Saturday, Feb 22, 2020 | Last Update : 03:22 AM IST

A crash course on history of cinema

Published : Oct 28, 2016, 11:05 pm IST
Updated : Oct 28, 2016, 11:05 pm IST

Shaina Anand, speaks about her curated section, The New Medium, that showcased history of the moving image, which was launched this year at the MAMI film festival

7LIS-RHODES-AT-THE-ANN-ARBOR-ART-CENTER-ANN-ARBOR-FILM-FESTIVAL.jpg
 7LIS-RHODES-AT-THE-ANN-ARBOR-ART-CENTER-ANN-ARBOR-FILM-FESTIVAL.jpg

Shaina Anand, speaks about her curated section, The New Medium, that showcased history of the moving image, which was launched this year at the MAMI film festival

Filmmaker and film curator, Shaina Anand is part of CAMP, an archival endeavour, which according to its website, can be an acronym for more than a lakh combinations ranging from Comfort After Minor Possibilities to Critical Art and Metaphorical Publics.

It was set up by Ashok Sukumaran, Sanjay Bhangar and Shaina in 2007. Shaina and Ashok were the main forces behind the curation of The New Medium category at MAMI, which saw some of the most interesting films at the festival this year. Excerpt of the interview with Shaina.

How did The New Medium at MAMI come into being Last year at MAMI we presented the work of CAMP in a talk titled Cinema at the Time of More Cameras than People (CAMP). We also invited film historians and scholars to present their work on our online archive at indiancine.ma. Both of these happened inside the cinema hall. CCTV feeds, Internet archives, interactive art were laying claim to this space. The festival chairperson, who works closely with us on the online archive, was keen to continue with what was then called the experimental strand at MAMI. He wanted to integrate it into the mainstream programming and invited us to curate it.

The New Medium as a program would put a spin on the much misunderstood new media art, and invite us to enter the rive of time sideways, to look back 90 odd years and see how the medium was being invented and pushed.

Tell us about the curatorial decisions you took for selecting the specific films for the festival. What was the main objective and aim of The New Medium It was an organic process. The titles for The New Medium fell together over one night of conversation, and that too in chronology. They are tightly twinned together; Man with the Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov (1929) audaciously claims to develop a universal language for cinema without the help of theatre (setting, drama and actors) and literature (narrative), whereas Kalpana by Uday Shankar (1948) pushes dance and theatre into the medium of cinema. Both also happen at the time of new promises— communism and independence. This twinning goes on more or less through the programming.

What were the challenges of curating for the festival Sourcing the prints was the challenge. But we were in for some good surprises. Man with the movie Camera (1929) Kalpana, (1948) Far From Vietnam (1967) Vampir Cuadecuc (1971), Space is the Place, (1974), Agraharathil Kazuthai (1976), Evolution of a Filipino Family (1994-2004) have all been restored over the past four years. Some of the prints came from cultural institutions like Arsenale Berlin or LUX. The newer films were sourced directly from the author. None of these films are in today’s standard formats and so we were up each night ensuring good projection, and good sound.

It was important to open the programming for The New Medium with Man with a Movie Camera to a live score. A lot of research went into finding the right band — and I was happy to be able to bring in musicians from Ukraine — Vertov filmed a lot of the film in the cities of Odessa and Kiev which were then the thriving cities of the Soviet Union. It was important that the musicians came from these 2 cities, and Ukraine’s place be marked, even if silently so.

According to you how important is the history, pedagogy and innovation of cinema And where do you think the future of cinema is headed especially in India It’s vital. And there is not too much of it. The people who got deep into The New Medium’s programming were in their 60’s and 70’s. I kid you not. For the young generation, on the one hand there is access to lots of information, on the other there is a pedagogic crisis. Both pad.ma and indiancine.ma and our roof top cinema try to fill the gap in rigorous ways, autonomously.

That said, the poetry and resilience of the Lady of the Lake that won the India Gold Prize give us a lot of hope.