The festival begins on February 6 and will conclude on February 10.

Chennai to host its 7th International Documentary and Short Film FestivalAmudhan RP. Photo by Mustafa desamangalam [CC BY-SA 4.0]
Features Cinema Wednesday, February 06, 2019 - 08:51

Chennai is hosting its 7th International Documentary and Short Film Festival this year curated by documentary filmmaker and activist Amudhan Ramalingam Pushpam aka Amudhan RP. This year, the festival is being jointly organised by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan and Amudhan’s Marupakkam, a media activist group.

The festival traces its roots to Amudhan’s initial days as a Documentary filmmaker. “I started Marupakkam, a film activists group, along with friends in 1994. Initially our needs were to form an exclusive platform for screening Documentary films. In 1998, we organised our first International documentary and Short Film Festival in Madurai. The Festival recently celebrated its 20th edition last year,” he begins.

The Chennai International documentary and Short Film Festival, a spin off from its Madurai edition has its first session in 2013.

Amudhan who initiated the first ever Documentary Film Festival has made 19 documentaries so far, from the gut wrenching Pee (Shit) in 2003, a short film on the lives of manual scavengers, to Mayana Kurippugal (Notes from the Crematorium), another documentary short on the lives of Dalit workers tasked with performing the final rites for unclaimed bodies, to Radiation Stories Part 1, 2 and 3 to his latest Dollar City that released in 2015.

Amudhan shares that in Chennai, the movement began with monthly screenings progressing to the film festival. “The scene here is different form Madurai. There, the festival happens in December for which we work for about 6 months. The festival happens here in February by which time we spruce up the content for Chennai audience,” he says.

The festival, that was kicked off with curtain-raiser screenings across the city, has an interesting mix of films this time. Around 50 films will be screened for five days including Indian and International titles. A special session on German filmmaker Werner Herzog and editor, filmmaker and curator from Delhi Reena Mohan have been planned. Reena is also expected to conduct a Master Class on documentary editing on February 8 at Madras University in Chennai.

The filmmaker in focus this year will be Supriyo Sen who has made documentaries like Wagha and Hope dies last in war.

Actor, filmmaker and curator from Kochi Archana Padmini will present '9 Pen Cinemackal’, films by women filmmakers. Critic, curator and filmmaker C S Venkiteswaran will present ‘Artists Cinema’ while critic, curator and teacher from Mumbai Amrit Gangar will curate and present Gandhi, Gandhiness and Cinema Vimarshaa.

This year, the festival will be inaugurated by award winning filmmaker Anand Patwardhan. the festival will also have parallel screenings across the city in colleges like Loyola, Stella, Ethiraj and MCC. It is this feature that Amudhan says that has changed over the years. “Today, all colleges have screening system. This was not how it was like 20 years ago. It is important to see these films as they were intended to. Technology development is also very convenient for us. We are able to provide quality projection. Just because you are showing films on marginalised people, it need not be technically marginalised,” he says.

Talking about the Independent documentary filmmaking scene in the state, Amudha tells us that it looks quite promising. “When I was invited to curate documentary films for Kochi biennale, in which I got four days to screen documentaries, I presented films from Tamil Nadu. People appreciated the films saying the scene was very vibrant, colourful and widespread in the state. We have a wide spectrum of topics and its not just one type of cinema. I’d say we are doing well in the documentary filmmaking community. I know at least 20 filmmakers who are doing a really god job here,” he says.

Amudhan who calls himself a documentary activist talks in length about what has changed in the last two decades. “Documentary festivals are still quite rare here. We don't have exclusive festivals for it. I think we need more spaces to showcase documentaries. But it has definitely increased. There are more groups that encourage film screenings now. And we have developed a good rapport with them. It is an important development. Because there are other groups doing it, it is encouraging for groups like ours. It is better to do it as a community than doing it alone,” he finishes.

The festival begins on February 6 and will conclude on February 10. Screenings at Goethe-Institut, Chennai between 10 am and 8 pm are Rs 100 per person. The parallel screenings in colleges and other venues in the city are free for all.

For more details, head to their page here.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.