China to host fest of Indian New Wave

A retrospective of Indian New Wave Cinema from the 50s to 70s is set to play this October in China at the Pingyao International Film Festival. 

The 12-film package will arguably be the biggest retrospective of its kind in China. The country normally is known to not allow more than 10 films in a foreign retrospective.

The aim of the retrospective is to focus on iconic Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. “No one in China knows who Ghatak is,” says Marco Mueller, curator of the retrospective and the artistic director of PYIFF.

Mr. Mueller has been working on the project for over a year. But his passion for and interest in the Indian New Wave goes back decades. “He wants to keep the memory of those works alive… The retrospective is about the formal breakthroughs in the cinematic medium,” says programme coordinator Deepti DCunha.

PYIFF retrospectives each year zoom in on the national New Wave cinema; last year it showcased the Russian New Wave. 

As part of the programme this year two of Ghatak’s films, Ajantrik (1957) and Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), will be screened. His lineage — works of some of his students at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) like Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani — will also be show cased.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the National Film Archives of India and the National Film Development Corporation will be co-hosting the retrospective and have been the key facilitators in putting it together.

 “Some of the key films of the Indian New Wave had been financed by the NFDC and the Film Finance Corporation. They are repositories of history,” says Mr. Mueller. Ms. DCunha hopes that all the films will be restored and digitised well in time for the festival. “Curation is pushing for the restoration,” she says.

 Uncomfortable insights

A ubiquitous recent urban phenomenon has been that of the app based service providers. The people at the end of these logistics chains and in direct contact with consumer — the drivers working with Uber or Ola and the delivery boys of Zomato or Swiggy — often make one wonder about their lives and relationships and the many stories that might be lurking in them.

Ken Loach, a master chronicler of the British working class and underprivileged, brings alive one such tale with a rare journalistic rigour, research and detailing. At the base of the script of Sorry We Missed You are the interviews conducted with several workers, as has been spelt out in the end credits. 

But Mr. Loach does much more. He packs in the sympathy and sensitivity of a humane filmmaker as well as the savage critical perspective of a persistent social observer in a film that is already being pitched as a frontrunner in the top category prize: Palme D’Or.

He takes us into the world of Ricky, a construction worker, who on losing his job to the economic crash, becomes a freelance delivery guy for a company called Parcel Delivery Fast. His wife Abbie is a caregiver of several old and afflicted souls. 

 Freelance but not free

Mr. Loach gives us a no holds barred look into exploitative world of the emerging freelance economy in which the workers are sold the lie of being their own bosses and in this guise are provided with no benefits or incentives whatsoever. They have extreme accountability and strict targets but no rights worth speaking of.

It’s all about more work and less hours for yourself and your family. It’s amply clear that as the world gets less and less equitable, it’s getting tougher for the working class to get by. The “warriors” are the “losers” eventually.

Mr. Loach shines a light on the inherent dehumanisation in the new economy by bringing the less than ordinary world of Ricky and Abbie under the microscope. Could there be a film on their endless problems, the mounting debts, the troubles with a teenager at home? Yes, indeed. A compelling and incredibly moving one at that.


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Tags : AjantrikIndian New Wave CinemaMeghe Dhaka TaraNew Wave cinemaNFDCPingyao International Film FestivalPYIFFRitwik Ghatak

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