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The Keynote Address at Persistence Resistance 2010

May 1, 2010 Leave a comment

We bring to you the keynote address delivered by the well known columnist and author,  Ms. Sevanti Ninan, at the inaugural ceremony of  Persistence Resistance 2010: A festival of contemporary films.

Creating spaces;

It may seem odd to you as it does to me that a media watch website should be asked to deliver the keynote for a festival of documentary films. But I guess what is common between the emergence of The Hoot some nine years ago, and the emergence of the Persistence Resistance festival in 2008 is the notion of creating a space. Space for something that may not have a commercial logic, and which neither the media industry nor the film industry may make room for in the normal course of things. But something that civil society nevertheless needs to institutionalize for its own sake.

In the media in India in the last two decades we have seen both the opening and closing of spaces. We have discovered that you can have enormous growth, unhindered by the state, and yet lose the diversity you had earlier. There is possibly more sameness now in television entertainment than there was when Doordarshan was the only channel. And also that many more TV channels do not necessarily mean more room for programme experimentation. The channels may be there, but their definition of entertainment may rule out documentary films altogether, even as film channels on television multiply.

I discovered only very recently that the media industry uses the term real estate to denote the space available on channels for programmes. If you have two 24 hr Hindi entertainment channels you have twice the real estate of a TV company that has only one. Why is it real estate? Because it is an electronic space whose commercial potential can be maximized by the kind of programming you do on it. And that is where your highly paid TV channel creative heads come in.

Yet civil society media initiatives if you can call them that, have also blossomed over the same two decades that real estate on TV has grown by many multiples in many languages.

The public service broadcasting trust was created here in Delhi and even if it has had to contend with the vagaries of Doordarshan’s telecast schedules it was a body that could commission film makers to make the kind of films they wanted to. Its next step was to have a festival to show those films. And in recent years many small film festivals have come into existence all creating space for showing films that may not get censor certificates or be able to get commercial releases. Persistence Resistance is one of them. Even more than the film festival the civil society initiative that the Magic Lantern Foundation has taken in becoming a distributor for documentary film makers is part of the process of creating space for what commercial media might not find saleable. It is a space made possible largely by donor funding.

The Internet has created valuable space for film makers too on YouTube and on the site called Witness which hosts videos on human rights violations.

A whole new level of media space is also emerging with the very fledgling community radio movement. It is highly regulated today—the process fraught with needing clearances from many ministries, but for the men and women who live within the radius of these stations a whole new space for expression is opening up and the day will doubtless come when they will push to expand the limits the government has given them. Which is that you cannot have news bulletins on your very local radio station.

The Hoot was set up nine years ago primarily to create the space for media critiques, something that there was no room for in the daily, independent media. The more freewheeling newspapers and TV channels became, the more you needed a watchdog. The Press Council had no teeth, journalists were having a jolly good time in many ways and had no interest in policing themselves, so we had to turn to the web to create the space for writing about the media.

But today there are emerging concerns which go beyond monitoring journalistic performance or ethics. There are tracts of the country where journalists cannot go in to report because the security forces and the naxals keep them out. So you don’t know what is happening to the populations which live there. In some states like West Bengal there is an emerging political culture which drives out journalists from press conferences held by political parties. Why? Because individual journalists are increasingly seen as partisan, and political party workers have become more intolerant.

There are more and more instances every month of censorship by the mob, which is what drove M F Hussain to become the citizen of another country. So in about two weeks from now the Hoot will be unveiling a free speech hub in cyberspace where it hopes free speech violations of every kind in all parts of the country will be flagged. There will be a calendar, and so far we have recorded 9 incidents in the month of January alone.

These range from police detaining journalists and a film maker in Dantewada, snatching their cameras and erasing their footage, the Bombay High court upholding a ban on a book which was imposed by the Maharashtra government, an ULFA diktat to journalists in Guwahati, an attack on a writer in Kerala by political activists, forced deletion of scenes from a Marathi film, the My Name is Khan incident and so on.

To be viligant about freedoms that are constantly under assault, once again, one needs to create an activist space.

1 day to go! Persistence Resistance @ Hyderabad!!

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

The Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communications, University of Hyderabad in collaboration with Magic Lantern Foundation is hosting the Persistence Resistance @ Hyderabad, a festival of contemprary political films, as part of the SN School of Arts & Communication’s inaugural cultural festival. The cultural festival is being organised between 13 to 19 March at the SN School premises, while the Persistence Resistance festival is slated for 16 and 17 March. More details on the cultural festival is available on the SN School website. Filmmakers Paromita Vohra, Gargi Sen, Kavita Joshi, and Sourav Sarangi will be attending the festival and interacting with the audience.

Dates: 16 and 17 March 2010
Venue: SN School of Arts & Communications

Festival Schedule

Nostalgia: Images from PR @ NID!!

March 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Presenting a few pictures of an ensemble gathering at the festival, Persistence Resistance @ NID, held from 30-31st January 2010 held at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.

Arun Gupta with students at the festival.

Arun Gupta, Kavita Joshi, Gargi Sen and Ujjwal in conversation

Shashi Ghosh Gupta, Kavita Joshi and Supriyo Sen in conversation.

Kavita Joshi and Gargi Sen, in an intense discussion with the students.

Supriyo Sen with students at the National Institute of Design

Ranjan De at the festival, Persistence Resistance @ NID

The happy trio: Supriyo Sen, Gargi Sen, Kavita Joshi

Persistence Resistance at Hyderabad

March 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Persistence Resistance is travelling to Hyderabad this month. The Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communications, University of Hyderabad is hosting the festival in collaboration with Magic Lantern Foundation.

Dates: 16 and 17 March 2010

Venue: SN School of Arts & Communications

For the schedule of the festival, log on to:

http://magiclanternfoundation.org/Events/pr_hyd2010.html

Date: 16th March 2010

  • @ C. V. Raman Auditorium, Science Complex
  • Tales From the Margins
  • Manipur Song
  • Arzoo
  • Bishar Blues
  • Word Within the Word
  • The Advocate

  • @ Seminar Hall, Social Sciences
  • Roshan Bayan
  • Death Life Etc.
  • Mahua Memoirs

Date : 17th March 2010

  • @ C. V. Raman Auditorium, Science Complex
  • Bilal
  • I’m the very beautiful
  • Rewind
  • Setu
  • Morality TV and the Loving Jehad
  • Every Good Marriage Begins With Tears
  • ML 05 B 6055
  • @ Seminar Hall, Social Sciences
  • My village is Theatre, My name is Habib
  • Goddesses
  • Milind Soman Made Me Gay
  • Hope Dies Last in War

Day 3 at Persistence Resistance 2010

February 27, 2010 Leave a comment


Members of the audience decide what to watch!

A still from one of the FTII Films that were screened at Auditorium 1

Screening of Made in India at Auditorium 2

S. Anand, Ashish Pandya and Kesang Tseten

Rada Sesic, John and Supriyo Sen

Ruchika Negi, Amit Mahanti, Supriyo Sen and Ranjan De

Manjira Datta in conversation.

Shankhajeet De in conversation with Nilotpal Majumdar

A still from the film: Sarpat



Ira Bhaskar and Supriyo Sen: in Auditorium 2

S. Anand, Ruchika Negi and Krishnendu Bose in a Q & A with the audience.

Audience outside Auditorium 1

Avijit Mukul Kishore in conversation with Shankhajeet De, as the audience looks on.

Supriyo, Gargi Sen, Wakai Makiko and Ashish Pandya with his wife.

Arun Gupta in conversation with friends.

Viewing a film at the video parlour.

Disconnect: An installation by Frameworks at the Gandhi King Plaza.

Members of the audience viewing films on installation.

Vijaya Mulay (Akka), signs as copy of her book: ‘From Rajahs and Yogis to Gandhi and Beyond’

Installation 2: Dialogue Remains: by Ranu Ghosh

The audience enjoys the installation: Dialogue Remains

Installation 3: Short Films, a still from the film ‘Erased’

Night screening of the film: Wagah! by Supriyo Sen

Audience at the night screening of Wagah!

Audience at the night screening of the film: Sound of Tibet! by Kim Joon Nyeon

Day 2 at Persistence Resistance 2010!

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Schedule for the festival: Persistence Resistance 2010


Registration outside Auditorium 1

A film still from one of the NID student films.

Audience outside Auditorium 1

The audience, eagerly awaiting the starting of the film.

Veena Hariharan in conversation with Bishakha Datta

The audience looks on.

Manjira Datta, Shankhajeet De and Avijit Mukul Kishore in conversation.

Saba Dewan(L) and Sabeena Gadhioke in conversation.

Q and A round with filmmakers Kavita Joshi and Manjira Datta, while Gargi Sen moderates the discussion.

One of the members of the audience poses a question at Kavita Joshi.

Dialogue remains, an installation by Ranu Ghosh.

Disconnect: an installation by Frameworks collective at the Gandhi King Plaza.

Bus Book: A part of the installation set up by the Frameworks team.

Viewing a film at the Gandhi King Plaza.


Day 1 at Persistence Resistance 2010

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Entrance to the India International Centre

Registration desk for Persistence Resistance 2010


Entrance to the Gandhi King Plaza, where one can see films under the Retrosepective Section, in video parlours, watch a film from the library or view the installation titled ‘Disconnect’ by Frameworks.

Samina Mishra in conversation with Kesang Tseten.

At the Gandhi King Plaza; Retrsopectives of Deepa Dhanraj, Manjira Datta, Saba Dewan, Sanjay Barnela, Krishnendu Bose, Supriyo Sen in parlours, and a video library.

Inside the viewing room! Choose your film and watch!

The audience, in conversation with filmmaker Sandhir Flora, after the screening of his film: Kya Main Qafir Hoon?