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Take the radical route

Three questions with filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia

Q. What was the idea behind curating Unknown Territories?
A. When I was invited to curate a programme for the museum, I wanted to screen something unknown. One thing that has always struck me about Mumbai is the large number of films we produce, and yet how little we are exposed to different kinds of cinema. So I decided to skip narrative fiction films and documentaries, and focus on different kinds of experimental films - films without stories, basically. These are films that have more to do with the senses — seeing, dreaming, things like that. Maybe these works are closer to painting, sculpture or poetry, so a museum is a good space to show them.

Ashim Ahluwalia
Ashim Ahluwalia

Q. Why did you particularly choose the period between 1963-2012?
A. Emerging from a ravaged post-WWI Europe in the 1920s, artists and writers set out to destroy standard notions of plot, character, and setting, which they saw as conservative, manipulative and totally artificial. Employing radical techniques of abstraction, this cinema engaged optical manipulation, dissonant sound, recycled found footage, chemical film explorations and rhythmic editing. This work is very wild, free and it may not be to everyone’s taste.

Q. What criteria did you employ to make your selections for the shorts?
A. I’m not a film scholar so I’m not doing a historical survey of these films. It’s a personal selection of experimental work from the last 50 years, because it's nice to make connections between things we often take for granted. Like that cool, Vimeo animation you may like from last month was actually done in a more interesting way in the 1960s already – and perhaps, it’s good to know that. I also want to screen early films that are so wild, that they make you aware of how boring contemporary work is. Most of the radical work in film is pre-digital, and it’s incredible to see how much beauty that hand-made analog technology had created. For a contrast, I also decided to show a little film that Park Chan-Wook, the Korean director of a big feature like Old Boy, made with his iPhone. It’s probably his best film.

On: Today, 6 pm to 8.30 pm
At: Education Centre, Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum, 91 A, Dr Ambedkar Marg, Byculla (E).
Call: 23731234

About Unknown Territories

Unknown Territories is a screening of rare and radical shorts from the period of 1963 to 2012. This is part of the fifth edition of the monthly film screening programme, Movies At The Museum at Dr Bhau Daji Lad City Museum.

Dream Work by Peter Tscherkassky (35mm/CinemaScope/2011)
Dream Work by Peter Tscherkassky (35mm/CinemaScope/2011)

The screening includes abstract films by American filmmaker Jordan Belson, the hybrid cinema of Finnish filmmaker Mika Taanila and Iranian maverick Forough Farrokhzad, among others. Ahluwalia will also be in conversation with Avijit Mukul Kishore and Rohan Shivkumar, in charge of the Movies At The Museum.

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