Over five weekends through January and February, the India Foundation for the Arts will showcase in Bangalore 10 documentary films, most of which analyse or question, in some way, traditional art.
“We have looked at the questions the film-makers are asking in their works and have leaned towards works that have some analytical framework as opposed to being simply documentary pieces,” says Anuja Ghosalkar, programme officer, arts research and documentation programme. Most of the films have been supported through this programme.
The film festival will begin on Sunday with Bishar Blues, a 90-minute film on the fakirs of West Bengal, their music and lifestyle. “I shot the film in 2004. Although I knew of the singing fakirs all along, over time I realized that what they were saying through their songs was very important,” says Amitabh Chakraborty, who shot the film over a period of a month and a half.
On 8 January, The Other Song, a film by Saba Dewan, will be screened. It’s a thumri sung by Rasoolan Bai in 1935 for a gramophone recording—and never sung again. The film tries to search for the lost song. Maya Bazaar, a film on the 120-year-old travelling theatre company Surabhi from Andhra Pradesh, will follow the next day. On the same day, Out of Thin Air, by Shabani Hassanwalia, a film on the dynamic local film movement of Ladakh, will be shown.
City of Photos by Nishita Jain, which explores studios across the country will be screened on 23 January and a film on street theatre, Natak Jari Hai, will be shown on 12 February. Rasiken Re, by Pooja Kaul, on the attraction between a young girl and an older man, will be shown on the same day and Kitte Mill Ve Mahi, a film on Dalits in Punjab, the next day.
The festival will end with The Listener’s Tale by Arghya Basu on the sacred theatre dance, Chham, on 19 February, and with Nee Enge by the Chennai-based cinematographer and film-maker R.V. Ramani, who has been researching shadow puppeteers in south India since late 1998. The film documents the lives and work of the artistes, the art form, and its increasing commercialization.
All the films will be shown at the National Gallery of Modern Art. Entry is free.