new south asian documentary
Thursday, September 25, 2014
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
NYU Cinema Studies, 721 Broadway, Michelson Theater, 6th Floor, Manhattan

Presented with The Center for Religion & Media at New York University


New South Asian Documentary: On and Off Screen is a symposium bringing together scholars, filmmakers, and programmers to engage in conversations about the current trends, concerns, and challenges in non-fiction media making practice in and about South Asia.

Free & Open to All

Schedule of Events*

Thursday, Sept 25:

6 pm: Welcome/Opening Remarks/Introduction – Tejaswini Ganti (Anthropology, NYU) author of Producing Bollywood: Inside the Contemporary Hindi Film Industry (Duke University Press, 2012)

6:30-8: Screening: Beyond Bollywood (55min., 2013, Dir: Ruchika Mucchala, India/USA). Bollywood churns out more movies than any other film business, and ‘making it’ is the Indian dream. This intimate documentary shows life on the industry’s fringes: from make-up artist Ojas and expat extras, to rising star Pooja Kasekar. Discussion: filmmaker Ruchika Mucchala with Arjun Appadurai (Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge NYU)

Beyond Bollywood poster

Friday, September 26th:

9:30: Welcome/Opening Remarks – Tejaswini Ganti (Anthropology, NYU)

9:45-10:30: Keynote – Nicole Wolf  (Goldsmiths, University of London), author of the forthcoming Make it Real! Documentary Politics and Feminist Thought in India and guest editor with Bhaskar Sarkar, Jan. 2012 Special Issue: India Documentary Studies: Contours of a Field in BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies (Sage)

10:45-12:30: Screening - Nirnay (56 min., 2012, Dirs: Pushpa Rawat, Anupama Srinivasan). Set in a lower-middle class neighborhood in the outskirts of Delhi and filmed over a three year period, first-time filmmaker Pushpa Rawat’s documents her personal journey as she tries to make sense of her own life and that of her women friends. DiscussionCo-director Anupama Srinivasan with Nilita Vachani (Film & TV, NYU), filmmaker (When Mother Comes Home for Christmas, Diamonds in a Vegetable Market, Eyes of Stone)

nirnay still


2-3:30: Panel: Collaboration/Empowerment - filmmakers Anupama Srinivasan (Nirnay), Sunanda Bhat (Have you Seen the Arana, Let’s Make it Right, Gold Drop), Gargi Sen (Magic Lantern Movies), and Ishita Srivastava (Breakthrough) with Nicole Wolf  (Goldsmiths, University of London). Moderator: Deborah Matzner (Wellesly College)

3:45-5:45: Screening/Presentation - A selection of work by Kannan Arunasalam, award-winning filmmaker, narrative journalist and media consultant who uses documentary, photography and multimedia forms of storytelling: The Story of One (19 mins), the story of one of the 8,000 people who  ‘disappeared’ during the war between state security forces in Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tiger rebels; The Diaspora Diaries: Broken (13:44 min.)portrait of an elderly, former champion high jumper in Sri Lanka; and episodes from the I Am projecta series of  66, 3 min portraits in stills and sound, collected over many years. Special Sneak preview: News from Jaffna (25 mins), airing on Al Jazeera’s Witness Sept 29th). Discussion: Kannan Arunasalam with Vasuki Nesiah (Gallatin Human Rights Initiative), legal scholar focusing on public international law.


 6-8: Screening - Have You Seen the Arana? (73 min, 2012,Dir: Sunanda Bhat, India). Set in Wayanad, part of the fragile ecosystem of the western mountain range in South India, the film takes you on a journey through a region that is witnessing drastic transformation in the name of ‘development’, exploring the effects of this rapidly changing landscape on people’s lives and livelihoods. Discussion: filmmaker Sunanda Bhat, Ritty Lukose (Gallatin, NYU). Moderator: Pegi Vail (NYU Center for Media, Culture and History)


Saturday, September 27th:

9:30am: Welcome/Opening Remarks – Tejaswini Ganti (Anthropology, NYU)

10-11:30am: Screening - Afsan’s Long Day (40 min., 2014, Dir: Naeem Mohaiemen, Bangladesh/USA). Mohaiemen’s work explores radical politics of the 1970s. This new essay film, a follow-up to his United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part 1), looks at the dissolution of the Left and makes connections between German radicalism and Bangladeshi activist politics. Discussion: filmmaker Naeem MohaiemenAshish Chaddha (University of Rhode Island)

11:30-1pm: Roundtable: Censorship -  filmmakers Naeem Mohaiemen, Kannan Arunasalam, and Kesang Tseten. Moderator: Tilottama Karlekar (Media, Culture and Communication, NYU)

2:30-4:15: Roundtable: The Political Economy of Documentary Filmmaking - filmmakers Ruchika Mucchala (Beyond Bollywood, The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar) with Gargi Sen (Magic Lantern Movies), Deborah Matzner (Anthropology, Wellesley College), and Ashish Chaddha (University of Rhode Island). Moderator: Tejaswini Ganti (Anthropology, NYU)

4:30-6:30: Screening - Who Will Be a Gurkha? (75 min., 2012, Dir: Kesang Tseten, Nepal). Gurkhas, famous for wielding a curved khukuri knife, have been fighting for Britain for 200 years. Today, Nepalis continue to be lured to the British Army as paid Gurkhas, undergoing grueling tests to win the very few positions available. The selection process presents an elaborate modern-day ritual born in the days of Empire. Discussion:  filmmaker Kesang Tseten (Who Will Be a Gurkha? We Homes Chaps, We Corner People, On the road with the red god: Machhendranath) with Luna Ranjit, Co-founder and Executive Director, Adhikaar, a NY based non-profit working with the Nepali community to promote human rights and social justice. Moderator: Pegi Vail (NYU Center for Media, Culture and History)


Co-Sponsors: South Asia@NYU, Marron Institute, Anthropology, Cinema Studies, Visual Arts Initiative, Bobst Library, Gallatin Human Rights Program, Of Many Institute For Multifaith Leadership, The Center On Violence And Recovery, Asian/Pacific/American Studies, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute

*Subject to change, please check back



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