The first dance film festival ‘Manifest’, featuring a selection of international films from the emerging genre, got under way at Alliance Française on Friday.
‘Manifest’ began with the screening of Downriver (Switzerland/Andrea Boll) that encapsulated the hallmarks of the dance film genre, where movement and rhythm, instead of dialogue, is the pivot of storytelling. The short film shows a group of people struggling to emerge from the downstream, and later, as the scene shifts to a crowded city street, they resist the tide of humanity for a while before they are overwhelmed and surrender to the flow.
The three-day festival, hosted by AuroApaar, a dance film collective, will showcase about 40 acclaimed dance films from all over the world. A highlight of the show at Auroville’s Cinema Paradiso on Saturday will be the screening of Uday Shankar’s iconic Kalpana (1948), regarded as the deﬁnitive Indian dance ﬁlm, accompanied by a presentation by his grandson Ratul Shankar.
Ashavari Majumdar, co-founder of AuroApaar, noted that organising such a festival during the run-up to the 75 th Independence anniversary celebrations tied into the collective’s larger plan of developing an Indian aesthetic that fused the classical with the contemporary. Though the country attained political independence, the process of decolonisation of contemporary art and culture from its predominantly Euro-centric aesthetic was still an ongoing process, she said.
Dancer-choreographer Anita Ratnam, whose dance portal ‘Narthaki’ is an event partner, said the dance film festival was a long overdue event, especially given the country’s deep and diverse traditions of dance forms from the tribal and ritual to the folk and the classical.
Satish Nallam, president of Alliance Française, and Gopal Jayaraman, regional director of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, also spoke.
While the festival provides exposure to the genre, which has been taken up as a serious art in the post-pandemic world, especially in Europe, where a bunch of radical filmmakers are creating contemporary, experimental cinema, an incubator segment will mentor aspirants to make dance films with a focus on Indian forms. Select films will also be provided a screening platform.
The festival is supported by Alliance Française, the IGNCA and city-based TASMAI, a centre for art and culture. Apart from screening, there will be discussions, Q&A sessions, including online interfaces with participants from all over the world and academic presentations.