the jungle is almost dry and few miles away the sons of the rural poor are dying on the front of a bitter civil war. As he collects water from what is left in the lake. Wannihami, the blind old man, knows the rain will come soon.

A few days later, on the Buddhist holiday of the full moon. His soldier son’s body is returned by the Army in a sealed coffin. The day the rains fall is the day Bandara is buried. Wannihami refuses to sign the papers which will entitle the family to the Government’s compensation payment for his son’s death in action. Sunanda, the younger daughter, silently accepts her father’s decision and finds a job in a garment factory. But her boyfriend Somay, her elder, married sister Yamuna and the local Government officer pressurise Wannihami to sign the papers.

Somay earns a pittance as a brick maker. He too feels, like Bandara once did. That the only way to earn a decent living is to join the Army. The local Buddhist monk wants to construct a memorial in the name of the valiant son of the soil who gave his life for his country. Faced with desperate poverty, day to day hardships and empty glories of being nothing more than canon fodder, Wannihami retains the clarity of vision, which gives him the wisdom that reaches far beyond what the eye can see.

He picks up the mammoty to dig up and open his son’s coffin, knowing he will invalidate the compensation claim. But his greater purpose is to believe that the war cannot kill his son.

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