The Urban Lens Film Festival showcases fascinating narratives of life in the city

Why you shouldnt miss the Urban Lens Film Festival in Bengaluru
Features Film Festival Wednesday, March 02, 2016 - 20:09

The city has always had a privileged place in the cinematic imagination, since it provides a multilayered canvas on which to write our many hopes, dreams and desires. But by the same token, cinema is also a medium uniquely suited to capturing the textured, many-layered narratives of urban life. It is just such an experience of multiple voices and stories of the city that the Urbans Lens Film Festival is set to showcase in Bengaluru from March 4-6.

Organised by the Indian Institute of Human Settlements, the festival brings together an interesting mix of ethnographic, personal essay and animation films that explore different facets of what it means to live urban lives of various kinds.

Thus, Harun Farocki’s Workers Leaving the Factory, Arun Khopkar’s Narayan Gangaram Surve (a Marathi Marxist poet raised amidst Mumbai’s mill workers), and Rahul Roy’s The Factory (a portrait of workers from the Maruti Suzuki factory in the National Capital Region) seek to catch the pulse of life of the industrial working classes.

Then there are films like Mira Nair’s India Cabaret, Debalina’s More Than a Friend, Gitanjali Rao’s True Love Story and Paromita Vohra’s Where’s Sandra, which all examine the myriad ways in which women negotiate the city as a landscape of desire and sexuality. From the cabaret dancers of Nair’s film to Rao’s garland weaver to the sought-after mythical stereotype of Sandra from Bandra of Vohra’s film, each woman brings experiences of the city from different viewpoints at various distances from the mainstream to the fore.

Bingöl Elmas’s Komşu Komşu! Huu! (Hey Neighbour!) and Olivier Meys and Zhang Yaxuan’s A Disappearance Foretold, both examine the textures of cities in transition, of neighbourhoods caught up in the maelstrom of development and progress. 

Vani Subramanian’s Ayodhya Gatha and Safina Uberoi’s My Mother India, foreground everyday lives against the backdrops of traumatic violence, examining the intimate connections between pain, memory and identity.

Besides this impressive range of films, the festival will also feature conversations with the makers of some of the films, as well as panel discussions that examine the contexts, languages and aesthetics of the cinematic gaze on the city. Interestingly, the festival will live stream all of these conversations on YouTube, for the benefit of anyone who cannot be present at the festival venue.  

The Urban Lens Film Festival is on from March 4-6 at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus, and is being held again in Delhi at the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan from March 18-20. Entry to the festival is free. For further details, log on to http://iihs.co.in/urbanlens/.  

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