The term ‘Bollywood’ is cringe-worthy on many levels. Aside from making Hindi cinema, an industry with a long, rich history, appear nothing more than a cheap song-and-dance routine prancing in the shadow of Hollywood, it’s often used to describe all Indian films. In a country with 22 official languages, Hindi is but a piece of the multifaceted mosaic made up of over one billion people.
This Thursday through Sunday, the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria, NY, in partnership with the India Center Foundation will present India Kaleidoscope, a film festival dedicated to Indian regional cinema. The event not only celebrates filmmakers expressing their point of view outside the confines of popular, commercial cinema, it also acknowledges stalwarts who were early pioneers.
Eight films have been selected and in the coming days, Manipuri, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Bengali are some of the languages that will echo inside the Redstone Theater at MoMI, with many of the film directors present.
“We are thrilled to turn the spotlight on Indian regional cinema, showcasing its diversity and richness,” says Christina Marouda, Festival Organizer and MoMI’s Director of Development.
The Opening Night selection India In A Day, executive produced by Ridley Scott, Anurag Kashyap and Google, is incredibly unique in that it is the country’s first crowd-sourced feature film. And a most fitting selection as with over 16,000 submissions, the documentary beautifully illustrates the diversity and dynamism in the South Asian nation.
Ghatashraddha (The Ritual) is the festival’s Special Presentation. The 1977 Kannada film is considered an important work from the Indian Parallel Cinema wave, which emphasized realism and was an alternative to mainstream, escapist fare. The film tells the story of a friendship between a young Brahmin boy and a pregnant widow. The young boy tries to protect his friend by helping her conceal the pregnancy, but failure to succeed in the task leads to grave consequences.
India Kaleidoscope concludes with Tope (The Bait), maestro Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s colorful fable about a prince, postman and tightrope walker whose lives intersect. Dasgupta dazzles the senses while giving the audience insight into class inequality. The renowned auteur will be at the festival’s Sunday closing night screening.
“Consistent with our mission to offer a platform for barrier-breaking and emerging work from the subcontinent, the films featured in India Kaleidoscope film festival are eye opening studies from all corners of India,” says Priya Giri Desai, a Founding Director of The India Center Foundation. “The India Center Foundation is proud to present many of these new voices for the very first time in North America. The festival represents the kind of work we hope to continue: quality collaborations that result in exposure to new sights and sounds to inspire our audience.”
India Kaleidoscope opens at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) this Thursday, December 8 and runs through December 11. For tickets and showtimes, visit http://www.movingimage.us/
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Shivani cannot remember a time when she wasn’t madly in love with Indian cinema, which now inspires much of her writing. She lives in both New York City and Twitterpur at @Shivani510.