Experimenta Film Society at the Planetarium


'Trip' Pramod Pati



On the occasion of the astronomy festival, “Kalpanaye Yatre – Journey of Imaginations”, Experimenta Film Society presents “Projecting Utopias” on December 1st, 2nd and 3rd at 5.30pm at the Bangalore planetarium.

By discussing films that blur the boundaries between science, magic, spirituality and mythology, Shai Heredia, director of Experimenta, will explore psychedelic imaginings of the universe and human (and non-human) explorations of futuristic paradigms. This is a presentation of poetic, and eccentric, expressions of human thought and the many utopias it projects. The films to be discussed are listed below.

Space, the Final Frontier (65mins) / 5.30pm

1. Jordan Belson ‘Allures’ USA 1961
Jordan Belson made his first film in 1947, looking inward as well out with such films as Allures in 1961, and Re-entry in 1964. He says: “I’m involved with the kind of imagery that has been dealt with in Tibetan art and in some Christian art of the Middle Ages. Such circular and symmetrical shapes have always been associated with the quest for spirituality.” He was a great influence on filmmakers like the Whitney brothers and Stan Vanderbeek.

2. Telenews ‘Trailblazer in Space’ USA 1961
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.

3. Charles & Ray Eames ‘Powers of Ten’ USA 1977
In 1977, Charles and Ray Eames made a nine-minute film called Powers of Ten that still has the capacity today to expand the way we think and view our world. Its articulation of the close relationship between humankind and outer space is fascinating. 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, all in a single shot: an unforgettable experience.

4. Khodataev, Komisarenko & Merkulov ‘Interplanetary Revolution’ Soviet Russia 1924
Fervent Bolsheviks export the Revolution to Mars. When capitalists escaping Earth arrive on Mars, they find the comrades already there, having a party congress beneath a banner of Lenin. Irina Margolina (documentary filmmaker): Zenon Komisarenko, a pupil of great abstract painter Kazmir Malevich, made the first Soviet object animation which appeared in the feature film “Aelita,” directed by Y. Protazanov. According to the diary of Nikolai Khodataev, who worked with Komisarenko, Komisarenko prepared sketches and background for animated sequences of “Aelita”, but nothing came of his efforts. Therefore his group decided to make an animated film based on those sketches about the export of the Revolution to Mars. It was done as a parody of “Aelita.”

5. Vijay B Chandra, Space and India, Films Division India

A Wonderful New World (65mins) / 5.30pm

1. Ford ‘A Wonderful New World of Fords’ USA 1960
This is a Ford commercial linking new compact cars (e.g. ‘Ford Galaxy’) to futurism and the space frontier.

2. Pramod Pati ‘Explorer’ India 1968
A psychedelic trip through ‘60’s youth culture in India. An analysis of science, technology and modernity with abstract references to symbols, faces and moods.

3. Superstudio ‘Supersurface’ Italy 1972
The film Supersurface begins with a confusing whirl of familiar images of 1960s futurism overlaid with a dizzying description of the world as a network of systems. The pace slows down and the film resolves to a sequence showing a verdant landscape with a beautiful, manicured woman and a balding, woolly-haired man sitting under a tree biting into pieces of fruit. After panning across the blue sky, the camera comes to rest on the sun refracted through the lens in a four-pointed starburst pattern, while the narration—a business-like male voice heard over a triumphant electric guitar solo—ends with the phrase “Life will be the only environmental art.” The utopias proposed by Superstudio are rooted in an architectural systems aesthetics that mobilized the immaterial as a form of instrumental and political critique.

4. Neil Beloufa “Kempinski” France 2007
Kempinski is a mystical and animist place. People emerge from the dark, hold fluorescent lamps; they speak about a magical world. Their testimonies spark confusion and contradiction. This unique blend of fiction (sci-fi) and “real” documentary was filmed in Mali. The film is defined by specific rules: interviewed people imagine the future and speak about it in the present tense. Their hopeful, poetic and spiritual stories and fantasies are recorded and edited in a melodic way; Kempinski thus cleverly challenges our exotic expectations and stereotypes about Africa.

5. Mika Taanila ‘Futuro – a new stance for tomorrow’ Finland/Suomi 1998
In 1968, the Finnish architect Matti Suuronen designed Futuro, a house made of plastic with a flying saucer like elliptic shape, reflecting the late-60s optimism about the forthcoming conquest of space. The famous ball-shaped “globe chair” by Eero Aarnio was another classic of Finnish design at that time. It was believed that mankind was about to enter a new era in which technology would solve all imaginable problems. Through this film Mika Taanila chronicles the rise and fall of Futuro, a “Space Age” utopia that almost came true.

‘Om Dar-B-Dar’ (101mins) / 5.30pm **
Kamal Swaroop’s ‘Om Dar-B-Dar’ India 1988

Om-Dar-Ba-Dar is a fantastical portrait of life in a mythical small town. This cult Indian film tells the story of a young boy called Om in the period of his carefree adolescence and its harsh disillusionments. Om has a rather strange family. His father quits his government job to dedicate himself to astrology, and his older sister is dating a good-for-nothing. Om is involved in science, but is also attracted to magic and religion. Above all it seems as if his only outstanding skill is his ability to hold his breath underwater for a long time.
** The filmmaker Kamal Swaroop will be present at the screening.