All posts filed under: Experimental Cinema

THIS SHAKING KEEPS ME STEADY (Dir. Shehrezad Maher, 2018, Pakistan / U.S.)

In a measured yet painterly wide shot towards the end of what is a hybridised work Maher trains her erudite eye under a bridge, a sort of non-space with a phantasmal ambiance. The familiar concrete structure of the bridge and the calm waters of the river act as a visual memory to a story narrated to us by an ambulance driver. The story is about a woman who tried to commit suicide jumping from a bridge. It is a traumatic memory that forms a composite of recollections by ambulance drivers that are juxtaposed to fictional reconstructions of real life tragedies for television. Closer to an atmospheric and experimental video essay than a documentary, Maher’s choice to fragment recollections into a non-linear narration lets us hear the neglected voices of Karachi as distinctly porous. Re-enactments staged for news media and TV dramas point to the artifice of performativity but this betrayal of reality is seemingly challenged by the ways in which memory also distorts history. But it is the stories narrated by the ambulance drivers that …

GHASHIRAM KOTWAL (Dir. K. Hariharan, Mani Kaul, Kamal Swaroop, Saeed Mirza, 1976, India) – Experiments in Time & Space

Watching Ghashiram Kotwal is equivalent to a punch in the face, cinematically speaking of course, since here is a film, a belligerent work in terms of parallel cinema, antithetical to Indian Cinema. It was a film all but forgotten, salvaged from the Berlin film archive, and restored. Yet again preservation intervened in the historiography of Indian Cinema, revising the past. Ghashiram Kotwal seems like a seminal work now, a crossroads in terms of ideological and aesthetic experimentation, arriving at the peak of the parallel cinema art film movement in 1976. Although the FFC had nothing to do with Ghashiram Kotwal in terms of funding, a natural project to support really, they did help to put in place the necessary conditions for such an experimental film to be realized by a group of emboldened, agit-prop filmmakers coming out of the film institute in Pune. In many ways, Ghashiram Kotwal may not have been possible without Bhuvan Shome or more significantly Mani Kaul’s Uski Roti. The critical success of both films, part of the New Cinema Movement …