May 9, 2019 at 7:30 pm
With Anal Shah in conversation with Jim Supanick
UnionDocs presents a trio of films created by Indian filmmaker and photographer, Anal Shah. On the surface, the aesthetic approach and focal points of these films are displaced within a trichotomy. What links these films together is their relationship to tangible and metaphysical borders that exist within the same terrain.
Each film unveils the existence of an allusive parallel; the absence of narration in and quiet gaze of Kalaripayattu presents a boundary between the viewer and footage shot at various gyms in India. Ladakh Diary focuses on the literal existence of India’s border with Pakistan on one side, and with China on the other. The use of archival and personal footage in Chalchitra-Railyatra redefines the notion of borders and boundaries within the history and reality of a collective experience. From cinéma vérité, to the use of archival footage and essayistic styles, these vehicles of storytelling used by Shah assist in creating a connection between the content and its visuals. Through the interpretation of the viewer and post screening discussion with Anal Shah and Jim Supanick, the parallels of these cinematic thresholds will unfold.
26 min., 2012
Ladakh Diary is a ‘border film’. After all, it quietly gazes upon a region north of the Himalayas that is sandwiched between two of the most disputed borders- India’s border with Pakistan on one side, and with China on the other. But the film carefully avoids the obvious military presence. Instead, it gazes at a presence that has inhabited the region since before the borders were created. Unfolding like the leaves of a personal diary, punctuated by the presence of the Buddha, the film is a meditation on life in Ladakh.
42 min., 2014
Chalchitra-Railyatra is a 60-minute experimental documentary tale about Railways and Cinema, the marriage between the two, by way of revisiting images of railways in Indian Cinema interwoven with a personal journey of the filmmaker aboard various trains in India. India has the worlds largest railway network; it is also the biggest film industry in the world. While one is a mode of transportation, the other is a medium that transports us. We stand in long lines for their tickets. The Train takes us on a journey, which may provide the longest tracking shot of the Indian landscape. The Movie, on the other hand, suspends our disbelief and takes us on a journey of its own diegesis. Both of these vehicles, individually and combined, blur, break, bridge and ultimately redefine the notion of borders and boundaries in the collective experience that constitutes and continues to evolve as the Indian Psyche. Structurally and visually this film will shunt seamlessly between the two parallel tracks. One will trace the memory of trains in films as seen through clips/shots of archival material accompanied by the filmmakers commentary. The other will be the filmmakers own personal journey with a camera aboard trains through an intimately observed cinema verite approach. The first track evokes history and memory, while the other invokes reality.
28 min., 2017
Anal Shah’s latest short Kalaripayattu is woven from observational footage shot at various gyms showing the oldest martial arts of the world, Kalaripayattu. Intriguingly, the film offers no explanation via narration, thus encouraging the viewer into an unfiltered sensory experience. The task for the viewer is to find the hidden and embedded snippets of personal history in the work. “I see my work as a visual diary of my observations.”
Anal Shah is an Indian filmmaker and photographer. As someone who straddles multiple cultures between his academic and creative practice, Anal’s work explores issues of identity, migration, and other things that are usually “lost in translation”. His work has been shown at numerous Festivals including premieres at the Vienna International Film Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival and Detroit Docs to name just a few. Anal received both his undergraduate as well as graduate education at the California Institute of the Arts.
Jim Supanick is a videomaker and writer born in Cleveland, Ohio, and living in Brooklyn. Forthcoming videos include a long-term project titled “Seed Sold Back to the Farmer”, a two-part animated essay about the assembly line and its legacy of damage, as well as a re-edited segment of Caspar Stracke’s “Circle’s Short Circuit” (featuring an interview with Avital Ronell). He has received support from NYSCA, the Puffin Foundation, and the Experimental Television Center. His essays on film, video, and visual culture have appeared in such publications as Film Comment, Millennium Film Journal, The Wire, Cineaste, and The Brooklyn Rail, along with exhibition catalogs and with DVD releases. He is the recipient of a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and a NYFA Grant for Nonfiction Literature. He is also a member of Synthhumpers, a quasi-musical collaboration with Josh Solondz. Jim currently teaches at City College of New York.
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