Every time we say good bye – Prabodh

KCFS in its present form, focused on Film Curatorial Practices, is saying goodbye (must remember the Ella Fitzgerald song ‘Every time we say good bye’). After six years of its active presence in the city of Mumbai, with so many energetic and skilled saathidars (young), as my associates, the six years passed by as magically as cinema goes. We were able to make our presence felt, in and around, on and off, more or less. What with extraordinary retrospectives and festivals, in more than twenty five institutions of the city of Mumbai, bringing on screen the films of Bela Tarr, Fassbinder, Tarkvosky, Ghatak, Mani Kaul and other filmmakers who’s work provokes us to cherish the experience of having seen their works. We were involved in curating, debating and dialoguing around all the screenings (what more than three to four hundred films and sometimes with the audience of just twenty attentive faces).

This is the time of thanksgiving.. to Geeta Dharamrajan for dreaming and making this project real, Shai Heredia and IFA for making it continue as an unusual experiment. of course none of this would have happened but for the research associates who were involved passionately, Deepti Dcunha, Subuhi Jiwani, Devdutt Trivedi, Iyesha Abbas, Ananya Parikh, Khaliq Parkar and Svetlana. All these young ones who take cinema as a way of life are on with their onward journey, involved academically or as curators in the world of cinema.

Just as i informed you in 2005 of initiating this, I thought it would be a good idea for you to know that I am now watching the world pass by from the window and KCFS is taking out a procession for it to be continued.

I am sure it will, in one way or the other.

 

– Prabodh Parikh

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Introducing our Curators

Finally, the Curatorial Project Film Festival is on its way. Two workshops later, our five young curators are ready with their day-long events. Mark it on your calendar..! – 18th and 25th Feb, 3rd, 10th and 17th March at Whistling Woods International, Film City, Goregaon and  24th March at Edward Theatre, Kalbadevi.

For the detailed schedule click here

The Curtorial Project Film Festival is in continuation with the Film Curatorial Practices workshop series, both are a part of a four-year Curatorship Programme conceptualized by India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) in collaboration with select institutions from across the country. The Curatorial Project Film Festival is being held in collaboration with Whistling Woods International and also at a day-long event at Edward Theatre in association with Enlighten Film Society.

Festival open to one and all.. no registrations, no tickets..!

Here’s introducing you to our Curators.

18th Feb: Familiar Strangers

Srajana Kaikini

Srajana Kaikini , currently completing her Masters in Arts and Aesthetics from Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi , is an architect by graduation and a classical Odissi dancer by passion. An avid cineaste, she writes on cinema and art and is involved in new media art practices as an artist. Her latest curatorial venture was exploring the liminal zones of sleep, titled ‘Adventures of a narcoleptic flaneur’ which was exhibited in JNU. She also writes prose, poetry and reflections, some of which trickle their way into her blog. Spontaneous encounters and illegible signatures are among many other little things that capture her imagination.

Curatorial Note:

Where is the Friend's Home - Abbas Kiraostami

“Then came a craving desire to keep the man in view — to know more of him. Hurriedly putting on an overcoat, and seizing my hat and cane, I made my way into the street, and pushed through the crowd in the direction which I had seen him take; for he had already disappeared.”- -Edgar Allan Poe, “The man of the crowd”

This curatorial endeavor seeks to see how, any community , which for every individual, is made of friends and strangers, the known and the unknown, also holds its own milieu of the ‘familiar strangers’ and the unseen crowd that are always in connection to the individual. Therefore, here are brought together films that explore this concept of how a community constantly is in conversation with each other and probe unseen bonds , which, are each person’s ‘emotional security’ and at the same time, an ‘exit clause’ always at his disposal.

24th and 25th Feb: A bit of I, A bit of me

Afrah Shafiq

Afrah Shafiq graduated with a degree in Literature, Psychology and Media Studies and a Masters in Audio Visual Communication. Her interest lies in the field of documentary and non-fiction film narratives, where she presently works as a researcher and assistant. She is preoccupied with the idea of contradictions, memories, loneliness, big cities, small neighborhoods and gender.

Curatorial Note: 

Desperately Seeking Helen - Eisha Marjara

The programme includes a collection of documentary work that is in one way or the other a cinematic rendition of the self. These subjective truths with generous doses of reality, explore the practice where the filmmaker chooses to face the camera and implicate themselves in their own work and the teller becomes inseparable from what is being told.

The films here often replace the traditional journal and the performative self becomes a means for exploring people and places, faces and landscapes while almost always linking their everyday to a broader social order.

While revealing the distinct presence of the artist in their own work these films complicate how non-fiction film and video represent and make references to the real world and through that process also attempt to challenge what a documentary film should look and sound like.


3rd March: Emerging unheard voices of Indian Cinema

Manjeet Singh

A qualified engineer (MS, Mechanical Engineering, USA) Manjeet left his job at the General Electric company and moved back to his hometown Mumbai to make films in 2006, after he was completely absorbed by the medium of Cinema during a short film making course at New York Film Academy. He realized that if did anything else in life it would be a complete waste of time and efforts.  Since then he has traveled throughout India, researching human struggles, turning them into scripts; made short films; wrote Cinema blogs and worked on films of filmmakers, Anurag Kashyap, Pavan Kaul and others.  His other passions include painting and playing Tabla. Manjeet aspires to curate film festivals to promote pure Cinema, which underlines the basic human struggles. He strongly feels the need of alternative avenue for the release of art house films in India and wants to work for its cause. ‘Mumbai Cha Raja’ is his debut feature film. 

Curatorial Note:

Carnival - Madhuja Mukherjee

The idea is to showcase fiercely independent films emerging from India, which are honest; have captured the character’s expressions intimately; broken new grounds in story telling; remain unnoticed in India even tough, the they might have travelled to reputed film festivals abroad and in India. The films could be documentaries, fiction, shorts, feature lengths, in regional languages, etc. The film-makers could also be present for the screenings for an interactive session. This would make the event insightful about the process of making films; the problems encountered; etc.

A brainstorming session on making the art house cinema accessible to common people and developing cinema culture in India. Methods to have a release mechanism for alternate cinema. A discussion on making films on low budgets incorporating digital medium; the need of collective collaborative efforts to tell important human stories, which conventional producers fear to invest in.

10th March: Sonic Silences, Soundscape and Cinema

Geetha B

Assistant Professor at the Department of Languages of Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani and has tweleve years of teaching experience.  Her areas of academic interest include Literature & Film Studies, Comparative Literature, Modern Indian Drama, Media and Communication on which she has published.  She is guiding dissertation in the area of  literature and cinema at doctoral, masters and undergraduate levels.  She teaches courses in the area of literature, cinema, communication and film making. She writes and her poems have been published in various anthologies. She is into photography and film curating. Presently she is designing a course in Humanities and Design.

Curatorial Note: 

2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that dips itself into sonic silences. The initial silence in the sequence before the monolith encounters the ape men is intriguing.  While the music is used to evoke feelings of awe, almost reverence for the unknown, the silences are used to further accentuate these experiences. Film viewing experience of this work is complete only when one understands the nuances of both its silences and its music content. The cuing of musical episodes and the juxtaposing of these elements with extended periods of silence make the film special in this context.

Satantango by Bela Tarr is an epic 7 hours and 12 minutes and is painstakingly choreographed and shot in black and white. The initial sequence begins with with a stretched sonic silence and barring the few incidental sounds there is no other sound in first nine and half minutes.

In the mood for love - Wong Kar Wai

I plan to complete this journey into silences in flms with Mani Kaul’s 1989 film Siddeshwari.  While the film may not offer strictly ‘silent’ moments, but with meditative pace and the beauty of an abstract painting, it lets us reflect upon the idea of quietness in films.   By keeping this film in my programme, I wish to draw the audience’s attention to the brilliant use of sound track that never intrudes the tranquillity and quietness of the moments.


17th March: Food and Cinema

Atika Chohan

Atika Chohan is an independent screen writer and cinema curator based in Mumbai. Atika worked with Yash Raj Productions as a writer on the acclaimed Sony TV series “Rishta.com”. She started her career in Delhi as a journalist with the national daily, The Hindu, and later worked with the news channel CNN IBN. She studied screen-writing at FTII, Pune and has a Master’s degree in English Literature from Delhi University.

Curatorial Note:

Eat Drink Man Woman - Ang Lee

Visually, food is the only other sensorial that creates an onscreen impact as strong as sex and violence, and since it’s the least controversial theme and not just comparatively, it finds an easy access with any class of audience. Hence, food-films become a greater tool for sensitising a large number of people in one go, whetting their appetite, as it were, for themes with far deeper undercurrents than the onscreen representation of boiling and chopping and sauté-ing. Food in films encode a metaphor for survival, a necessity that makes people around the world take strong decisions and works as a default anthropological tool. It helps us interpret the psychological stance of a nation, community or even individual.

The idea is to showcase fiercely independent films emerging from India, which are honest; have captured the character’s expressions intimately; broken new grounds in story telling; remain unnoticed in India even tough, the they might have travelled to reputed film festivals abroad and in India. The films could be documentaries, fiction, shorts, feature lengths, in regional languages, etc. The film-makers could also be present for the screenings for an interactive session. This would make the event insightful about the process of making films; the problems encountered; etc. A brainstorming session on making the art house cinema accessible to common people and developing cinema culture in India. Methods to have a release mechanism for alternate cinema. A discussion on making films on low budgets incorporating digital medium; the need of collective collaborative efforts to tell important human stories, which conventional producers fear to invest in.

* Please note, that timings are subject to change in case of certain unavoidable situations

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