The Films: Pergola

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


17th April, 2009 | 11:00:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

The Bee, The Bear And The Kuruba

Nanga Jenu Nanga Karadi Nanga Ajja
Director: Vinod Raja
63 min, 2001, INDIA

thebee“Our forests are marked by our trees. They stand as signposts, when we find our way through the thick jungle. For us, they are as permanent as the stars in the sky,” says Rajappa, a Kuruba in the Nagarahole forest belt.

The Kurubas are the original inhabitants of the forests of Nagarahole and Kakanakote in the Western Ghats, Southern India. Forcible eviction of the Kurubas started in the early seventies. They were driven out of their ancestral lands deep inside the forest, and forced to live on the roadside or plantations on the periphery.

Today, they have nowhere to go, and are struggling with a way of life they find difficult to adapt to, as they have become trespassers in their own land.

‘The Bee, the Bear and the Kuruba’ was filmed over a year and a half from 1999 in the forests of Nagarahole in Southern India.

17th April, 2009 | 12:03:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

The Nest

Director: Supriyo Sen
38 min, 2000, INDIA

TheNestFor the three generations of the Mahato family, the migratory birds that come right in their courtyard are just an extension of their family. But the birds are now falling prey to local hunters. The family tries to save them at the cost of their own lives. The film is a story of a unique bondage between a family and its feathered friends.

17th April, 2009 | 12:41:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

Jardhar Diary

Director: Krishnendu Bose
29 min, 2002, INDIA

JardharThis film is a personal journey into an area, which is alive with consciousness and commitment to save its natural resources. In it, we meet men and women who are ready to stake their lives to protect and defend what they think is their own. Jardhar, a village tucked away in the hills of the Garhwal, Himalayas the people have revived their forests, fighting limestone mining, staving off power lines _ which will decimate their rich Pine and Sal cover and reclaimed traditional seeds and put them back into circulation. The filmmaker has tried to transfer his immense awe of these people trying to hold on to a life they want to live, against the colossal powers of the powerful. This film has been shot over a period of one year and captures different time periods in the life of the people of Jardhar.

17th April, 2009 | 13:30:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

New Improved Delhi

Director’s Cut
Director: Vani Subramanian
6 min, 2003, INDIA

NewImprovedDelhiBy the turn of the century, Edwin Lutyen’s vision of colonial grandeur had metamorphosed into a New Delhi of global aspirations. The city has begun to love its new robes. But the hands that created the transformation have been forgotten: the metropolis has no space for the poor and their slums. Delhi has been witness to a spate of slum demolitions but 2000-2001 was the worst ever. More than 15,000 shanties, home to about 100,000 people, were destroyed. Thousands left the city and countless others lost their livelihoods, so that the city could ‘reclaim’ 1.5% of the total urban area of New Delhi. A short work propelled by an acapella chorus, the film welcomes you to the capital city of India.

17th April, 2009 | 13:36:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

Volume Zero

The Work Of Charles Correa
Director: Arun Khopkar
59 min, 2008, INDIA

Volume0‘Volume Zero’ is an hour-long video on the work and ideas of Charles Correa, one of world’s most important architects.

It deals with his childhood, architectural training, formative years, and the paradigms underlying his large and complex architectural oeuvre spanning over five decades, as well as his pivotal role in addressing issues of urbanization in the Developing World.

It uses first person narration by the filmmaker, combined with extended excerpts of interview with Correa, live action, stills, diagrams, animation and archival footage to open up the thought process that generate architectural space and form.

17th April, 2009 | 14:34:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

Tracing The Arc

Director: Pankaj Butalia
38 min, 2003, INDIA

TracingArcThe Great Arc was a phenomenal achievement of applied science in British India between 1802 and 1843. It was an attempt to measure the curvature of the earth’s surface under the guise of cartographic and military necessity. The film attempts to recreate the stupendous effort and look at some of it’s implications.

17th April, 2009 | 15:35:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

Class Of 2001

Director: Vani Subramanian & Surajit Sarkar
28 min, 2001, INDIA

ClassOf2001Despite being a place for children, the primary school remains a space whose existence is determined almost entirely by adults and their perceptions. ‘Class of 2001′ catalogues the diversity of adult perceptions about the government primary school in India. Interweaving memory and experience, insight and emotion, it travels to regions where the neighbourhood primary school has established its place in children’s daily routines. Following this adult perspective of the primary school across town and village, the film opens a window to the challenges and hopes, tensions and currents that exist around the idea of ‘schooling’.

17th April, 2009 | 16:03:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

Where’s Sandra?

Director: Paromita Vohra
18 min, INDIA

sandra_1-320Who’s Sandra? If you saw her would you know here? Is she naughty or nice? And where is she, anyway?

The film is a playful look at the figure of “Sandra from Bandra” – part covetous fantasy of the racy Christian girl from Bombay who works as a secretary, wears a dress and likes to dance; part condescending stereotype of a dowdy, religious girl from a minority community.

The film searches for Sandra in Bollywood films, in the words of writers and poets and the stones in church graveyards. We encounter various claimants to the title – some who aren’t called Sandra and some who aren’t even from Bandra – until finally finding 5 women really called Sandra who are all as different from each other as can be even if they are a little bit the same.

17th April, 2009 | 16:21:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

P(l)ain Truth

Director: Ilppo Pohjola
16 min, 1993, FINLAND

PIainTruth‘P(l)ain Truth’ tells the story of a transsexual’s transformation from a biological woman into a biological man. Using poignant imagery, text and music, the film describes the range of emotions that she goes through during the different stages of the painful transformation.

A symbolic documentary, which comments on the relationships between gender, sexuality and biology, traversing between the realms of memory, fiction and reality.

17th April, 2009 | 16:47:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED


Director: Anjali Monteiro & K. P. Jayasankar
55 min, 2005, INDIA

Shewrite‘SheWrite’ weaves together the narratives and work of four Tamil women poets. Salma negotiates subversive expression within the tightly circumscribed space allotted to a woman in a small town. For Kuttirevathi, solitude is a crucial creative space from where her work resonates. Her anthology entitled ‘Breasts’ (2003) became a controversial work that elicited hate mail, obscene calls and threats. Malathy Maitri_s poems attempt to explore and express feminine power and spaces. Sukirtharani writes of desire and longing, celebrating the body in a way that affirms feminine empowerment. The film traverses these diverse modes of resistance, through images and sounds that evoke the universal experiences of pain, anger, desire and transcendence.

17th April, 2009 | 17:42:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

In The Flesh

Director: Bishakha Datta
53 min, 2002, INDIA

InTheFlesh‘In The Flesh’, provides an intimate insider’s account of what it is really like to be in prostitution – by following the lives of three real life characters. Through its cinematic quest to represent the lived experiences of men and women in prostitution, In The Flesh provides a more nuanced view of prostitution – one in which violence and victimhood sit side by side with a relentless drive to survive. The inclusion of a trans-gendered sex worker breaks prevalent stereotypes of prostitution as a women-only twilight zone, and builds a deeper understanding of the way in which gender and sexual identities play out in the daily lives of individuals.

17th April, 2009 | 18:45:00 | CIRCUMSCRIBED

Remembrance Of Things Present

Director: Chandra Siddan
80 min, 2007, INDIA & CANADA

RememberanceHow to deal with a marriage arranged when one was a child of 15? How to resolve the key conflict of a displaced life after years of nomadic life abroad? Chandra Siddan, a Canadian immigrant, returns to Bangalore, India after 12 years absence with these questions.

Long divorced and newly remarried, she enquires into the reasons for her early first marriage arranged in the mid 70s by her Hindu urban middle class family and confronts her parents and relatives with her lost childhood while also presenting them her new husband. Reuniting with her daughter, Smruthi, (now in her twenties) Chandra finds her refreshingly liberated. But the life of her parents’ teenage servant, Sudha, shows that that the past is anything but over.

18th April, 2009 | 10:00:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Call Of The Bhagirathi

Bhagirathi Ki Pukar
Director: Anwar Jamal
43 min, 1992, INDIA

CallofBhagirathi“Why, we ask, so much human pain and anguish, why the need to take such colossal risks? Is it the insatiable needs of the city for water and electric power which makes it insensitive to the fate of the people from where these things are got from?

Can we really keep up this kind of development? Already we have lost so much of what is our real wealth, the soil and water…?” – Sunderlal Bahuguna Environmental Activist.

The film predicted the devastating earthquake of Uttarkashi. If the earthquake occurs now and the Dam breaks, Rishikesh will be 200 feet under water in 57 minutes or less; and Haridwar in 69 minutes…

18th April, 2009 | 10:43:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Words On Water

Director: Sanjay Kak
85 min, 2002, INDIA

WordsOnWaterFor more than 15 years, people of the Narmada Valley in central India have resisted a series of massive dams on their river, and in their struggle have exposed the deceptive heart of India¹s development politics. When the use of violence has become the arbiter of all political debate, Words on Water is about a sustained non-violent resistance, an almost joyous defiance, which empowers people as they struggle for their rights, yet saves them from the ultimate humiliation of violence.

18th April, 2009 | 12:50:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE


Director: Altaf Mazid
56 min, 1998, INDIA

JibonRon, a 12-year-old boy, is suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) a rare disease with no cure. The disease is characterized by rapid progression of muscle degeneration, eventually leading to loss in movements and death. The symptoms appeared when Ron was a child.

The film allows us to celebrate the ordinary family life of the boy and his mother, Biju, through some vignettes. It chooses to draw a situation of hope where there is none, and a life of courage and dignity. The locale is Guwahati, a town situated in the far-east corner of India and shot with real-life characters.

18th April, 2009 | 13:46:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

A Certain Liberation

Director: Yasmine Kabir
38 min, 2003, BANGLADESH

acertainlibGurudasi Mondol gave herself up to madness in 1971, during the Liberation War of Bangladesh, as she watched her entire family being killed by the collaborators of the occupying forces.

Thirty years later, Gurudasi continues to roam the streets of Kopilmoni, a small-town in rural Bangladesh, in quest of all she has lost; snatching at will from strangers and breaking into spaces normally reserved for men. Inher madness, she has found a strategy for survival.

In Kopilmoni, Gurudasi has attained near legendary status. Through her indomitable presence, she has kept alive the spirit of the Liberation War.

18th April, 2009 | 14:45:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

The Bond

Director: Anjali Monteiro & K. P. Jayasankar
45 min, 2003, INDIA

Entry-004_1Friends and activists, Bhau Korde and Waqar Khan, work with neighborhood peace committees in Dharavi, Mumbai, to promote conflict resolution through the collective production and use of visual media. As Asia’s largest slum, with a population of 800,000, Dharavi has often been represented as a breeding ground for filth, vice and poverty, full of immigrants whose right to live in the city is often questioned by vigilante citizens’ groups and right-wing politicians. The film follows these remarkable men as they work on their film, ‘Ekta Sandesh’. The two pairs of filmmakers join forces in this documentary to spread their important message even further.

18th April, 2009 | 15:30:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Sona Maati: A Very Ordinary Gold

Director: Sehjo Singh
38 min, 1996, INDIA

SonamatiWhen the waters of Indira Gandhi Canal came to Rajasthan, the ordinary gold of the deserts started turning green. All traditional land holdings were cancelled and a new dispensation took place. Sona Bai, a woman from the arid desserts of Bikaner, though illiterate, becomes the natural leader of the women. She has the confidence of dealing with the revenue officialdom, and even giving them a piece of her mind.

18th April, 2009 | 16:08:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Hot Off The Press

Tazaa Khabar
Director: Bishakha Datta
31 min, 2006, INDIA

HotOffPressAre free and fair elections being held in Nihi gram panchayat? How does the quarrying of a hill affect farmers in Bharatkup village? Why have eight people died of tuberculosis in Sukhrampur village?

In today’s media-saturated world of celebrity hype and overdrive, ‘Khabar Lahariya’ is almost an anachronism. This 8-page newspaper, published every fortnight from a small town in Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot district, covers all the news that mainstream media forgo.

The film follows the all-woman team of journalists at Khabar Lahariya on a breathless journey through police stations, polling booths, power cuts, printer failures, and sleepless nights… all part of a determined effort to ensure that Issue 62: Election Special reaches its rural readers right on time.

18th April, 2009 | 16:39:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE


Goddess Of Food
Director: Paromita Vohra
25 min, 1995, INDIA

AnnapurnaSet in the lanes and by lanes of central Bombay’s mill area, the film is a portrait of a women’s co-operative named Annapurna. Started in 1975 by 14 khanawalis – women who prepared meals for migrant workers, thus earning the name food-lady – the organisation has today swelled to a membership of 150,000 and has it’s own credit co-operative bank, short-stay home and catering centre.

The film observes the everyday life of these women and intertwines it with the story of how the organisation grew. An exploration of the politics and economics of women’s work, the film is a tribute to the fearless women who started Annapurna, and the feisty women who carry it on.

18th April, 2009 | 17:35:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

Last Family

Director: R. V. Ramani
26 min, 1995, INDIA

LastFamilyNine Experimental theatre groups from different parts of the country meet in Chennai, for a network meeting. Egos clash, fuse and melt. A film as theatre.

18th April, 2009 | 18:01:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE

My Village Is Theatre, My Name Is Habib

Gaon Ke Naon Theatre, Mor Naon Habib
Director: Sudhanva Deshpande & Sanjay Maharishi
73 min, 2005, INDIA

mvitmniHabib2They crisscross the country by road and by rail, living out of suitcases and trunks, singing, dancing, performing. ‘Naya Theatre’ is a professional theatre company of rural actors from Chhattisgarh, founded in 1959. The company is led by Habib Tanvir — actor, writer director, singer, poet, designer, teacher.
Through interaction with the actors in their villages, the making ‘Zahareeli Hawa’, Tanvir’s translation of Rahul Varma’s English play on the Bhopal gas tragedy, and incidents such as the time when Habib Tanvir and the actors came under attack from the Hindu Right in 2003 for performing ‘Ponga Pandit’, the film looks at life in Naya Theatre as the actors tour one city after another, performing continuously.

18th April, 2009 | 19:14:00 | LOCATING RESISTANCE


Director: Reena Mohan
47 min, 1992, INDIA

KamlabaiKamlabai Gokhale was one of the first actors of India, and the first lady of Indian film. When the film was shot, she was ninety-two years old and living by herself in a flat. Family members come to visit her now and then. She is an invalid, confined to her bed. But her personality is unwavering and she beams forth power when she recalls her former parts in pieces by Shakespeare or in Indian epics, or when she talks of the desperate poverty she struggled against.

In gentle, playful, irreverent conversations with Kamlabai the discusses her present and past, through photographs, re-enactments from remembered plays, and music from the beginning of this century. Far from a nostalgic forray, the weaves an impression of history and change – particularly the history of Indian film and theatre as it was experienced by a woman who struggled against the social structures of her times.

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