It happened about a decade ago, ‘film’ as a medium was discarded by the film industry, almost overnight. Decades worth of knowledge, equipment and processes were put to the side and the craft of the ‘making’ of a film was sealed shut in boxes, in forgotten storages. The ‘medium’ on which the inception of the moving image happened had become a casualty in the beautiful democratisation which came with the digital age. 

An entire generation of makers slowly realized that along with the craft making tools, they also lost a large trove of meticulous artistic processes, built with each successive maker. ‘Would a painter be able to make the same work without oils and canvas?’, quipped one young filmmaker. 

‘India on film’ investigates the relationship between the art and craft of making on ‘film’ through a series of film screenings, workshops and installations. The intent is to explore this shift after the dismemberment of a medium, of what has changed in the telling of stories, by celebrating experiments on film from the Indian subcontinent.

The curatorial spreads its net wide. From the Films Division docu-dramas on ‘Indian-life’, nation building and ‘Indian-ness’, to the art history and anthropology seeped works of Amit Dutta, to contemporary artists like Shai Heredia, Shumona Goel and Ashish Avikunthak and the abstractness of Panchal Mansaram, we bring forth the multitude of conscious makers India has seen (and continues to).

India on film celebrates Indian experiments on film, giving centerstage to a medium, still very much alive in the world. It seeks to highlight the idea of deliberation in the ‘making’ of art in moving images. It seeks to intervene in the art historical trajectory of the form, by bringing the ‘medium’ back into the narrative, making it complete again. 

Apart from curated film screenings and workshops, the project will present a Sewing Machine Installation. The act of working with celluloid film is not very different than any other fine craft. This installation positions the viewer in the shoes of a maker. The participant is positioned on a light table with easy film splicing tools surrounded by found film clips. A paddle on the feet, like the ones on sewing machines is connected to a 16mm projector. As the viewer paddles, the film is projected onto a wall, effectively seeing their own edit come to life.