Hard-Hitting. Edgy. Experimental.
These adjectives best describe the collection of indie Hindi cinema that Mumbai’s G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture will bring to you in its Cinema House 2023-24 edition. Cinema House is a film festival that celebrates the experience of collective film viewing. For one weekend a month, their black box theatre transforms into a single-screen theatre dedicated to regional, independent and contemporary cinema. Today, I will share with you the riveting line-up of films that will be showcased at the opening weekend of Cinema House 2023-24. Looking Ahead. During this weekend, the film festival will delve into how filmmakers portray their current experiences, challenges, and the urgency driving their art.
Venue: Black Box (G-5/A, Laxmi Mills Estate, Mahalakshmi West, Worli, Mumbai)
21st October (Saturday)
A Yugantar Film Collective Special
Time: 12 pm -2 pm
Yugantar Film Collective, founded in 1980 by Abha Bhaiya, Deepa Dhanraj, Meera Rao, and Navroze Contractor, stands as a pioneering force in the realm of Indian cinema. Collaborating with women's groups across the country, Yugantar not only crafted innovative filmmaking practices but also forged a political vocabulary that continues to reverberate in the present day.
The following four short films embodying the essence of Yugantar's vision will be screened.
First on the lineup is Molkarin, a powerful exposé shedding light on the oppressive working conditions endured by domestic workers in Pune. Through re-enactments of pivotal moments in the unionization process, the film chronicles the collective efforts of women workers and union activists as they establish the Pune Shahar Molkarin Sanghatana (Pune City Domestic Workers Union) to fight for their rights.
It will be followed with a screening of Tambaku Chaakila Oob Aali, a documentary that traces the history and strike actions of the all-women trade union comprising over 3000 tobacco workers in Nipani, Karnataka. Created in collaboration with female tobacco factory workers, this film captures the magnitude of one of the largest movements of unorganized labor during its time, igniting unionization processes across Karnataka and Maharashtra throughout the 1980s.
The third short film, Iddi Katha Maatramena takes us into the realm of fiction, marking Yugantar's foray into improvised storytelling. In partnership with the research and feminist activist collective Stree Shakhti Sanghatana, this film emerged from a pressing need to expand discourses and political practices surrounding domestic violence, which had predominantly focused on dowry deaths. The narrative revolves around the protagonist Lalita, a working woman burdened by societal expectations, including the pressure to bear a male child. Through this film, Yugantar shifted its horizons into the fiction format, collaborating with another collective primarily composed of middle-class women.
Lastly, is the screening of Sudesha, a poignant portrait of Sudesha Devi, a village activist in the Chipko forest conservation movement nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. In this region, people's livelihoods depend on the threatened forest, which faces destruction at the hands of powerful timber traders. While men work away from home, women shoulder the majority of the labor and emerge as active agents of the Chipko movement. Sudesha, navigating the challenges of family life and the rugged terrain of the mountains, fearlessly lives her life through protest, even enduring imprisonment.
Something Like a War by Deepa Dhanraj
Time: 3 pm - 4 pm
This thought-provoking documentary examines India's family planning program and its impact on women. It specifically focuses on coerced sterilizations, the opinions of Indian women regarding these programs, and the traditional family life of Indian women. The film highlights the challenges faced by women when they are not valued beyond their reproductive roles and addresses the objectification of women based on their sexuality and ability to reproduce. It also explores the government's influence in limiting the reproduction of certain groups of women, leading to feelings of shame and the concealment of menstruation. Through thought-provoking discussions among women, Something Like a War raises awareness about the reproductive rights of women in India.
Masterclass with Ashish Rajadhyaksha
Time: 6 pm - 8 pm
Renowned film historian Ashish Rajadhyaksha delves into the depths of his insightful book titled John Ghatak Tarkovsky: Citizens, Filmmakers, Hackers. This captivating piece of literature revolves around the backdrop of the momentous 2015 protests led by the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Rajadhyaksha's meticulous exploration delves into the profound impact of these protests and how the “low-resolution moving images” that came out of it redefined not just student activism but also the very essence of cinema itself.
22nd October (Sunday)
Chardi Kala – An Ode to Resilience by Prateek Shekhar
Time: 3 pm - 5:30 pm
Chardi Kala delves into the complexities of responding to blurred truths and misconstrued narratives, where facts have lost their meaning. It explores the challenges of engaging in dialogue amidst denialism and whataboutery while embodying resilience, grace, and dignity in the face of apathy. The film's screening is followed by a conversation with the team, offering an opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions about the film and foster collective understanding.
Insides And Outsides
Time: 6 pm - 8 pm
Set within an environment marked by escalating violence, discrimination, and disenfranchisement, Arbab delves into the lived experience of being a part of a minority group in India. The film skillfully navigates between two realms: the external world, where a relentless wave of hostility permeates all facets of life, and the internal realm, where Arbab and his parents grapple with redefining their sense of home amidst a shifting political landscape. Through its ebb and flow, the film offers a poignant exploration of the challenges faced by marginalized communities and the intricate dynamics of personal and political transformation.