EXPERIMENTA 2006 – 4th festival of Experimental Cinema in India
February 15-19, Cultural Centre of Russia, The Fourth Floor Kitab Mahal
Festival Director: Shai Heredia in collaboration with No.w.here UK, Max Mueller Bhavan; India, Cultural Centre of Russia; India and the British Council India; UK
Supported by Kodak India and Sula Vineyards
FILM ARTIST PHALKE 100min
Curated by Kamal Swaroop
Raja Harishchandra India 1913 35mm silent b/w 20mins
The film opens with a Ravi Varma like tableau showing King Harishchandra, his wife Taramati and his young son. The king is teaching his son archery. They go on a hunt. The king enters an area controlled by the Sage Vishwamitra. Three fairies appear before the king caught in flames. The king tries to rescue them. These fairies try to seduce the king into renouncing his kingdom for his love of truth. The king endures much hardship including being banished from his kingdom before a god appears to reassure everyone that the whole narrative was merely a test of the king’s integrity.
Lanka Dahan India 1917 35mm b/w silent 9mins
A mythological retelling of the familiar ‘Ramayana’ story of Rama’s wife Sita being abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, and Rama’s triumph with the aid of men, monkeys and bears. From the trees, Hanuman the brave monkey observes Sita held captive in the Tulsi garden where Ravana comes to molest her. The main part of the film covers Hanuman’s rage while in Lanka when he set the whole island afire with his burning tail.
Sri Krishna Janam India 1918 35mm b/w silent 6mins
This film begins with the invocation of ‘almighty god’ at a river where several people are gathered. The child god Krishna rises out of the water astride the demon snake Kaliya. Then we see Yashoda as she rocks the sleeping Krishna’s crib and imagines the god as Gopala. The next scene shows Kamsa fantasizing about Krishna threateningly duplicated many times around him. Kamsa then imagines himself dead as his severed head rises up and descends again. People of all castes pay obeisance to the deity with the title-card: ‘may this humble offering be accepted by the Lord’.
Kaliya Mardan India 1919 35mm 50mins b/w silent
The playmates of Krishna are insulted by a female villager who splashes water on them. They take revenge by stealing butter from her house. When they are beaten up by the woman, they again take revenge with the aid of Krishna. He receives a gift of fruit for his help but gives it away. Krishna then enters the room of a wealthy merchant and his wife at night and ties the man’s beard to his wife’s hair. These exploits lead to a large crowd complaining of Krishna’s antics to his foster parents.
Setu Bandhan India 1932 35mm silent 9min
Lord Rama and his army of apes, monkeys, bears and other creatures are figuring out ways to cross the sea to reach Lanka – the domain of the rakshasa Ravana – to rescue the abducted Sita, the beloved of Lord Rama. Finally a bridge is built by squirrels of stones and pebbles, and Sita is rescued. Interestingly this was the beginning of the era of the talkies, and Phalke was unaware that ‘Alam Ara’ the first talkie, was being made. Originally shot as a silent film and post-synchronised with sound, Setu Bandhan is a metaphor for the bridge between the silent and the talkie era.
FALLEN CURTAIN | 69min
Curated by Marcel Schwierin
FACE TO FACE
Mikheil Kobakhidze ‘Svadba’ (The Wedding), Georgia/USSR 1964 35mm sound b/w 20min no dialogue
In a Soviet city, a cheerful young man meets a girl. He is interested, first a little, then more and more. He keeps following the girl with the big eyes and he is always a little shy but with a cheeky smile…
Karpo Godina ‘O ljubavnim vestina ili film sa 14441’ (On the Art of Loving or A Film with 14441 Frames) Yugoslavia 1971 35mm sound colour 10mins original language
Several thousand soldiers are being trained at an army area in Macedonia. Near the training area is a small town where a few thousand young women live. There is no contact between the young women and soldiers. This film was banned because ‘it makes fun of the Yugoslav army’.
Pascal Lièvre ‘L’Axe du Mal’(Axis of Evil) France/Canada 2003 DV(DVD) sound colour 6min French with English subtitles
L’Axe du mal (Axis of Evil)uses the formal background of extremely sentimental love singing to present one of the decisive political speeches of the new century: George W. Bush’s axis of evil terminology, the preparation for new wars. It is the contradiction between archaic feelings of love and hate on the one hand and the modern media-based telling between TV-kitsch and media conducted, ‘intelligent’ bombs on the other.
Caspar Stracke ‘Hobart’ (from Circle’s Short Circuit) Germany/ USA 1999 35mm sound b/w 12 mins
Hobart is an episode of the feature length experimental film ‘Circle’s Short Circuit’ that deals with the notion of interruption in contemporary forms of communication. The story of ‘Hobart’ is based on the French surrealist novel “L’Écume des Jours” by Boris Vian. It is realized in a classical silent film style applying its idiosyncratic mechanism to highlight the constant switches between two communication modes: the visual language and the text of the intertitles.
Dorothee Wenner ‘Unser Ausland – Episode Kaminer’ (Germany Outside In – Episode Kaminer) Germany 2002 Beta SP/ PAL (DV) sound colour 10minsish subtitles
Foreigners living in Berlin describe their own special view of the peculiarities of the Germans and of German culture and lifestyle. Vladimir Kaminer comes from Russia. He is a writer who has been living in Berlin since 1990.
Marina Abramovic & Ulay ‘Rest Energy’ Germany 1980 DV (DVD) sound colour 4min no dialogue
Rest Energy is the documentation of a performance by the artist couple Abramovic/Ulay. The tension between safety and danger, love and hate is acted out in a direct, non-symbolic way. Arrow and bow are real, and if he loses his strength (or is overwhelmed by unconscious aggressions), he would kill her.
Romeo Grunfelder ‘Jimmy Jenseits’, Germany 1993 sound colour 16 mm 7mins Original language
In his living room, Jimmy goes through an unorthodox grieving process triggered by the unconsummated attempt to achieve interpersonal closeness.
FALLEN CURTAIN | 76min
Curated by Marcel Schwierin
WHOLE DAM FAMILY
Edwin S. Porter ‘The Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog’, USA 1905 35 mm (DVD) b/w 2mins no dialogue
The family members are portrayed one by one in front of the camera in an order corresponding to the patriarchal hierarchy: husband, wife, son daughter, baby, cook, dog.
Guy Sherwin ‘Short Film Series – Portrait with Parents’, UK 1975 16mm silent b/w 3mins no dialogue
It is literally impossible to offer a definitive description of Guy Sherwin’s Short Film Series (1975-2004, about 40 films), since the film has no beginning, middle or end. It is instead composed of a series of three-minute sections, which can be projected in any order. In Portraits with Parents G.S films himself in a mirror with his parents standing left and right of it.
Bill Meyers ‘Familie Strassburger, Dresden’ (Strassburg Family, Dresden), GDR 1986 DVD sound colour 20mins Original language
Bill Meyers planned a project on everyday life in communist East Germany to break down hostile misconceptions. His first interview with the Strassburgers was officially arranged; the cameraman worked for the East German secret police (Stasi). Meyers later managed to obtain spontaneous and critical interviews, but these led to the project’s being terminate; it remained a fragment.
Stan Brakhage ‘Window Water Baby Moving’, USA 1959 16 mm silent colour 12mins no dialogue
‘Brakhage’s treatment of the birth of his daughter (…) a picture so forthrightly, so full of primitive wonder and love, so far beyond civilization in its acceptance that it becomes an experience like few in the history of the movies’ (Archer Winston, NY Post)
Les Blank ‘God Respects Us When We Work – But He Loves Us When We Dance’, USA 1968 16mm sound colour 20mins no dialogue
A time-capsule report on a specific high point of the hippie/counter-culture movement of the long-ago Sixties, God Respects Us is a finely shot panorama of the action and more meditative moments occurring at the Los Angeles 1967 Easter Sunday Love-In.
Joel Bartolomeo ‘Action familiere d’hilarite et d’horreur’ (An Ordinary Story of Hilarity and Horror), France 1992 Beta SP/PAL (DV) sound colour 2mins no dialogue
Joel Bartolomeo ‘Le Chat qui dort’ (The Sleeping Cat), France 1992 Beta SP/PAL (DV) sound colour 4mins
“In the style of an amateur anthropologist, I have shot short video sequences showing real-life situations that were as close as possible to my daily existence. Despite appearances, these are not family films, even though I use certain characteristic figures; rather, they are family anti-films, in which the ambient tension paradoxically narrates the relationship between power and ties of affection. The video is a part of the series: A quarter and je dessinais comme Picasso.” JB
Corinna Schnitt ‘Living a Beautiful Life’, Germany/USA, 2003, Beta SP (DVD) sound colour 13mins
Living a Beautiful Live shows a modern, western family, describing the fulfilled happiness of a rich, carefree couple. The emptiness behind the phrases shows the pressure on this fulfillment, the pursuit of happiness as a right turns into an obligation.
DIGITAL MUTATIONS 1| 54min
Curated by Shai Heredia
Laurent Pernot ‘Still Alives’ France 2005 DV sound colour 2.20min
In the style of a music video, Still Alives links the language of animation and video compositing, to give life to a series of old and more recent photographic portraits from various sources (Hungary, Germany, France, Russia, etc). It thus purposefully constructs a poetic universe, with an arborescent and universal vision of the human being.
Andy Walker ‘Golden Age’ USA 2005 DV sound b/w 3.57min
A man rides a high-wheeler bicycle through an urban environment. Is this archival footage? Where is he going? Where has he come from? Golden Age strives to function as an abstract public memory. Materially Golden Age is an odd concourse of the analog and the digital. ‘I assembled the piece from analog source material: Super 8 film, Short wave radio and audiocassette recordings. My use of “film” in this piece essentially becomes another type of visual effect, but retains an undeniable texture of memory by way of a visual aesthetic.’ AW
Brodskis ‘Yesterday I Think’ UK 2005 DVD sound colour 6min
Once there was a baby that made those around him hate…A baby is born from a surgeon and even before its umbilical cord is cut, one doctor is stabbing the other in the neck. Whose baby is this that makes the world crazy with rage? Becalelis Brodskis makes a powerful statement with poetic, unique hand-drawn animation that is not often seen.
Rahul Kumar ‘My Memory’, India 2005 DV sound colour 13.30min
“I came to the Pune film institute from Khafaul village in Patna, Bihar. At the outset I was quite aloof from other students, and ended up losing myself in my own little boyish fantasy world. This is when I rediscovered my fascination for arrows. I began to read everything around me in relation to fulfilling my childhood desire to play with an arrow. This is how the idea of making a film to explore and regain my emotional connection to my father, my family and arrows came about. But, the film went beyond this as the shooting and editing process became more a representation of my mental and emotional experiences as a filmmaker at the institute, than of my childhood.” -Rahul Kumar.
Hansjörg Palm ‘Screenscream + Dada’ Germany 2004/2005 DV sound colour 6.50min
In a distance of 45 years the picture of a father synchronises the elemental sounds of his newborn son and his dada-phase a year later. After long training and about 50 film shots the synchronization works. A simple documentary performance in two steps.
Theodora Mimilaki ‘Ultimate Substratum of Matter II’ Greece 2003 DVD sound colour 2.12min
The connection between matter, substance and real time. When something is changing, while there is no change.
Jesal Kapadia ‘The Laughing Club’ USA/India 2003 DVD sound colour 9.22min
The laughing clubs, now known as laughter yoga, have become a popular phenomenon both in the West and in India, where they originally started. In a world of miracle drugs, alternative medicine and self-help literature, the concept of laughter is believed to be a source of healing and enormous well being, and a perfect antidote for stress. Based on laughter’s therapeutic effect on the body as well as inspired by the Reader’s Digest “Laughter is the best medicine”, these clubs are largely urban entities catering only to city dwellers. This video visits one such club in a park in South Mumbai.
Gaëlle Denis ‘City Paradise’ UK 2004 DVD sound colour 5.55min
When tomoko arrives in London, she has no idea that soon she will discover a mysterious secret hidden beneath the city.
FALLEN CURTAIN | 67min
Curated by Marcel Schwierin
Telenews ‘Trailblazer in Space’ USA 1961 35mm (or DVD/NTSC) sound b/w 9min
This newsreel records in detail the saga of Ham, a little chimp’s 18-minute ride through the heavens as part of the Mercury-Redstone 2 mission of 31 January 1961.
Pavel Kogan ‘Gordoe Smirenije’ (Proud Humility) USSR 1965 35mm sound b/w 18min original language
This film is a popular presentation of the histories of the Pulkovsky Observatory, the Kislovodsky astronomical station, and radio astronomy in general. The film’s commentary is provided by the famous science-fiction author Boris Strugatsky, who worked at this observatory.
Ford ‘A Wonderful New World of Fords’ USA 1960 35mm (DVD/NTSC) sound b/w 3min
This is a Ford commercial linking new compact cars (e.g. ‘Ford Galaxy’) to futurism and the space frontier.
Charles and Ray Eames ‘Powers of Ten’ USA 1977 35mm (DVD/NTSC) sound colour 9min
Powers of Ten explores the relative size of things from the microscopic to the cosmic. The film travels from an aerial view of a man in a Chicago park to the outer limits of the universe directly above him and back down into the microscopic world contained in man’s hand.
Phil Donahue Vladimir Pozner ‘A Citizens Summit – Trailer’ USA/USSR 1985 DV sound colour 2min
Phil Donahue Vladimir Pozner ‘A Citizens Summit’ – Excerpt’ USA / USSR 1985 DV sound colour 12mins
These ‘space bridges’ involved a satellite link between Seattle and Leningrad, and were broadcast nationwide in the US and USSR. Groups of Americans conversed with groups of Soviet citizens. The project was supported by Gorbachev. A Citizens Summit II – Women to Women (1986) was female only.
Howard Greenhalgh ‘Go West’ (Pet Shop Boys)’, UK 1993 DVD sound colour 4min
Go West is a cover version of the Village People song of this name from 1979. Reinterpreted to reflect the decline of the Soviet Union, the aesthetics of totalitarian march-pasts are revived in lavish computer graphics, and the destination of the journey is now the Promised Land of pop capitalism.
Christoph Girardet & Matthias Muller ‘Manual’, Germany 2002 colour 10min
Combines close-ups of redundant technology gleaned from 60s US sci-fi television series with a female voice from a 40s Hollywood melodrama. Manual makes absolute detachment clash with magnified emotion…
FACT & FANTASY| 90min
G. ARAVINDAN ‘Kummaty’ India 1979 35mm sound colour 90 min
‘Kummaty’ (The Bogey-Man) centers around the passing relationship between the children of a village and an elderly folk entertainer, an itinerant conjurer. ‘Kummaty’ has sometimes been described as a children’s film, but this description is inappropriate. Certainly it is a film largely about children, and it is indeed a film with obvious appeal to children, yet ‘Kummaty’ is one of those rare films that has an intelligent, inspirational appeal to people of all ages, with the exception of those too dull to accept the fantastic and fabulous as meaningful signs of reality.
Presented by Amrit Gangar
DIGITAL MUTATIONS 2| 62min
Curated by Shai Heredia
Oliver Pietsch ‘Heroes’ Germany 2001 DVD sound colour 8.30min
‘Heroes’ is a video performance that tries to bring a computer game into reality. The actors are balloons, the camera is upside down.
Jennifer Beth Guerin ‘Bed Ballet’ USA 2005 DVD sound colour 4min
‘Bed Ballet’ explores the everyday (beds and bodies) through a lens of enchantment evoking memories of play, birth, intimacy, loss and grief.
310K ‘You will never find me’ Netherlands 2005 DV sound colour 6.90min
Video clip for the live electro band 3-1. It’s about someone that never wants to be found again. The video takes you on a surreal search through beautiful landscapes.
Luke Lamborn ‘Square Millimeter of Oppurtunity’ USA 2005 DVD sound colour 2min
Luke Lamborn is an emerging artist examining new ways of altering and enhancing perception through digital technologies. He recognizes technology coupled with art as a powerful force in shaping the visual language of culture. His current work employs unique processes in the creation of video and animation to provoke consideration of popular media, human/machinery relationships and the environment.
Oliver Husain ‘Swivel’ Germany 2003/05 DVD sound colour 15.10min
The camera swivels around itself and through Shanghai, passing from the suburbs into the city and back. An uninvited Image film for the city of tomorrow.
Galina Myznikova and Sergey Provorov ‘20.21’ Russia 2002 DV sound colour 15.20min
The film explores the idea of the millennium through a symbiosis of the Archive and library as Conservators of Time. By a visual language that uses structural digital montage and dynamic titles, stylistically, “20.21” is an experimental project developing structuralism towards the absurd and reality. The film consists of 30575 frames. It is based around a musical piece “20 to 2000” by Rasten Noton / Golden Nica-Prix Ars Electronica/ written by the contemporary Sweden sound artist Ivan Pavlov, working in the area of electronic minimalism.
Bödenauer Brigitia ‘Don’t Touch Me When I Start To Feel Safe’ Austria 2003 DV sound colour 4.30min
The video deals with systems of safeness represented by architecture and the body as reliable structures that are being intervened by moments of “touch” from “outside”. Those interferences produce a fragile stability, a constant repetition of fading, melting, collapsing and recomposing. To the sound of Ivan Pavlov (COH) – in a final cascade of backbones, statues and urban environments – the image itself starts absorbing this rhythm of fluctuation between security and irritation.
Massroom project ‘Scenery’ Indonesia 2003 DVD sound colour 7min
Founding member of Ruangrupa, Hafiz, constitutes a new video collective to explore the urban poetics of his city Jakarta. Nine videos were created by Indonesian journalism students as records of diversity and an exhilarating celebration of the mother-city Jakarta! This video asks: Have you ever imagined sitting on the top of the train? What would you see?
FACT & FANTASY| 120min
John Abraham ‘Amma Ariyan’ India 1986 sound b/w 115mins
In the form of an open letter from a son to his mother, Amma Ariyan discusses the confusions of a generation, the troubled youth of the seventies, in the context of a turbulent political and economic environment. Fact is intermingled with fiction, and actual coverage of historical events becomes an essential part of a dramatized experience, giving it the credibility of real history. John Abraham, “the true maverick of current Indian cinema,” died recently in a road accident, bringing to an abrupt halt a highly unorthodox life and career. Amma Ariyan, his last film, was financed in a novel manner. Abraham and his band of young enthusiasts set up Odessa Movies to carry good cinema to the common people. Voluntary contributions from thousands of people, of two and ten rupees and shares of Rs. 100, formed the core of the production capital, and made the film the people’s offering to the movement for good cinema.
Presented by Amrit Gangar
SCULPTURE OF THE SCREEN
Curated by Karen Mirza & Brad Butler (no.w.here)
Venue: The Fourth Floor, Kitab Mahal, D.N. Road, Fort
For Experimenta 2006 Karen Mirza & Brad Butler break away from the single screen tradition and curate examples of expanded film and video. In the traditional cinema auditorium the participation of the audience is strictly optical as the film is ultimately fixed in a one-way contemplative projection. Expanded film allows the artist to express ideas about space as well as time as the audience is active and interactive in the face of a non fixed determinate viewpoint. This means that the spectator approaches the work as a producer of meaning rather than as a consumer of images, while the artist can draw upon areas of conceptual, sculptural and experiential art. Both ‘Razor Blades’ by Sharits and ‘Line describing a cone?’ by McCall are iconic and influential works in this canon, while ‘Thirds’ by Payne is a new contemporary digital reworking of the ideas of optical colour mixing explored by Sharits in his 1975 film ‘Shutter Interface’.
Anthony McCall ‘Line Describing a Cone’ 1973 16mm silent b&w 30min
Anthony McCall’s Line Describing a Cone has long been a classic of American avant-garde cinema, but because it was most often screened in dusty Soho lofts in the past, the piece was little known to a wider audience. The inclusion of Line Describing a Cone, 1973 in the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition “Into the Light: the Projected Image in American Art, 1964-1977” has opened McCall’s work to a great deal of interest both in America and abroad. While curators are only now beginning to mine the history of the projected image in art, McCall continues to be one of the most important of the Post-Minimalist artists to use projected film.
Paul Sharits ‘Razor Blades’ USA 1965-68 16mm sound bw & colour 25 min
‘Razor Blades follows the tradition of the stroboscopic films which affect our eyes on a physical level, causing an almost hypnotic transference of light from the screen of our minds. However, Sharits explores psychological as well as physical sensations. He seems intent upon going against the grain of our perception and feelings, and we are forced to either stop the flow of images or to dive into them fully with total abandon. If we can do this we find the film deeply satisfying, because it is conceived to break down our defences and then to work on a subconscious level to initiate us into a new level of awareness. By opposing the eyes and ears against the mind, Razor Blades cuts deeply, both in our psychic and visceral bodies, and is a forerunner of what films some day may become – totally programmed visual, auditory and psychological environments.’ – David Beinstock, Whitney Museum.
Simon Payne ‘Thirds’ UK 2005 video 2 projectors colour
Thirds is for two projectors, aligned so that the images overlap by a third of each frame. The cycle of colours that each projector shows are the primary and secondary colours used in a video test signal. A third set of colours appears in the overlap of the two projectors, which makes for an additive form of colour mixing. Once the pace of the piece picks up there is a further form of mixing that occurs in the interval between colours and the persistence of vision. There is all manner of movement in the piece that weaves various horizontal paths across the screen; in the movements that seem to circle the Central region there are also illusions of depth. The size of the frame that each projector displays is reduced by thirds as the piece progresses, leaving the overlapping third as the conclusion of the work.
Soundscapes with Masta Justy
Venue: The Fourth Floor, Kitab Mahal, D.N. Road, Fort
Chennai based sound artist Masta Justy experiments with novel, complexly textured sounds that evolve through Indian classical music, ambient electronica and Tamil film soundtracks from the 70’s and 80’s. Masta Justy’s soundcsapes encourage you to pay attention to how you listen, and to experiment with new ways of listening.
SPECIAL SCREENING Marcel Schwierin ‘Eternal Beauty’ Germany 2003 Video (DVD) sound colour & b/w 91min
This is a documentary film on the aesthetics of National Socialist film. The history of the Third Reich is investigated in light of its own image making. Which hopes, desires and fears are reflected in these images? The film unfolds chronologically, with original material from 1918 to 1945. The focus of this film is the analysis of National Socialist documentary and ‘Kultur-Film’, which staged a media-produced world of illusions whose destructive intent is apparent from the very beginning.
FACT & FANTASY| 28min
Rahul Dasgupta ‘Genesis’ India 1974 35mm sound colour 28mins
“Genesis was shot in 6 days. On the 7th day the Lord rested.” RD
FACT & FANTASY | 82min
Ashim Ahluwalia ‘John & Jane’ India 2005 35mm sound colour 83min
A fresh new blend of observational documentary and tropical science-fiction, ‘John & Jane’ follows the stories of six call agents that answer American 1-800 numbers in a Mumbai call center. After a heady mix of American culture training and 14-hour night shifts, the job soon starts to take its toll. Counter pointing the fluorescent interiors of late night offices and hyper-malls with the uneasy currents swirling around the characters, ‘John & Jane’ discovers a young generation of urban Indians that are beginning to live between the real and the virtual. However, this futuristic world of American aliases and simulated reality is not science fiction, these are the times in which we live. ‘John & Jane’raises disturbing questions about the nature of personal identity and what it means to be Indian in a 21st century globalised world.