Wednesday, November 12 | 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Kumar Talkies, with Filmmaker Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Kumar Talkies is a run-down cinema in small town Kalpi, where few films run longer than a few days, and each screening is missing a number of songs and dances, thanks to the projectionist’s whims. Once owned by the filmmaker’s father, it remembers better days, as seen unearthed through family testimonies and 8mm footage. Still, the faces of moviegoers reflected in the dark speak for themselves — the magic of cinema will never cease to captivate. The film explores the relationship between Kalpi — a small town in northern India — and its only surviving cinema hall, a decrepit and cash-strapped shed located in a particularly dirty corner of the town. The film documents cinema as simultaneously a vehicle that conveys a remote, urban, imagination to a small town such as Kalpi, and a medium in which different people expect their localized existence to be captured and displayed. The film chronicles Kalpi’s economic decline and its citizens’ hopes and frustrations while taking a nostalgic look at the lost, lavish world of cinema. The film also considers the influence of television, which is gradually reducing the audience at the hall.
Kumar Talkies has received numerous awards and distinctions, including Best Film at L’Alternativa, Barcelona; Special Jury Citation at the Zanzibar Film Festival; the National Award for Best Audiography in 1999; and screenings at more than forty international film festivals. It was produced with financial support from the Hubert Bals Fund, Rotterdam and India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore.
After graduating from the Film and Television Institute, Pune, India, in 1992, with a specialization in Film Editing, Pankaj Rishi Kumar served as assistant editor on Sekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen. Kumar Talkies (2000) is Kumar’s first independent film. Subsequently, Kumar has become a one man crew producing, directing, shooting and editing his own films — Pather Chujaeri, The Vote, Gharat, 3 Men and a Bulb, Punches n Ponytails, and Seeds of Dissent. His films have been screened at festivals all over the world. He has won grants from Hubert Bals, IFA, Jan Vrijman, AND (Korea), Banff, Majlis, Sarai and Pad.ma. Kumar was awarded an Asia Society fellowship at Harvard Asia Centre (2003). He was a TA at the first Asian Film Academy (Pusan), and also curates and teaches.
Admission is free. Sponsored by the Asian Studies Program, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts (CIRCA), the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC), and the Department of Visual Arts.
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