When cinema is reduced to a mere source of entertainment and not an art form, experimentation with the medium ceases to take place. Mainstream Bollywood and Hollywood take recourse in tried and tested methods of film-making that package the same content in the same format enacted by the star-studded cast of familiar faces, which the viewers are more than happy to consume. This breeds stagnation. As a result, creating off-beat experimental films is the call of the hour.
But there is no denying the fact that one of the main purposes of a movie is to make money. Without funds, even the greatest of scripts do not translate themselves into films. This is why making experimental films is often viewed as a ‘risky venture’, as they do not bring in a ‘blockbuster’ level of money and viewer loyalty. Let’s face it, in India, even if a movie has no plot, no logic, or even any quality acting, all you’d need to do is slap a poster of a Baadshah or a Bhai, and the film will rake in money like a Las Vegas casino. In such dire times, as cine lovers, we must be a patron, promote, or even simply watch contemporary experimental films that are not just money-making machinery but a truer reflection of the life and times we live in.
With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to the Emami Art Experimental Film Festival (EAEFF) which is set to captivate audiences once again with its eagerly anticipated return. Following the resounding success of its debut edition last year, this five-day event promises to be a vibrant celebration of Indian and international experimental films, offering a platform for groundbreaking cinematic expressions.
Richa Agarwal, CEO, Emami Art
Conceived by Ushmita Sahu, Director and Head Curator of Emami Art, the festival has expanded its scope this year to encompass a diverse array of cinematic experiences. With a lineup featuring twenty-two films in the competitive section, along with thirty-three Indian and international films across seven curated sections, the EAEFF 23 is poised to be a melting pot of creativity, multiculturalism and innovation.
Ushmita Sahu envisions the Emami Art Experimental Film Festival as a discursive space for understanding moving images as an art form echoing the sentiment that films should be conceived as mediums beyond just entertainment. Recognizing the dearth of platforms that fully embrace experimental, alternative, and independent films in India, Sahu emphasizes the importance of recognizing and supporting visual representations that defy categorization. The festival aims to foster interdisciplinary dialogues and provide exposure to contemporary experimental practices, both from India and around the world.
Raju Roychowdhury, the Festival Director, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the festival's goal of offering an indispensable experience that fosters vivid imaginativeness and emotional energy. With curated programs from Germany, Southeast Asia, Canada, and Northeast India, the festival promises to expand the audience's intimacy with the cinematic medium not only in India but around the world.
The EAEFF 23 All India Open Call received an overwhelming response, with over three hundred entries from across the country. A jury comprising Indian filmmaker Ashish Avikunthak, Canadian experiential filmmaker Solomon Nagler, and Festival Director Raju Roychowdhury selected twenty-two outstanding entries for the competitive section. Additionally, two films were awarded excellence in the short to mid-duration and long-duration categories, showcasing the wealth of talent and creativity in the Indian experimental film landscape.
The festival's curated sessions will feature thirty-three Indian and international films across seven sections, curated by filmmakers of international renown. From exploring myths in Southeast Asia to delving into Canadian experimental film and examining the relationship between socio-political reality and collective memory in East and Northeast India, these sessions promise to offer a rich tapestry of cinematic experiences.
German artist and filmmaker Wolfgang Lehmann takes center stage as the EAEFF 23 Filmmaker in Focus, presenting a selection of films and masterclasses that delve into the artistic strategies of working with film and video as material. In addition to the screenings, the festival will feature a special tribute to Argentinian experimental filmmaker and musician Claudio Caldini, masterclasses by renowned figures in experimental filmmaking, and engaging panel discussions, offering a holistic and immersive experience for cinephiles and creators alike.
The Emami Art Experimental Film Festival 2023 is made possible through the support of the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata, The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and The Swedish Arts Grants Committee, underscoring the festival's commitment to fostering international collaborations.
Emami Art Experimental Film Festival 2023
Date: 22nd – 26th November
Venue: 4th Floor, Emami Art
Click here to view the detailed brochure.
Find out more about Emami Art Gallery here.