Follow-up Workshop on Film Curatorial Practice, 23 Dec 2011

The five-day workshop was to be followed by another one-day workshop, for the select few participants who would then go ahead and screen their curatorial ideas. Participants were selected on the basis of the Curatorial Projects they submitted.                                       The much awaited follow-up workshop, finally done! Just as Christmas cheer was setting in and holiday season knocked on everyone’s door, we had our intensive little workshop on film curatorial practice on 23rd Dec at the Whistling Woods International Campus.

This was the first follow-up workshop since the restructuring of the Curatorial Project Programme for the KCFS Nodal Centre. The restructured programme entailed that workshop on film curatorial practice be turned into a five-day event, instead of the three-day event (as it was in the first year of the curatorial project); also, the five-day workshop would be followed by another one-day follow-up workshop for the participants selected for the Curatorial Project Film Screenings.Kaushik Bhaumik, Delhi-based Archivist and Curator, Senior Vice-President Osian, was the resource person for the follow-up workshop. The workshop was held at the Whistling Woods International Campus in Goregaon, Mumbai.

The day started with Kaushik Bhaumik’s invigorating talk on the idea of curating in context of films. Kaushik discussed how curation is a ‘certain’ commitment to a ‘certain’ cinema. He further elucidated the essential difference between film festival programming and curating, discussing how curating goes back to deep social needs and has nothing to do with cinema and art.

“Curation is connected to deity creation, in some ways. You curate someone and make a deity. You curate nature, life and make deities. The ideology of the religious system is to connect newer Gods to the older Gods, and thus the Avtara system. This could give us an insight to how Cinema got classified and how deities were created. Cinema is the closest what we have to religion in modern society. It has taken a religious function. It creates deities and role models. Every deity creation is about debates, you look religion and see Vasihnavas vs Shaivs, and that is what we see in Cinema.” Kaushik also spoke about how Curation, in perception is limited to Arthouse Cinema. He shared how different cinema was a different look at the same world but through a different lens and hence all forms ofcinema be curated. Talking of popoular and art house cinema and eventually Indian mainstream cinema, he remarked “India has an impoverished film culture”.

Kaushik Bhaumik

The day then proceeded with each of the participants presenting their curatorial proposal and further discussion on the same. Geetha, Professor from BITS Pilani, presented her idea – ‘Sonic Silences’- looking at the silences (literal and metaphorical) within the soundscape/soundtrack of a film. Afrah Shafiq, would be looking across the landscape of altering aesthetics in the practice of documentary, through her curatorial idea. Manjeet Singh’s Curatorial Proposal was about creating a space for yet unreleased films – the struggle to survive and yet create a work of art runs these dwellers of Mumbai,  their maiden features not yet made and if made then not released; Manjeet’s idea was about these unheard of short-films, features and documentaries. Troy Riberio’s curatorial idea involved elucidating the world of journalism through cinema. Atika Chohan, chose to look at the centrality of food as a recurrent film theme and how food-films marry cinematics and rhetoric so engagingly that it finds an instant receptivity amongst both the lay and initiated audience, through her curatorial proposal ‘Food in Films : The Kitchen Chronicles’.

As the workshop wrapped up, Kaushik shared a last few thoughts and suggested that all should watch a lot of films, and consistently try to bring about more and more of a critical element in their curatorial ideas.

The participants will screen films over weekends in the months of Feb-Mar 2012. Venues are being explored. Hoping to take the city of Mumbai by a storm, Cinema that is 🙂

– Svetlana Naudiyal

KCFS – Workshop on Film Curatorial Practice, 22-26 Aug 2011

So, in continuation to talking about my dilemmas of explaining what we do.. thought it would be a good idea to share more about our workshops.                                                           An account of the workshop by Ananya Parikh (Phd Student, School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU).

The Workshop on Film Curatorial Practice was held from Monday, 22nd August to Friday, 26th August on the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahlaya (formerly The Prince of Wales Museum), Mumbai. The workshop conducted by the Katha Centre for Film Studies and the India Foundation for the Arts, supported by Jamshedji Tata Trust and in association with CSMVS, brought together five eminent film curators, several experts on film and art practices and 20 participants from all over India.

Spread over five days, the workshop introduced and equipped the participants to the newly emerging field of film curation both as concept as well as practice.

On the first day, Madhushree Dutta, director of Majlis Culture and a documentary filmmaker spoke about her curatorial project Cinema/City. The Cinema/City project is essentially an interdisciplinary research project that curates the intertwined lives of the city and cinema in Mumbai. Dutta, drawing on her own project and research interests, laid out the theoretical framework for a discussion of film curation, which she described as essentially interdisciplinary movement. Reflecting on the emergence of art curatorship practices as well as methodologies, she then moved on to speak about her work as a different approach from the traditional curating at film festivals. As a part of her presentation, she also showed a couple of films as well as visual art works which were a part of the larger curatorial project.

Madhusree Dutta

The second day, Bina Paul Venugopal, artistic director of the International Film festival of Kerala at Trivandrum elaborated on the experience of putting together one of the most interesting and important festivals in India.  Bina Paul, a film editor by profession, got involved with the festival at an early stage and has been a part of it as the main artistic director for the last 11 years. She spoke about the history of film societies and the local context of Kerala and their influence on the makings of the festival, the state involvement and support to the festival as well as the programming, selection and screening process for the festival. From her presentation, it was clear that while she worked within the framework of a traditional film festival, she had used that space to expand and explore into many different directions.

Moinak Biswas and Bina Paul

On the third day, Gargi Sen, founder of the Magic Lantern Foundation, a non-profit organization that is involved distributing documentaries in India, shared her experience of running the organization and curating one of the only festivals dedicated purely to documentary cinema, Persistence Resistance in Delhi annually. According to Gargi Sen, the role of the curator is like that of a seer, of predicting the future but with the materiality of the past. Expanding on this, she went on to speak of the distinction and similarities between the archivist and the curator. Her own work as a documentary filmmaker, distributor as well as a curator of documentary films informed her presentation about the documentary film movement in India as well as the notion of film distribution as curating of a certain kind. She spoke at length about the curatorial responsibility and the need to draw the audience in and make interventions within given practices.

Gargi Sen

Amar Kanwar’s introspective presentation on the fourth day opened up a whole new way of thinking about film curatorial practices. A practicing filmmaker/artist, Kanwar spoke about the whole question of curation by talking about his own experiences as a film maker and the process that his work takes. He spoke about the various dilemmas and traps that an artist/curator experiences, and how these experiences lead to the innovations of new forms and languages to express and present. He then showed some of his own works as a part of the presentation.

Amar Kanwar

On the 5th and the last day, Shai Heredia, a filmmaker and curator of film art, spoke about her own schizophrenic relationship with film as a researcher, archivist, filmmaker, activist, writer and curator. In 2003, she founded and curated Experimenta- the international film festival for Experimental film to explore the various aspects of the film form. She spoke about the various aspects of putting together a curatorial project and presented one of her curatorial packages “Kalpanae Yatra” a package that explored the relationship between space and cinema.

Shai Heredia

The various curators as well as other experts including Dr. Moinak Biswas from the Film Studies Department, Jadavpur University, Kolkata and Prof Shivji Pannikar, Dean of Humanities, Ambedkar University, Gurgaon interacted and responded with each other and the participants, thus creating a healthy atmosphere for debate and discussion. The experts whether from the field of film studies or art history or otherwise provided a theoretical framework at the end of each session and responded to the day’s session by placing it within a given context of film and art history and theory. All the five sessions were followed by presentations of curatorial projects by the participants and the responses of the resource persons and experts and other participants. This lead to some healthy discussion and debate about not only the projects but also to the rol of a curator, the role of the audience, the need to move out of accepted patterns of presenting films and to make interventions in given formats.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director CSMVS

Madhusree's session in progress

Moinak Biswas

Prabodh Parikh and Shai Heredia

Prof. Shivji Panniker, ACUA

Participants at the workshop

KCFS and Film Curatorial Practice

‘What do you do?’

‘<pause> I work at this place called Katha Centre for Film Studies <pause> I’m a Research Associate there <pause> We’re involved in a projected pertaining to Film Curatorial Practice.’

Some friends and family, largely don’t get it because I still haven’t figured out the simplest possible way to explain. Hoping to find one soon. Until then, hope this helps a little 🙂 for everything else there is Google 😉

Film curating is concerned with a more evolved understanding of the moving image. Film and video are artistic mediums – much like what canvas and brush are to a painter. Today, both filmmakers and visual artists work increasingly with the medium of the moving image to make their art works. In addition, museums and galleries are increasingly exhibiting moving image work – experimental film and installation; and video art and video installation. In fact, today the boundaries between the practice of visual art and film are blurred. Yet, while visual arts enjoy a relatively well-structured curatorial practice, film curatorial practice is still a new discipline in the country.  It is the artistic and aesthetic understanding of the moving image that KCFS is looking to develop through its curatorial projects.

Marking its first step towards the idea of developing a discourse around in film curation in the country, Katha Centre for Film Studies organized the first workshop on Film Curatorial Practice which was followed by a film festival curated by select workshop participants. The three-day workshop, conducted in association with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum from 12th – 14th Aug 2010, had Ravi Vasudevan, Avijit Mukul Kishore, Kabir Mohanty, Amrit Gangar, Shai Heredia and C.S. Venkiteswaran as resource persons who engaged the participants in interactive lectures aided by film clips and discussions. The idea behind this structure of the workshop was to not only base the sessions around resource persons’ papers but also evolve certain ideas through the discussion time that each module enjoyed.

However, practical implementation always brings about novel ideas and drawbacks. So post-workshop reflections and the feedback from participants and resource persons led KCFS to rethink and analyze the structure and purpose of the workshop. The restructured programme entailed that workshop on film curatorial practice be turned into a five-day event, instead of the three-day event (as it was in the first year of the curatorial project); also, the five-day workshop would be followed by another one-day follow-up workshop for the participants selected for the Curatorial Project Film Screenings.

Already, in the second year of the Curatorial Project, we successfully conducted the five-day workshop and the one-day follow-up workshop. Film Screenings shall start soon! More coming up on what the workshops were all about.

– Svetlana Naudiyal