Friday, April 22, 2011

Indian pre-Summer :12th RAI International Film Festival India Strand and ‘A Disappearing World’ at The Brunei Gallery, SOAS

I’ve been having another look at the first day of the film fest (23rd June at UCL) and having a nose around the India strand. Two address elements of faith, religious practice and engagement with ‘The Poojari’s Daughter’ (Gillian Goslinga 2010) looking at the initiation of a Hindu priestess and the motions of every day temple life surrounding significant events in the lives of the ordained. Faith healing through possession is looked at in ‘Drugs and Prayers’ (Helene Basu 2010) through the lens of (and as a form of) community care centring on the activity of a Sufi temple. Both present 360 views through the actors drawn together and co-involved in both the places and practices. A different view of grassroots militancy by members of an untouchable caste is presented in ‘Pink Sari’s’ (Kim Longinotto 2010). These indomitable women in the signature sari’s of the title fight for social justice and against oppression in the wider social world by resisting low-class ascription. They also address the microcosm of ‘the in-laws’ family world and resist the oppression of abuses inflicted by family members when moving into the invariably restrictive realm of their husbands’ domestic world.

The India strand continues throughout the festival with a great-looking film on one man’s journey of discovery, spirit and humanity through Tantra in ‘The Lover and the Beloved: A Journey into Tantra’ (Andy Lawrence/Rajive McMullen 2011). Also, there are explorations into contemporary material culture meaning and practice in textile and music production. Regarding the textiles there is ‘The Stitches Speak (Tanko Bole Chhe)’ (Nina Sabnani 2010) and ‘A Looming Past’ (Sashi Sivramkrishna 2010) and the making and use of traditional musical instruments in ‘Two Day Fair (Do Din Ka Mela)’ (Anjali Monteiro, K.P. Jayasankar 2009). Take a look at the Indian part of the map on the ‘Programme’ page on the website at Early bird pass can also still be nabbed until 15th May at

This strand ties-in nicely with another focus on India at The Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. ‘A Disappearing World’ (until 25th June) features photos by Robert Wallis and artwork by the Tribal Women’s Artist Collective illustrating the confrontation and negotiation of ancestral Adivasi ways of being and living on and off the land, as old meets new. The exhibition looks at how Adivasi worship and protection of nature translates and influences land use, artistic traditions, and cultural customs and the effect of current development, modernisation and natural resource exploitation in the Adivasi heartland of Jharkaland. For details check out

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