photo essay from kerala: third international documentary and short film festival of kerala (june 11-15)

dear readers,

writing to you from chowara, just outside the bustling city of trivandarum, where the 3rd international documentary and short film festival just concluded.

walking up to kairali film hall, welcome to the 3rd intl doc and short film festival of kerala

festival screening schedule

it was an enlightening event, momentum filled, the fuel being beautifully curated malayalam films that were actually and truly a feast for the mind, eye, and ear.

film posters from the festival's line-up

open forum discussions were extremely accessible, and though primarily in english, were impressively engaged. discussions in the open forums dealt tended to veer towards the everlasting question: so how do we get funding to do our films?

open forum discussion on distribution and indie documentaries

us listening at the open forum discussions

the debates were occasionally heated, with marked splits between those doing issue based or activist films (say, in direct collaboration with a rights based group or movement), and those who were clearly money and international distribution oriented. i guess there’s got to be room for both. especially in a country where so many people are still making less than $100 u.s. dollars a month.

here in the south, i am regularly reminded of cuba. from the swollen skies and ample sun, to the green of palms, to the signs with che guevara and communisms red sickle. here’s just one example, from the book sellers table at the film festival.

other books of interest: women in malayalam film, asian cult cinema

there is so much learning i pick up just by virtue of being in india, reading the papers, particularly “the hindu” in all its regional formations. it is through these tidbits of knowledge, bread crumbs of information that i start to form a picture of a whole nation. in america, i’m always hearing about india as a developing nation. but that is, of course, a misnomer. i passed a temple on the way to the film festival that was easily 800 years old. so lets be real, india is at the very least a re-developing nation.

the film festival offered an incisive look into the ways in which india is, has been, and will continue to be developing. for example, i saw a documentary entitled, “yours truly john,” by the festival’s patron saint, the late filmmaker, sarat chandran.

sarat chandran's image shining at the festival. someone needs to do a wiki entry on this man.

the film chronicled the life of john abraham, a filmmaker both of and before his time. even though i am in school for cinema, i’m not sure i would have learned much about either sarat or john if it wasn’t for this festival. check out the pics below. special shout out to the women on the women and documentary filmmaking panel, especially shazia khan, who screened her new film, “caravan,” on the journey of islam through india. so inspiring to see dope filmmakers, who also happen to be desi and female, doing the damn thing.

women filmmakers featured at the open discussion on june 14, kairali

the rains are coming, i can feel it in the cooling air. going to tuck in for the night. stay tuned for more from india.

peace,
roopa singh

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