A film festival that extends offscreen
Lost urban locales
The sprawling Mumbai metropolis is made up of innumerable localities. List them one by one, and chances are that you and your friends would end up with a set of similar names. Our daily interactions, be it for work or leisure, often take us along similar paths. Other areas are perceived to be margins of the city, even though some of them may even be centrally located.
Life and experiences abound in these overlooked areas. Yet, there is hardly any mention of it in mass media or popular culture. A brief transitory glimpse offered, if at all, is usually mediated via external agencies, resulting in stereotyped representations at best.
The ‘urban’ in films
When we consider artistic representations of the city too (and let’s take the example of mainstream cinema here because of its broad reach) this one-sided view is quite evident again. Certain urban neighbourhoods are always in focus. Moreover, those at the centre of the experience depicted, especially if they are from marginalised communities, are often not a part of the filming process as such. Creative and artistic license take us further away from on-ground perspectives and often we are left with a homogenous view of reality. Film festivals remain elite gatherings as well, attracting a particular kind of audience with discussions on limited spheres.
Presenting multiple urban realities
It’s worth thinking about how other urban realities can receive attention too, as they together form the collective urban experience. To realise this, YUVA took on an interesting initiative. Here’s what it was all about.
We organised a community-led film festival from 24–26 March across community sites in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, culminating in a grand finale at the Centre for Education and Documentation (CED) on 27 March in partnership with CED and Blue Ribbon.
The films selected for screening on the first three days focused on themes the community are familiar with and would find relatable. Given the recent spate of evictions in Navi Mumbai and the travails of informal workers who migrate to this city in large numbers, we selected Like Dust We Rise for screening here. The rehabilitation and resettlement colony of Lallubhai Compound in Mankhurd is a site grappling with multiple complexities such as eve-teasing, drug abuse, etc. The film screened here Under the Open Sky (Khule Aasmaan Ke Neeche) focused on how girls of Mumbra have been able to claim spaces through football training. The basti of Ambujwadi in Malad is rife with housing issues and problems in accessing basic services. As the youth form an important segment of the community, the film presented here was Making Mumbai, YUVA’s annual celebration where 400 youth came together to discuss their local challenges.
This film festival, Living Mumbai, was open to all. It aimed to introduce people of and outside communities to the many realities of the city, and help them critically engage on the many facets of the urban. We aimed to encourage discussions within the community post film screenings on the urban, once the people got a chance to discuss their lived urban realities and place it in context of representation in films. Wondering how the people responded to the film festival? Our next blog post tells all.
The film festival is just one of the events YUVA organised during ComplexCity (23–28 March) to promote dialogue on ‘the urban’ and help YUVA work towards its ‘cities for all’ objective. To know more about the ideas driving ComplexCity, visit www.yuvaindia.org/events.