Voices from the margins in Tamil Nadu inform a cinema package comprising documentaries and short films across a wide range of styles and topics that started Thursday evening on the sidelines of the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB).
Titled ‘Marupakkam (The Other Side)’, the four-day package – specially curated by filmmaker and activist Amudhan R.P. – is both socio-political critique and alternate record of seminal events and personalities in the state’s history.
The package, which takes its title from Amudhan’s media activism organisation, will feature 10 screenings over February 23-26 as part of the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s ‘Artists’ Cinema’ programme. The shows will start 6.30 pm daily at the Pavilion in Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi.
The works presented in the package explore aspects of the subaltern as diverse as the prevalence of caste-based occupations and their modern-day parallels in class-specific roles, questions of Tamil Muslim history and identity framed within a celebration of brotherhood, the inner thoughts of emerging child artistes and of the many in Chennai dispossessed of their homes and livelihoods by the mantra of urban development.
“Through the package, I have tried to bring ‘the other’ voices from Tamil Nadu, which do not get represented in the mainstream media. These voices are multiple, sensible and inclusive. They may at times contradict and oppose each other. But they are significant voices nonetheless,” said Amudhan, whose oeuvre includes trilogies on caste, nuclear radiation and development.
The package also explores different facets of the Sri Lankan civil war: from stories of enforced disappearances to the futility of war, and the economic and cultural displacement of the people caught in the crossfire. As well, there is a documentary each on iconic poet and social reformer Chinnaswami Subramania Bharati and celebrated contemporary vocalist Sanjay Subramaniam.
“The grouping of the films over the four days has been based on their distinctive themes and styles. They at times compliment, at times juxtapose, at times accompany. Some of their works are very local, some are very international, some are strikingly in your face, some are subtle, some are observational, some are avant-garde and some are simple and straightforward,” said Amudhan, who founded both the Chennai International Documentary and Short Film Festival and the Madurai International Documentary and Short Film Festival.
Besides reflecting the underrepresented voices and hidden narratives in Tamil Nadu, the package is also intended as a showcase of the “vibrant, independent, adventurous and fluid culture” of film and documentary making in the state.
“Some of the filmmakers from Tamil Nadu are well known outside both the state and India, travelling regularly to film festivals, film schools and workshops. They have won many awards, fans, support and funding across the world,” Amudhan said.
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