by Shai Heredia
In the late
60's and early 70's, a small group of radical film artists made use of
found footage, animation and stylised montage to develop an alternative
syntax for the state funded documentary films of Films Division India.
These films were referred to as, short experimental documentaries. By recontextualising
these films into a more befitting genre, EXPERIMENTA celebrates these visionary
filmmakers and the experimental new syntax of Indian film that they created.
This package attempts to rediscover these lost experimental films by presenting
them within a context that looks to explore ideas around experimental film
1970; 35mm; Sound; B&W; 4 mins
which uses pixilation to depict the transitoriness of daily life in an
'And I Make Short Films'
1968; 35mm; Sound; B&W; 16 mins
portrayal of short film making by a short film maker. The views expressed
in the film are sometimes bitter, often humorous, at times satirical but
1969; 35mm; Sound; B&W; 9 mins
Set in Bombay
in 1969, this is an experimental film about city life the activities occurring
around a busy city square. Narrated through abstract images, this film
is created from the perspective of the statue at the centre of the square.
B.Chandra 'Child on a Chess Board'
1979; 35mm; Sound; B&W; 8 mins
film that explores nationhood, industrial progress and scientific development
through the eyes of a child.
by Shai Heredia
filmmakers are increasingly exposed to alternative visual forms and styles,
new relationships have developed to the aesthetic of film. These path breaking
personal films are experimental ethnographic documents of the filmmakers'
urban contexts. By exposing the complex cultural relationship that these
filmmakers' share with the medium and process of filmmaking, these films
attempt to explore ideas around migration, gender, sexuality and religion.
This showcase of films by young emerging filmmakers based in India is an
exciting reflection of changing relationships towards the moving image.
Chandra '18 (+2) Blinks of an Eye'
2004; 16mm; Sound; B&W; 23mins
is a symptom of humanity's attempt to tame the chaotic universe and subjugate
it to our control. 12 months in a year, 365 days in a year, 24 hours in
a day. In film the smallest unit is the frame, in time it is the
or even a blink of an eye. This film questions what happens when it is
not possible to observe or measure reality without changing it and we are
unable to eliminate ourselves from the picture.
takes images and sounds from the filmmaker's immediate environment (at
the time- Chicago) and tempered by process and chance, weaves them together
to create a perceptual world of the filmmaker. The interiority of
resonates with the space inside the cave. Working in the tradition of the
direct film, it records in its own physical nature the traces of its process
of evolution as a fragment of meaning. The film's content and process are
2004; 16mm; Sound; Colour; 20mins
a young Bengali woman leaves Calcutta in search of a new life in Bombay.
She finds paying guest accommodation in the suburbs. In a series
of still photographs, the film records her establishing daily routines.
she travels home to Calcutta. Marriage is an option to lonely and disinterested
Avikunthak 'Kalighat Fetish'
1999; 16mm; Sound; Colour; 22 mins
attempts to negotiate with the duality that is associated with the ceremonial
veneration of the Mother Goddess Kali. It ruminates on the nuanced transsexuality
that is prevalent in the ceremonial performance of
cross dressing as Kali. This is interwoven with grotesque elements of a
sacrificial ceremony, which forms a vital part of the worship of the Goddess.
be advised that the film contains images of animal sacrifice).
by Shai Heredia
in this package have been selected for their eccentric style of breaking
down the conventions of Indian narrative fiction and the Bollywood formula.
These rarely seen films have been responsible for developing avant garde
visual and intellectual perspectives on narrative fiction filmmaking in
1. Xav Leplae
2003; 35mm; Sound; Colour; 32 min
to the sound track of 'Bobby', Raj Kapoor's 1973 Bollywood classic, 'I'm
Bobby' casts street children, child laborers and drawn puppet figures in
place of Rishi, the grown up superstars of the 1970s original. While Kapoor's
Bobby was loosely based on 'Romeo and Juliet', set in modern India 'I'm
Bobby' newly relays it own messages about society and culture.
the Special Jury Prize for Defying Categories at The Chicago Underground
Film Festival and in selection this year for the Sundance Film Festival,
this is 'I'm Bobby's premiere screening in India.
Swaroop 'Om Dar-B-Dar'
1988; 35mm; Sound; Colour; 101 mins
is a fantastical portrait of life in a mythical small town.
The 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.
has been referred to as an anomaly or accident by the few who have seen
it from within the mainstream Indian film history because of its progressive
cinematic nature. By recontextualising this rarely seen film
the context of the Indian avant garde, Experimenta is celebrating this
path breaking film by making it accessible to a larger audience.
silent, B&W, 9 mins, 16mm
a bathroom, the film is a continuous unbroken image which fluctuates and
alters as the camera encounters irregularities and interruptions in the
grid system of tiles. The composition of the image is dictated by the
of the tiles in conjunction with the rectangular dimensions of the film-frame,
which is based on a 'four by three' approximate to the ration of the 'golden
the Chris Coppola prize at the San Francisco Art Institute Film and Video
sound, colour, 10 mins, 16mm
made five years later, aptly offers points of comparison with LITTLE DOG
FOR ROGER. Le Grice no longer simply uses the printer as a reflexive mechanism,
but utilises the possibilities of colour-shift and permutation of imagery
as the film progresses from simplicity to complexity. The initial
use of pure red and green filters gives way to a broad variety of colours
and the introductionof strips of coloured/celluloid which are drawn through
the printer begins to build an image which becomes graphically and spatially
complex - if still abstract - and which evokes the paintings of, say, Clifford
Still or Morris Louis. With the film's culmination in representational,
photographic imagery, one would anticipate a culminating 'richness' of
image; yet the insistent evidence of splice bars and the loop and repetition
of the short piece of found footage and the conflicting superimposition
of filtered loops all reiterate (as in LITTLE DOG) the work which is necessary
to decipher that cinematic image." - Deke Dusinberre.
sound, colour, 24 mins, 16mm & video
In The Black
Tower we enter the world of a man haunted by a tower which, he believes,
is following him around London. While the character of the central protagonist
is indicated only by a narrative voice-over which takes us from unease
to breakdown to mysterious death, the images, meticulously controlled and
articulated, deliver a series of colour coded puzzles, games, jokes and
puns which pull the viewer into a mind-teasing engagement. Smith's assurance
and skill as a filmmaker undercuts the notion of the avant-garde as dry,
unprofessional and dull and in Tower we have an example of a film which
plays with the emotions as well as the language of film.' - Nik Houghton,
Tower expands the core of Smith's interests: chiefly, the image as a filmic
fact which is constantly questioned and often undermined by language and
soundtrack. Like his earlier films, The Black Tower is concerned with description,
but this time framed by a story whose undertow of melancholy balances its
wit and wry humour, and which is a remarkable fiction in its own right.'
- A.L. Rees.
and slightly menacing The Black Tower is one of the most accomplished films
to come from the British avant-garde for years.' - Michael O'Pray, Independent
SO IS THIS
1982, silent, colour, 45 mins, 16mm
an odd film: a text-film, a silent black and white talky in colour, a self-reflexive
document and a fictive construct, a non-movie that paradoxically fulfils
and subverts the implications in the titles of such books as'The Language
of Cinema' and 'How to Read a Film'.' - Michael Ethan Brodzky: Arts Canada
of So Is This is that it challenges apparently obvious truths about discourse.
Snow's film addresses all the issues which Socrates' condemnation (in Plato's
'Phaedrus' quoted in the film) of written languageraises.-R.Bruce Elder:
Parachute Feb 1983.
a visual dynamo that loses nothing to motion for its absenceof pictures.
If you let it Snow's film stretches your definition of what film is.' -
J.Hoberman: Village Voice Sept 28th 1982.
silent, B&W, 3 mins x 20+, 16mm
It is literally
impossible to offer a definitive description of GuySherwin's Short Film
Series, since the film has no beginning, middle or end. It is instead
composed of a series of three minute (100ft.) sections which
projected in any order. The hirer of the series may select which sections
he/she wants to book and in which order they are to be seen, the only stipulation
being that a minimum of four sections be screened together.
upwards of twenty-five sections, all silent and in black-and-white. The
majority were made in the years 1976 to 1979, although the series is theoretically
open-ended and ongoing. If the film itself is impossible to describe,
some of its recurring ideas and cinematic interests can at least be traced.
This can perhaps best be done by considering a reel of six sections currently
available as a unit for those interested in booking the film for the first
time. Although the individual sections themselves are simple, the issues
they raise are varied and complex. Some of the ideas woven through this
reel include film as a record of life, and autobiographical document, the
image surface as a
pattern of light and rhythm, the camera apparatus as a 'clock' which actually
sound mag stripe, B&W, 10 mins, 16mm
One of a
series of films that uses soundtracks generated directly from their own
imagery. I shot the images of a staircase specifically for the range of
sounds they would produce. I used a fixed lens to film from a fixed position
at the bottom of the stairs. Tilting the camera up increases the number
of steps that are included in the frame. The more steps that are included
the higher the pitch of sound. A simple procedure gave rise to a musical
scale (in eleven steps which is based on the laws of visual perspective.
A range of volume is introduced by varying the exposure. The darker the
image the louder the sound (it can be the other way round, but Musical
Stairs uses a soundtrack made from the negative of the image.) The fact
that the staircase is neither a synthetic image, nor a particularly clean
one (there happened to be leaves on the stairs when I shot the film) means
that the sound is not pure, but dense with strange harmonies. - G.S.
& BRAD BUTLER
STRAIGHT LINE MEETS A CURVE
colour, 30 mins, 16mm double-screen
straight line meets a curve is a durational sculpture, of real and imagined
activity shot entirely in one room. It is a film concerned with the objective
reduction of space, a film 'about' the recording and representation of
space and the politics of the viewing space of film itself. Projected onto
two adjacent screens, the visual material is
so that light and colour form relationships between and across screens
continuously, redefining the viewer's perception of the space presented
through the images. Time is measured out in ways analogous to the
and going of the everyday, exposing the passing of time to a (continuous)
questions the usual strategies of the viewer, mediating between the mental
image, the dimension of physical space, and the illusionistic space of
cinema. The sound is constructed from the speech of the filmakers within
the space broken down by a process of re-amplification and re-recording
to a point where the resonant frequencies of the space have an equal value
to any spoken content. A structure of loops and phase patterns internally
both within the filmic space and in parallel with the textual content of
the intertitles. Through the framing and re-framing of images and the constructed
relationship of sound, text and image, the film creates perspectual shifts
and unexpected confrontations that confound our usual way of distinguishing
between the actual and the representational.