Independent film festival ‘EXPERIMENTA’ back in Bengaluru after five-year hiatus

Founded by filmmaker Shai Heredia in 2003, EXPERIMENTA has been working in association with artists, art educators, curators, and filmmakers across the globe
A still from film ‘Sudesha’, to be screened at the festival
A still from film ‘Sudesha’, to be screened at the festival

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore and Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art of Berlin, together, are set to present independent film festival EXPERIMENTA 2023. After a five-year hiatus, the 11th edition of the biennial festival is back in the city. It will start on January 18 at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore. Founded by filmmaker Shai Heredia in 2003, EXPERIMENTA has been working to create support for and shape the contemporary discourse around experimental films in India.

This year, the festival will open with a special screening of the 1971 French film Mes Voisins (My Neighbors) by Med Hondo. Payal Kapadia's Cannes award winning film A Night of Knowing Nothing will be the closing film. 

<strong>A still from the opening film <em>Mes Voisins</em></strong>
A still from the opening film Mes Voisins

What to expect

“We have chosen not to have a competition programme of new films, and the focus has shifted towards screening rarely seen international archival films alongside a few contemporary works that intersect both formally and in terms of ideas explored,” said festival director Shai Heredia. Through the screening of these films and post-screening discussions, the festival aims to reflect upon the relevance of the history of global social movements happening today and cinema as an art form persisting across time to offer critical representations of nations. 

Highlights of festival

An artist profile of Berlin-based filmmaker Sylvia Schedelbauer will also be showcased. Sylvia's work revolves around essay filmmaking and structuralist cinema. Her films often explore the space between larger historical narratives and personal, psychological worlds, through poetic interpretations of archival footage. “She has a very sophisticated craft of bringing the personal and political together through found footage. Her films are one of a kind and incredibly experiential,” said Shai, commenting on Sylvia’s work.

<strong>A still from Sylvia Schedelbauer's film <em>Labour Of Love</em></strong>
A still from Sylvia Schedelbauer's film Labour Of Love

On the other hand, artist-curator Merv Espina will present the specially curated programme Media Encounters – Foreign Affairs, which will feature a collection of the Goethe-Institute film and video workshops conducted between the late Cold War and the early post-Soviet era. This programme is part of an ongoing research project.

Fighting Inequity

Through screening films like Yolande du Luart’s Angela – Portrait of a Revolutionary and Howard Alk’s Murder of Fred Hampton, the festival will attempt to offer insights into struggles against racism and the power of cinema as a tool of resistance. 

Taking the discourse around inequity a step further, the festival will also celebrate the works of Yugantar Film Collective, India’s first feminist film collective, founded in 1980. Speaking about their work, Shai said, “They are powerful cinematic documents of important womens' movements in India. Many of the issues the films address continue to resonate quite strongly today.” Two such films created by the collective, Sudesha and Molkarin, will be screened at EXPERIMENTA. This will be followed by an in-person conversation with one of the founders of the collective, Deepa Dhanraj. 

<strong>A still from Priya Sen’s latest film <em>No Stranger At All</em> </strong>
A still from Priya Sen’s latest film No Stranger At All

Bengaluru-based filmmaker Priya Sen’s latest feature film No Stranger At All will also premiere at the festival, followed by a post-screening discussion with her. Other films to be showcased will include Chris Marker’s short film On Vous parle de Paris: Maspero, les mots ont un sens (Calling from Paris: Maspero, Words Have a Meaning) and Ruchir Joshi’s Memories of Milk City.

Entry free. January 18-22. At Indiranagar. Details: 8022511300

Email: prattusa@newindianexpress
Twitter: @MalllikPrattusa

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