Life in 16mm

Updated: Dec 01, 2019, 09:58 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi | Mumbai

The 16mm Film Festival is going places. And they have a preview in Mumbai that you wouldn't want to miss

Events in a Cloud Chamber, 2016, by Ashim Ahluwalia is a ghost story, meditating on vanished art, mortality and the phantoms we leave behind
Events in a Cloud Chamber, 2016, by Ashim Ahluwalia is a ghost story, meditating on vanished art, mortality and the phantoms we leave behind

Just in its third edition, the 16mm Film Festival has turned into a must-go on the annual calendar of visual artists and celluloid lovers. That's why the organisers decided to spread their wings and present films shot on 'film' to audiences at the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa from December 15 to 22. Under the umbrella of India on Film, they will hold screenings of gems from the last seven decades, documentaries to features, workshops and interactive installations. The idea is to give centrestage to the medium, celebrate the Indian experiments on film and explore the relationship between the art and craft of 'making' and of the medium of 'film'.

Filmmaker and curator of the festival, Karan Talwar of Harkat Studios, says, "When a form and medium that's written off as dead receives an overwhelming response, it only goes to say that it has interest among makers. People think film is thriving but it's not. The discourse around film and moving images is dismal and in a world where we only judge things in numbers and views, it's heartening to know that people still care about the intricacies of the making of it."

The fest wants to relive the magic of churning a film through a projector
The fest wants to relive the magic of churning a film through a projector

The special programme at Serendipity is not an extension of the 16mm festival but rather its own curation. Talwar adds, "We're not hung up on making a property out of this. Why we do what we do is more important. We have found partners in Kodak, LaborBerlin, GoetheInstitut and now Serendipity. Collaborating makes it survive, keeps our principles in place and lets us take it to an entirely new audience. It enables this to become bigger without selling out to some alcohol brand."

In contrast to the 16mm in Mumbai, where the approach is international, at Serendipity, the thrust will be on Indian experiments on film. Works by a cross section of Indian makers like Ashim Ahluwalia, Akbar Padamsee, Shai Heredia and Ashish Avikunthak will be showcased. "There are more than 20 films, a handmade film workshop, including one that enables young makers to make a one-minute film on 16mm film," says Talwar.

Karan Talwar
Karan Talwar

Film to catch

Events in a Cloud Chamber
In 1969, artist Akbar Padamsee made this visionary 16mm film—the only Indian experimental film he ever made. The print is now lost and no copies exist. Over 40 years later, filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia worked with Padamsee, now 89, to remake the film. "It celebrates the beauty of celluloid. I'm just looking to the past to find inspiration because there were so many productions that started but were never finished," says Ahluwalia.

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