Cel­e­brat­ing the his­tory of ex­per­i­men­tal cin­ema

The Sunday Guardian - - Artbeat - COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Dubbed as In­dia’s first and only in­ter­na­tional bi­en­nial cel­e­brat­ing ex­per­i­men­tal films and mov­ing im­age art in In­dia, “Ex­per­i­menta” kicks off on Tues­day.

The fes­ti­val of­fers over 70 con­tem­po­rary and rare his­tor­i­cal films from across the world over six days at the Goethe In­sti­tut Max Mueller Bha­van here. The pro­gramme sec­tions in­clude Artist Pro­files and Talks, Cu­rated Pro­grams, In­ter­na­tional Com­pe­ti­tion, Fea­ture Fo­cus and Per­for­mances.

In its en­deav­our to cel­e­brate the his­tory of ex­per­i­men­tal cin­ema, the fes­ti­val will screen rarely seen archival restora­tions of crit­i­cally ac­claimed films from Mozam­bique, Al­ge­ria, the US, Italy and In­dia.

The in­au­gu­ral films Mo­nangam­breee by Sarah Moldoror ( 1969, Al­ge­ria) and Mueda, Me­mo­ria E Mas­sacre by Ruy Guerra (1979, Mozam­bique), cu­rated by aca­demic Ni­cole Wolf (Ger­many) will be pre­sented on Tues­day evening. Both films pro­pose a pow­er­ful role for cin­ema in pre­car­i­ous times. They emerge from Africa’s re­sis­tance against Por­tuguese colo­nial­ism and are riv­et­ing doc­u­ments of the pe­riod. As mark­ers of his­tor­i­cal mo­ments of rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion, they are aligned with de­sires of lib­er­a­tion, independence and rev­o­lu­tion both po­lit­i­cally and aes­thet­i­cally.

In the Fea­ture Fo­cus sec­tion, Uday Shankar’s mas­ter­piece Kal­pana (1948, In­dia) re­cently re­stored by Martin Scors­ese’s World Cin­ema Project, will be pre­sented.

“A great work of hal­lu­ci­na­tory, homemade ex­pres­sion­ism and ec­static beauty, Uday Shankar’s Kal­pana is one of the en­dur­ing clas­sics of In­dian cin­ema and is re­garded as a cre­ative peak in the his­tory of in­de­pen­dent In­dian film­mak­ing,” Martin Scors­ese said in a state­ment. Fea­tured in the Artist Pro­file sec­tion is the ex­tra­or­di­nary body of work of Los An­ge­les based artist Chick Strand (1931-2009), cu­rated and re­stored by Mark Toscano, con­ser­va­tion­ist at the Academy Film Ar­chive (Los An­ge­les).

“From her early ex­per­i­ments with im­age ma­nip­u­la­tion to her sur­re­al­ist ethno­graphic films, Chick Strand’s works ad­dress no­tions of sen­su­al­ity, ri­tual, sur­vival, fe­male strength and de­sire, moral­ity, hu­man­ity, au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, what unites us, what sep­a­rates us, what fas­ci­nates us, what re­pels us,” said Toscano. The clos­ing film to­day evening will be Ar­gen­tine film­maker Fer­nando Birri’s epic ex­per­i­men­tal fea­ture ORG (1967-1978), a mon­strous, nearly three-hour long film that’s only rarely been screened since it pre­miered at the 1979 Venice Film Fes­ti­val.

Birri is also a poet, pain­ter, teacher and film school founder and is a key fig­ure in Latin Amer­i­can cin­ema. For Birri, ORG was the re­sult of his ex­pe­ri­ence of ex­ile in Italy. ORG is an ex­per­i­ment in per­cep­tion that fea­tures over 26,000 cuts and some 700 au­dio tracks. Founded in 2003 as an an­nual fes­ti­val, and then be­com­ing a bi­en­nial from 2007, this ground­break­ing fes­ti­val is cel­e­brat­ing its 10th edi­tion this year.

One of the most re­spected and crit­i­cally ac­claimed in­de­pen­dent film fes­ti­vals in In­dia, it is founded by film­maker Shai Here­dia in col­lab­o­ra­tion with artists, cu­ra­tors, film­mak­ers and art ed­u­ca­tors. The fes­ti­val has nur­tured mov­ing im­age art in In­dia and has been re­spon­si­ble for putting In­dian ex­per­i­men­tal film­mak­ers on the in­ter­na­tional scene. IANS

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