media, information, the contemporary

The Wager on Cinema: Screening 9 – Machines

The Sarai Programme invites you to the ninth screening of the film series titled, The Wager on Cinema : Rahul Jain’s Machines

The respondents for this film are Prabhu Mohapatra, Shaunak Sen and Pallavi Paul.

Date: 9 February, 2018
Time: 5:30 PM (Tea will be served at 5:00 PM)
Venue: The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, 29, Rajpur Road, Civil Lines, Delhi – 110054.

About ‘The Wager on Cinema’

How do we estimate the value, aesthetic force, and meaning of cinema today? As media experience, technological change has transformed it beyond recognition, its material forms altered by analog and digital video formats, and the modes of circulating, viewing, accessing cinema and making it have expanded exponentially. And yet, the dream and ambition of cinema as we have known it has not dissipated, the desire to congregate audiences to participate in a distinct world of experience, whether to excite, amuse, to move or to solicit reflection and engagement, to bear witness and to mobilize.

For us at Sarai, the wager on cinema carries high stakes. It means renewing a pact with a bid to explore experience, to take film technique as a vehicle of the unexpected, making connections that take us aback, working out strategies to navigate media’s capacity to deceive – to sting the audience as much as expose secretive acts – through a forensic analytics, through ethical calibration, but also playfully, ironically. For us, such a wager also places emphasis on process, how things are done, how techniques are used, what evidence is presented, what judgments are made, how publics are engaged, framing the cinema as an act of research. In this series, Sarai will screen films to shift focus, to conjure up unusual images and sounds, novel techniques and subject matter, and will organise discussions with practitioners, researchers and an interested public to renew our investment in the cinema, to capture what it means in our times.

Synopsis of Machines (2016/71 mins)

Moving through the corridors and bowels of an enormous and disorientating structure, the camera takes the viewer on a descent down to a dehumanized place of physical labor and intense hardship. This gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India might just as well be the decorum for a 21st century Dante’s Inferno. In his mind-provoking yet intimate portrayal, director Rahul Jain observes the life of the workers, the suffering and the environment they can hardly escape from. With strong visual language, memorable images and carefully selected interviews of the workers themselves, Jain tells a story of inequality, oppression and the huge divide between rich, poor and the perspectives of both.

Rahul Jain is from New Delhi and grew up in Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh among other places. He recently graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Film and Video from the California Institute of the Arts and is presently pursuing a Writing M.A in Aesthetics and Politics. He is interested in distance, otherness and the everyday. Machines is the debut production of Rahul Jain.

Prabhu Mohapatra is faculty at the Department of History, University of Delhi. He works on history of labour and working classes, transnational labour history and long distance labour migration, history of Indian diaspora, economic history of modern India, environmental history.

Shaunak Sen is a film maker, cinema researcher, and video-artist based in New Delhi. His feature-length documentary film ‘Cities of Sleep’ (75 mins, 2016) has shown in over 30 International Festivals and won 6 international awards. He has curated and shown work in various art exhibition contexts in India, Switzerland, Germany and Canada. His academic essays have been published in journals including Bioscope (2013) and Widescreen (2014).

Pallavi Paul’s practice is about speculating the stake of poetry in the contemporary. She primarily works with video and the installation form. Her work has been shown at the AV festival in Newcastle, Contour Biennale, Tate Modern (project space), The Garage Rotterdam, Cinema Zuid, CloseUp Cinema, Open Source Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, Bhaudaji Lad Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, and KHOJ International Artists’ Association among others. Her films have also shown in film festivals like Experimenta, TENT, Mumbai Film Festival, 100 years of Experimentation in Film and Video (organized by Film’s Division). She is also the recipient of several fellowships and residency programmes. She is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU.