Fine cuts

Noted doc­u­men­tary film­maker Reena Mo­han was in the city re­cently for a class on edit­ing

The Hindu - - CINEMA PLUS - Sri­vat­san S

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“Doc­u­men­tary edit­ing is not about join­ing and cut­ting. It’s look­ing at the ma­te­rial with a fresh eye and nav­i­gat­ing your way through it,” said award-win­ning in­de­pen­dent film­maker Reena Mo­han, who was in the city to de­liver a mas­ter­class on Doc­u­men­tary Edit­ing as a part of Chen­nai In­ter­na­tional Doc­u­men­tary and Short Film Fes­ti­val, or­gan­ised by Goethe-In­sti­tute in as­so­ci­a­tion with film ac­tivist group Maru­pakkam.

Reena started the ses­sion by screen­ing her doc­u­men­tary which tracks the jour­ney of a 33-year-old Jignya, who sheds her ma­te­ri­al­is­tic life to be­come a Jain Sad­hvi in Allahabad. Reena pur­posely chose this doc­u­men­tary among her other work since it qual­i­fied more as an “ob­ser­va­tional doc­u­men­tary”. Elab­o­rat­ing fur­ther, she said, “The film in­tro­duces one to doc­u­men­tary edit­ing. That’s where the en­tire film takes shape and is re-scripted. Even though you fol­low a pro­ce­dure while mak­ing the film, it changes dra­mat­i­cally at the edit­ing ta­ble.”

On An Ex­press High­way,

When Reena worked on the project back in the 90s, she was de­nied per­mis­sion by the Jain Sad­hvi group to film them. De­spite the dead­line, she was per­sis­tent about telling Jignya’s story to the world. Shedding some light on the chal­lenges she faced, Reena said that she spent nearly six months with Jignya and her fam­ily to un­der­stand their world. Ac­cord­ing to the film­maker, there’s a rea­son why it was ti­tled In one of her in­ter­views with Jignya, the lat­ter opened up and said, “I’m sac­ri­fic­ing noth­ing. In­stead,

I'm gain­ing some­thing, which makes me feel

I'm on an ex­press high­way.” Dur­ing the mak­ing, the film­maker op­er­ated in a cer­tain way to com­pose the shots.

For ex­am­ple, she chose to use am­bi­ent noises and static im­ages to show the empti­ness in the lives of Jignya’s fam­ily af­ter her even­tual nun­hood.

About her edit­ing style, Reena said, “I don’t edit my films. I nor­mally work with other ed­i­tors for projects that I di­rect be­cause I feel they bring a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive to my story. And by the time you’re done with the shoot, you’re al­most ex­hausted.”

The sec­ond film that was screened was

pro­duced by the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Women in Ra­dio and Tele­vi­sion, which doc­u­ments the lives of women jour­nal­ists across the world. For this doc­u­men­tary, Reena donned the hat of an ed­i­tor. How dif­fer­ent was the ap­proach when she sat at the edit ta­ble? “We asked the film­mak­ers to send us the sub­ti­tled, un-sub­ti­tled ver­sions as well as the rushes. We had to shrunk each sto­ries and there were cer­tain things that needed to be added. So, the process was largely back-and­forth.”

On An Ex­press High­way. Rev­o­lu­tion,

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I don’t edit films that I di­rect. I work with other ed­i­tors for those projects be­cause I feel they bring a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive to my story

Vel­vet

Reena Mo­han dur­ing the ses­sion

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