A micro affair

I am Micro’ is a short film made by Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel and pays tribute to the small-scale independent filmmakers of the world whose work often remains invisible.

Speaking about I am Micro’s exploration of the artiste’s mind, director Goel says, “We wanted to make a film about the individual artiste trying to make films and often failing. And yet we believe that there will always be filmmakers who will find a way, because for them, cinema is absolutely necessary, or important — it is essential.”

A still from the short film I Am Micro

The 14-minute, 55-second film’s shot composition and editing styles are old-fashioned. Heredia explains, “We have an affinity to the mechanical and the analogue. It gives the work warmth and a hand-crafted quality, which is difficult to achieve with software and digital processes. The film is also about these issues.” A majority of the film comprises tracking shots of decadent machinery, within the ruins of India’s first and only still camera factory, National Instruments Limited, in Jadavpur, Kolkata. The poignancy of these frames is exaggerated by the narrative of filmmaker Kamal Swaroop as he speaks about his cosmic relationship with cinema.

Swaroop is an FTII graduate whose lone feature-length film, Om Dar-ba-dar, is a surrealist take on life in a mythical Indian small town. It wasn’t a commercial trailblazer, but over the years it developed a cult following, inspiring several filmmakers outside India and within, including the prolific Anurag Kashyap. His stream of consciousness narrative crystallises within it his despondency at not having done right unto himself as an individual, but also perpetuates his joy and freedom at being a small, ‘micro’ filmmaker.

His narrative also sounds like a premonition for the co-directors of I Am Micro. “Our work is interested in engaging Indian spaces of production and distribution, but not in the traditional multiplex manner. There are many Indian artistes and galleries using film as a medium. We need to start believing in a film culture that is not just dependent on multiplex distribution,” feels Goel.

The latter part of the film is punctuated by shots of the making of a film within the film. Heredia reveals, “The film being shot in I am Micro is Burn Bruno Burn, a feature film celebrating Giordano Bruno, a philosopher, a rebel, the first beatnik — burned alive as a heretic in Rome, February 17, 1600.”

The duo is already planning their next venture, one that they don’t want to disclose too much about, except for the fact that it is “a film about a controversial modern painter.”

Their ambition goes beyond just making films they believe in. “Filmmakers don’t necessarily have to tell stories using films. Film can be used for poetic and other purposes. We should explore experimental world cinema to see how free the medium can be. A short film doesn’t have to be a feature condensed into five minutes.”

I am Micro will be screened at the International Film Festival of Goa in October 

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