Promiti Prova Chowdhury Arts & Culture

The South Asian experience on the silver screen

  • I Saw A God Dance 
    Photo- Ayisha Abrahim

The film programme aims to give the spectators an exploration of certain colonial and postcolonial conditions, like belonging, differences, exile, and displacement – all parts of the regions, history and present day reality. But of course, with a resolutely transnational perspective, in the words of Shanay Jhaveri, the curator of the film programme at the Dhaka Art Summit.

The line up includes films with a literal understanding and consideration of travel. One that might focus exclusively on works made by travelling artists and consequently devotes a section to those films that relate the journeys made by objects across differing contexts and scenarios. 

For example, it pairs Chris Marker and Alain Resnais’s Statues Also Die (1953) that reflects on African tribal objects that have been gathered by ethnographic museums in the West, with Bahman Kiarostami’s The Treasure Cave (2009), where the story of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran and its comprehensive collection of modern western art is told. 

On the other hand, it also makes room for work like Lisl Ponger’s Phantom Foreign Vienna (2004) in which Ponger does not leave Vienna, but films over 70 different cultures and nations, simply by visiting different neighbourhoods in the city. Through Ponger’s film Vienna becomes global, so to speak.

It also projects landscapes that hold emotions, particularly those scarred by violence in a cluster of films that comprises Mani Kaul’s rarely seen but stunning film on Kashmir Before My Eyes (1989), Soon Mi Yoo’s Dangerous Supplement (2005) assembled from found footage shot by American soldiers during the Korean war. 

In a nutshell, the film programme consciously eschews a regional focus, and presents films from across the world, hoping to manifest as an expansive constellation of shared affinities and empathies, but one where each work still retains its own specificity.

Promiti Prova Chowdhury

Promiti Prova Chowdhury is a journalist.

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