Manifest Dance-Film Festival 2.0 is here! So dance like no one’s watching!

We don’t hear of dance film festivals too often, do we? That’s what this event aims to change, boasting also of some amazing films and live performances 
A still from Neon Phantom
A still from Neon Phantom

The second edition of Manifest Dance-Film Festival is back with films from around 40 countries! Isn’t that massive to say the least? Oh well, the festival will also witness some brilliant performances by artistes from India and outside.

Since  its  launch  last  year in venues in Pondicherry and Auroville, the Manifest Dance-Film Festival has garnered international attention with artistes travelling from the US, EU and South Korea to attend this dance-film festival. The festival has been organised by Auro-Apaar — a dance-film collective founded by Ashavari Majumdar and Abhyuday Khaitan.

Featuring India and Asia premieres of international dance-films, Manifest’23  received around 250 submissions from across five continents, out of which 50 films from  21 countries are being screened. 
Opening with the India premiere of Neon Phantom, the festival provides a unique platform for Indian dance-filmmakers to present their work in the ‘Open Slot’. The event will close with a live performance by contemporary Flamenco by French-Israeli dancer Naya Binghi.

Dance-films are a radical new genre blending the languages of cinema and dance attracting enthusiastic young audiences from across India. The Manifest Dance-Film Festival is a unique event that showcases Pondicherry as a forward-looking cultural destination. “Through AuroApaar, we have also incubated six short dance-films in the last eight months in an attempt to put Indian dance-films on the international map. Some of the films have already won awards and been screened at major international dance-film festivals in the US and UK. Three of the films from the recent incubator, Clean Up, Plastis and I Am Paper — all on the theme of zero waste — are being shown at Manifest ’23,” says Abhyuday, head of programming for the festival, while festival director Ashavari says, “This festival bridges dance and film and is the space for new creation.”

Naya Binghi
Naya Binghi

Flamenco with Naya
A dancer and choreographer from Israel, Naya Binghi in her works investigates a personal language of movement that mixes Flamenco with contemporary dance and art forms. She has been supported by the Embassy of Israel to participate in this festival, where she will be screening her dance movie Hisin 15 and will also perform a solo. “It’s about how the body feels when manifesting. I was a social activist in Israel, I still am sometimes; but when I was very active, my body was affected by the energy of wanting to change something. This solo is about that — the willingness to change without seeing the possibility of really making the change,” Naya says.

Talking about why such  an initiative as this festival is significant, Naya tells us, “The dance scene is growing. And dancers and choreographers need a platform to showcase their dance movies and their art. Manifest encourages an exchange of culture and art. We have so much to learn from artists here, and so much to share.”

Sugandh Lamba
Sugandh Lamba

Up for upcycling? 
A multidisciplinary artist and an educator, Sugandh Lamba’s practice encompasses dance, theatre, photography and filmmaking. Originally from Delhi but currently living in Mumbai, Sugandh is a trained Kathak dancer since the age of five, having received initial training at Pt Birju Maharaj’s Kalasharam.

At the Manifest, through her performance, Sugandh will present a story that revolves around the theme of waste management and upcycling. “It follows a piece of paper floating aimlessly through the city until it ends up on a beach with other trash. However, its fate changes when someone rescues and recycles it, giving it a new purpose,” says the artiste.

Sugandh believes Manifest “plays a vital role in promoting dance as an art form. Through dance films, festivals preserve and document various dance styles, reaching broader audiences beyond traditional theatres.”

Puneet Jewandah
Puneet Jewandah

Personifying plastic
A performing artiste and a choreographer, Puneet Jewandah draws inspiration from the elements of nature, the stimulation of the senses, and the play between thoughts.

Puneet will be presenting Plastis — an experimental performance that explores the intricate relationship between the human body, plastic, and the environment. The narrative personifies plastic as a living entity, which allows the audience to develop a connection with it and understand its journey from fascination to rejection. “By inviting the viewers to experience the consciousness of plastic, it encourages the audience to reflect on their own relationship with the environment, with one another, and with their attitudes toward non-human entities,” Puneet says. 

Films to watch out for:

Neon Phantom
A delivery man dreams of having a motorcycle, and he was told that everything would be like a musical film.
Director:  Leonardo Martinelli

A still from <em>IO | OI</em>
A still from IO | OI

In IO | OI, with a play of exchanges and reflections, a work of art and its creator dance together inside a post-industrial cathedral, guiding each other step by step, exchanging parts and leaving behind more questions than answers, one above all: Are we the creation or the creator?
Director: Francesco Lorusso
Choreography: Raphael Bianco

Light Rising
The film is a poetic meditation, an ode to the uplifting forces carrying and supporting life. It’s a murmur, it’s a song. Inspired by natural cycles, elements and their interplay, diving into a space of liquid time, flowing onwards, falling and rising, a continuous becoming.
Director: Andrea Hackl

A still from <em>Hisin 15</em>
A still from Hisin 15

Hisin 15
Hisin 15 is framed inside the parting conflict, mixed feelings between a new path of enthusiasm and the duel of leaving behind everything that has represented rootedness for us. An ode to love, an independent love impregnated with freedom without ties, which will always last despite the uncertain future of following a path that will separate us from it. The energy of what we have lived together will remain forever.
Director/Producer/Choreographer: Naya Binghi

A still from <em>Brave Steps</em>
A still from Brave Steps

Brave Steps
The park is desolate, the lake filthy. No sound of joy is to be heard. Optimistic and determined to put an end to the gloom, Duckfoot leaves his pond and sets off. But the gloom soon infects him. He meets friendly gestures with skepticism and the line, “It’s in your hand” tempts him to take a hopeless step. Courage has left him. But from a distance he realises that every deed can have a great effect. He sees his chance to change the world, to gradually transform it into a sunny place.
Director: Wilma Casal

At Lake
At Lake is a surreal meditation on nature and the relationships between movement, landscape and chance. Interpreted through the lens of our current time and shot in Eastern Québec, At Lake is a revisioning of Maya Deren’s iconic 1944 film, At Land. The film is driven by the themes of exploration, separation, duplicity and connection.
Director: Mistaya Hemingway

A still from <em>Mother Melancholia</em>
A still from Mother Melancholia

Mother Melancholia
It’s a multi-layered portrait of four women and a eulogy for the planet set to and inspired by Sóley’s album of the same title, a self-proclaimed soundtrack for the end of the world, as we know it. Co-commissioned by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, the dance film approaches patriarchal politics and ecofeminism through an unguarded, unsettlingly beautiful meditation on the difficulty, and immediacy of being fully present in the world. Filmed in the surreal and eroding Icelandic landscape, Mother Melancholia is a quiet, yet urgent conduit between the internal world of the human experience, and the planet we inhabit.
Director: Samantha Shay

First Dance 2.0
An intimate and playful duet between a one-year-old boy and his mother that serves as a memory capsule.
Director & choreographer: Jingqiu Guan

July 28, 7 pm to 8 pm.
July 29, 10 am to 1 pm 
& 2 pm to 10 pm.July 30, 
10 am to 1 pm & 2 pm to 8 pm.


At Alliance Française de Pondichéry


Related Stories

No stories found.