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History of Indian Documentary Film

12 October 2011

SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES - Department of Anthropology and Sociology, London 

ETHNOGRAPHIC FILM SERIES: History of Indian Documentary Film
Wednesdays 1 PM, Khalili Lecture Theatre

This term’s film series covers a historical retrospective on Indian documentary filmmaking highlighting some of the key moments, filmmakers and films over the last 50 years. This series was selected in order to tie into a major film festival on contemporary documentary filming in India that will be held between 1-8 November. The festival, Persistence/Resistance: Documentary practices in India, will run in conjunction with the Magic Lantern Foundation, New Delhi ( at SOAS, University of Westminster, Goldsmiths, and LSE. The festival will feature the work of seven leading filmmakers from India through screenings, conversations, panel discussions and art installations. The festival will offer a rare chance for us at SOAS to meet and interact with these filmmakers and their work.

October 5 K.L. Khandpur, Through a Lens Starkly, 1996 (39 min).
Sukhdev, And Miles to Go…, 1965 (14 min)
S.N.S. Shastry, And I Make Short Films,1968 (16 min)
These are three classic films produced for the state run Films Division of India. The first gives an overview of the hostry of documentary film in India. The second portrays the democratic challenges of working together to work for the progress of the nation. And the third is a poetic meditation on the work of filmmakers for the Film Division.

October 12 Mani Kaul, Siddeswari 1989 (92 min)
This film about the great thumri singer Siddheshwari Devi (1902-66), broke conventional modes of biographical or documentary film making. Like a Sufi wanderer, it celebrates the life of exile. In so doing takes it the 'documentary' to its non-representational limits as part of an imaginative becoming of music.

October 19 Anand Patwardhan, Bombay, Our City, 1985.
This tells the story of the daily battle for survival of slum dwellers of Bombay who make up half the city's population. Although they are Bombay's main workforce of industrial labor, construction work, domestic servants, many face the constant threat of eviction as city authorities carry out campaigns to "beautify" Bombay.

October 26 Manjira Dutta, The Sacrifice of Babulal Bhuiyan, 1988 (64 min)
This film is an investigation of the murder of Babulal, who was shot dead by industrial security guards employed by owners of a coal dust recycling plant.

November 3 Deepa Dhanraj, Something Like a War, 1991, 52 min.
A historical overview of India's coercive Family Planning program and its effect on women. The filmmaker will be present at the screening.

November 16 Reena Mohan, Kamala Bai, 1992 (46 min)
A documentary about the silent screen star Kamalabai Gokhale.

November 23 Nilita Vachani, Diamonds in a Vegetable Market, 1992 (68 min)
This film offers a behind-the-scenes look the sellers who crowd an inter-state bus terminal, selling wares as variegated as their own life stories.

November 30 R. V. Ramani, If I Die, 1996 (58 min)
The filmmaker portrays Shihan Hussaini, a Karate exponent and an aspiring actor, who performs 'sensational' events to draw attention to issues that he considers important.

December 7 K.P. Jayasankar and Anjali Monteiro, Naata, The Bond, 2003 (45 min)
This film follows two activists, who have been involved in conflict resolution, working with neighbourhood peace committees in Dharavi, Mumbai, reputedly, the largest ‘slum’ in Asia. In so doing this film reflexively explores the collective production of a community video project.

December 14 Paromita Vohra, Partners in Crime, 2011 (94 min)
Is video piracy organized crime or class struggle? This film considers the grey horizons of copyright and culture during times when technology is changing the contours of the market.