CHALTI TASVEEREIN: TRAVELING FILM FESTIVAL
Thirty years ago, the Odessa Collective produced and released Amma Ariyan with the contributions of people in the villages of Kerala. The film was a reflection of its times, told through the letters written by a son to his mother. Experimental in form and conscious in its content, the film was one of the first films in India to be made through the donations and active engagement of a general public.
Chalti Tasveerein: Traveling Film Festival borrows from this legacy to initiate a 45 days screening of documentaries, feature films and experimental cinema for interested audience across 7 states in the North of India between February and March 2018.
As an art form, film holds radical potential for bringing people together and accessing nuance in our response to the world. It can acquaint diverse people with each other’s experiences, help us investigate critically, expand our ability for empathy and certainly charm us to the joys of storytelling.
For a majority of citizens, the option for accessing cinema is through mainstream cinema, television or the internet. Despite the illusion of it, this viewing culture does not have adequate space for diversity. A lot of what we receive from such channels as entertainment or information has been designed for selling things or injecting propaganda. Sifting through this ocean of content to arrive at what can genuinely move us is presently a matter of access.
Without public-funded theaters or channels dedicated to promoting non-mainstream work, most films with a rigorous point of view don’t get seen enough and consequently, the conversations they could generate are limited. A wider audience across class and geographic location have no real access to them. This limiting of films is unfortunate for audience and filmmakers alike.
The idea behind Chalti Tasveerein is to provide access of cinema to a wider set of audience in small towns, rural areas and settlements in cities who rarely have the opportunity to watch inventive works across genres, styles, intent and content.
The process aspires to foster an alert viewing culture as well as a love for different kinds of cinema. This way, such an endeavor will be joining hands with other on-going experiments that are helping films spill into unlikely areas where an audience awaits.
The principle intent of Chalti Tasveerein is to organize screenings of engaging and formally daring films followed by discussions with a usually unconsidered audience. Within this overarching programme, we hope to achieve a few other objectives.
Politics of Screenings – An experiment like Chalti Tasveerein has a political mandate: to screen films that engage with the world around and which raising questions against the prevalent status quo. However, the attempt is not to do this by reducing the medium of films to a mere tool for communicating an agenda. Good films render complex layers to the collective human experience. They bring to sharp relief the order and chaos of our world and undertake the possibility of shifting the consciousness of the audiences ever so slightly. Curation of the films will be done keeping in mind the need to screen relevant cinema that doesn’t fit into neat political boxes, that asks difficult questions and submits no easy answers.
Understanding the Medium – In 2013, a WhatsApp video was circulated alleging the lynching of two Hindu boys by Muslims in Muzaffarnagar. The video, which was, in fact, an older clip of a lynching in Pakistan, played its part in inciting the Muzaffarnagar riots that year. In 2016, four Dalit men were brutally attacked by local goons in the name of ‘cow protection’ near Una in Gujarat. The video clip capturing this barbarity set off a landmark protest lead by Dalit organizations.
The moving image has acquired a viral potency in our times as videos and clips inhabit the front and corners of our lives.There is an increased relevance, now more than ever, to view different kinds of films to understand the way in which media is utilized in our modern world and how narrations are constructed.
The screenings will be followed by open conversations on the subject of the films as well as the visual strategies employed to communicate the perspective that emerges. The idea is to expand a critical viewing culture that is watchful of the ways in which we are spoken to.
Sustaining The Process – We are keen that such an attempt is not a one-off experiment. A means of sustaining such experiments is only possible by gathering a community of film enthusiasts and cultural activists who can continue this process of curation and distribution.
A list of audience and volunteers who would be interested in conducting future screenings will be formed in the course of the traveling screenings. Before the 45 days of screenings, we will organize a training workshop for these volunteers to train them in the various aspects of screening. Such training will further what is intended of the yatra, and what has been learned during the travels, help pool a common collection of films and chart out the plan for the next chapter of screenings.
The festival is set to travel across various locations in the states of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, over a period of 45 days between February and March 2018.
We plan screenings both in areas where film collectives, trade unions, farmer organisations, student groups and similar movement groups are present, who can support us on the ground, as well as in spaces where we will have to forge new partnerships alliances.
The effort aspires to involve collective participation with artists, activists and other volunteers in helping identify areas where screenings can take place as well as to drive the political engagement programme.