The seventh edition of the Chennai International Documentary and Short Film Festival began on February 6 at the Goethe-Institut Max-Mueller Bhavan. Jointly organised by Goethe and Marupakkam, the festival brought regional and international documentaries across genres and subjects, to the city.
Eminent documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, whose Reason is one of the films to be screened, was part of the festival. Supriyo Sen’s 2003 documentary Way Back Home is another film on the list.
The second day of the festival started off with the screening of a documentary by the legendary German filmmaker Wener Herzog. The filmmaker’s 1971 documentary film Land of Silence and Darkness focused on deaf and blind people and their lives. The story was told from the perspective of Fini Straubinger, a woman who became deaf and blind early in her life, and the camera captured her as she went about talking to other people and helped them cope with life. The documentary was hard-hitting without turning melodramatic. Apart from throwing light on the side-lined lives of disabled people, the film forced the viewer to introspect about life and its priorities.
This was followed by the screening of 9 Pencinimakal – a collection of nine short films curated by actor Archana Padmini. Comprising entirely independent women filmmakers, partly from the film schools in Kerala, the collection aimed to offer a new language in filmmaking. Talking about her package of films, Padmini told Silverscreen, “I have picked independent films, made by women who practice filmmaking, and have been made from a female perspective but in a gender-sensitive manner.”
“Certain filmmakers have attempted this; some have even succeeded while some have had to fall back on the old tropes at certain points in their films. Nevertheless, the package does succeed in introducing this new cinematic language to the viewers,” she added.
The first feature film Catharsis, made by the late filmmaker Indira, talked about the political killings in the northern district of Kannur in Kerala. Akam, the second film, was a story about an old woman. The third film, Indu, spoke about the life of a college going student and her infatuation for her teacher. These films featured three women from different age groups but hailing from a middle class/lower middle-class background.
The closing ceremony will be held today at 6.45 pm and the festival will close with the screening of Werner Herzog’s Wheel of Time.
Image Courtesy: Catharsis, Land of Silence and Darkness and Wagah