Where will you find the Indian gaur, the Aadhaar project, Kerala farmers, arranged marriage, Lal Ded and capital punishment all under one roof?
At the Open Frame documentary festival in Delhi. The annual showcase of films that have been produced over the last year by the non-profit Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) will be held from 7-11 September at the India International Centre in Delhi. In its 12th edition, the festival will show 33 documentaries. Don’t let the section titles, including “The Politics of Freedom”, “The Burdens of Modernity” and “The State of Surveillance And the Contested Self”, scare you. They contain films that address present-day concerns through a variety of narrative styles.
The directors range from heavy-hitters like Santosh Sivan, Mita Vashisht, M.K. Raina and M.S. Sathyu to younger film-makers like Umadevi N. Tanuku, Anupama Srinivasan and Shakeb Ahmed. Sivan’s Farmer From Kuttanad (7 September, 6.30pm) follows a cultivator in the south Kerala region, while Vashisht, who has previously directed a stage production on the Kashmiri poet Lal Ded, will further explore the life and philosophy of the 14th century mystic in the documentary She of the Four Names (10 September, 4.30pm). Sathyu’s The Right to Live (8 September, 12.30pm) makes a case against capital punishment. Raina’s Mann Faqeer (11 September, 7.15pm) looks at the confluence of Islam, Shaivism and Buddhism in Kashmir.
Tanku’s Night Hawks (11 September, 5.45pm) explores after-hours Delhi through such people as a vegetable seller, brass-band members and a police patrol unit. Subasri Krishnan’s This Or That Particular Person (8 September, 11.30am) wonders what the Aadhaar project means for Indian citizens. Gaur in My Garden (7 September, 2pm) looks at the conflict between man and beast in Kotagiri in the Nilgiris. Pushpa Rawat’s and Anupama Srinivasan’s take on the lack of choices for working-class women in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, is Nirnay (7 September, 3.30pm). Shakeb Ahmed’s Tales From a Place Less Travelled (8 September, 10am) finds out how Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh has become inextricably associated with terrorism. Geetika Narang Abbasi and Anandana Kapur take on the time-tested institution of arranged marriage in Much Ado About Knotting (7 September, 5pm).
One set of films looks at the performing arts. Ramachandra P.N.’s Rice And Rasam (9 September, 11am) follows the fortunes of a touring theatre company, while Nimesh Desai’s The Ageless Tramp discovers that the legend of Charlie Chaplin is alive and well in Adipur in Gujarat (9 September, 12.30pm). Documentaries about communities will look at the Manipuri Jews (A Prayer for Aliyah; 10 September, 2.45pm) and the Hussaini Brahmins (Vessels of Memory, Keepers of Faith; 10 September, 3.30pm).
The screenings will be complemented by discussions. A screening of Ani Thomas’ Memories And Forgetfulness (9 September, 4.15pm), about migrants in Delhi, will be followed by a conversation between Thomas and film-maker Samina Mishra. After Vani Subramanian’s Stir. Fry. Simmer. (9 September, 6.15pm), which looks at issues related to food security, Anjali Bhatia, a sociology professor at the Lady Shri Ram College for Women, will debate “The Politics of Food”.
The festival is free, except for a film appreciation course that will be conducted by film historian Suresh Chabria.
For the full schedule and to register for the course, visit www.psbt.org.