At the JIO-MAMI film festival 2017

Political and artistic visions

MAMI’s New Medium section will focus on the unique concept of footage films

Last year, city-based artist studio Camp began The New Medium section at the Jio MAMI Film Festival with Star. Dedicated to showing experimental and innovative filmmaking, the section had kicked off with a screening of a restored print of Dziga Vertov’s 1929 documentary Man With A Movie Camera soundtracked live by the Vitaliy Tkachuk Quartet from Ukraine. This year, the theme of the section is ‘Footage Films’. Shaina Anand, co-founder of Camp and curator of this section, strenuously made the distinction between found footage and footage films, a term she has coined.

“Often we hear the term found footage thrown about loosely,” said Anand in an email interview. “In each of the films you will see in the collection, the artist or filmmaker did not just stumble across the footage on a walk to the neighbourhood garbage dump, or in a water-damaged family trunk. There was a precise artistic and political vision behind its quest. In each case, the artist or filmmaker turned the material into something else, formally and often in intent and meaning.” The programme consists of 14 films that make heavy use of footage such as archival material, news reels, surveillance recordings and so on. It’s in keeping with Camp’s agenda, a large of part of which has been to create and build two film archives — Pad.ma, which has more than 5,000 pieces of footage contributed by filmmakers, artists and scholars; and Indiacine.ma, a collection of Indian films and an index of more than 37,000 films made in the country.

The section will be headlined by two films: The Hour of the Furnaces (1968), a revolutionary documentary by Argentinian filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino on Latin American politics, and The Society of the Spectacle (1973), a critique of mass consumption by French writer and director Guy Debord. “There is a chronological thread that runs through the programme,” Anand said. “These two early and seminal films set the stage, and perhaps the extreme limits of what can be done with footage. From there on you will experience a history of media technologies, (in the use of certain mediums and certain types of recordings), often made by the state, and repurposed to other ends by the makers.”

Among the line-up are films such as French video artist Philippe Rouy’s Fukushima trilogy (2012-2014) on the 2011 nuclear disaster that took place in Japan; American director Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003), a video essay on how the city is shown in movies; Dreams Rewired (2015), a montage of films made between the 1880s and 1930s by Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart and Thomas Tode on the anxieties brought on by technology; and The Specialist: Portrait of a Modern Criminal (1999), Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan’s documentary on the trial of the Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann.

Aside from the screenings, the section has three events. First off is ‘CCTV Landscape from Lower Parel’. The feed from a camera attached to the roof of PVR in Phoenix Mills will be screened inside the IMAX cinema. Over an hour and a half, Anand and her colleagues at Camp, co-founder Ashok Sukumaran and Simpreet Singh, will narrate, “a story of a city, from water to land, from port to mill, from labour unions, to consumption spaces.”

Filmmaker Kamal Swaroop will present ‘Dada’, a multi-media archival project on Dadasaheb Phalke. Swaroop, who is most famous for his absurdist movie Om-Dar-B-Dar (1988) and who directed Rangbhoomi (2013), a film on Phalke, began collecting material and images on the early 20th-century director over a decade ago. Film school students from across the country have added to it to compile a storyboard of Phalke’s life and work.

And ‘From The Mediastorm’ will be a discussion with four members of Mediastorm, an erstwhile collective of women documentary filmmakers formed in 1985. The directors, Shikha Jhingan, Sabina Gadihoke, Saina Kidwai, Ranjani Mazumdar, Shohini Ghosh and Charu Gargi, all of whom either teach or write on cinema, were batchmates from the Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi. At the event, Mazumdar, Ghosh, Jhingan and Gargi, will talk about their work and screen a 70-minute mash-up of three Mediastorm films, In Secular India (1986), about the Shah Bano case; Whose Country Is It Anyway? (1991), on the rise of the Hindu right; and From The Burning Embers (1998), about Roop Kanwar, a Rajput woman who was forced to commit sati in 1987.

CCTV Landscapes from Lower Parel with Camp will screen today and on October 16 at PVR IMAX, Lower Parel at 5.30 p.m.; for more details see the schedule at www.mumbaifilmfestival.com

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