“Imaging Asia” to screen and discuss films from the continent

To commemorate its 20th anniversary, Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema is hosting a multi-faceted event in the Capital beginning August 18. It features an international conference and a series of cinematic events over five days at seven different venues in Delhi.

To acknowledge the rich diversity of Asian cinema, “Imaging Asia” will include a four-day conference on “The culture and politics of Asian cinema” in addition to screening of meaningful films from India and abroad.

A major highlight will be the traditional picture story-telling from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran and the host country with focus on the forms that existed before the technical invention of cinema.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Network president Aruna Vasudev said the organisation was set up in 1990 coinciding with the Asian cinema renaissance. “It took under its wing Cinemaya, which provided a forum for mostly Asian critics, writers and scholars to document and evaluate Asian films. Instead of organising just the conference, we thought of screening films that won NETPAC awards. Thirty-one films will be screened,” she said.

Ms. Vasudev said the conference would discuss the need for film financiers to understand the nuances and culture of the country whose film they are sponsoring. “We will look at different aspects of film-making, new technologies and what is happening to old cinema. Before screening, we will give the director or critic an opportunity to talk about the film. There will be a question-answer session after the screening.”

Asian Heritage Foundation Chairman Rajeev Sethi said: “The conference is principally about cinema. I share a love-hate relationship with the Bombay film industry. But there is a tendency these days to categorise all films as Bollywood. If regional films start imitating what Bollywood produces then I am afraid it would sound the death-knell of the industry.”

Mr. Sethi said because of our grounding in traditional story-telling as epitomised by the Bhopas of Rajasthan, Patuas of Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, and Padagollus of Telangana, cinema as the latest mode of story-telling came in spontaneously as an electronic extension of the folk. Mr. Sethi said the task was not to “museumise” art but seek to prioritise both the art and the artistes. Essentially, the exhibits are performative props becoming live with the participation of an interactive audience. Improvisations rule the roost, while people internalise their experiences. As such these jewels are a befitting precursor to the latest technologies of story-telling.

The event will be held at IGNCA, Instituto Cervantes, Alliance Francaise, India Habitat Centre and India International Centre. Kamani Auditorium and Azad Bhavan are the other venues.