Film Archive

International Programme 2016
Cities of Sleep Shaunak Sen

Sleepless in Delhi: the never-ending search for a place to rest under bridges and in shelters that are marketed for high prices, mafia-style. A science fiction-like dystopia in feverish images.

Cities of Sleep

Documentary Film
India
2015
74 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Virender Kundu
Shaunak Sen
Ritwik De
Salim Khan, Shaunak Sen
Sreya Chatterjee, Shaunak Sen
Aman Mann, Sahil Dhingra
No charter in the world lists sleep as a human right. Least of all in Delhi, a city where it’s a precious commodity and insomnia the fate of those who can’t afford a shelter for the night. This is about survival pure and simple, for the darkness brings the mosquitoes that carry the deadly dengue fever. “Cities of Sleep” is about the restless search for a place to sleep, be it under a car, a bridge or in barracks that are crowded and unsafe. Night after night. Sleeping well has its price.

The film’s rhythm adopts the fretful delirium of the sleepless who are called “djinns” because they haunt the streets like ghosts. The camera follows them on their endless walks attended by humiliations they have to endure. The images radiate a feverish, nervous quality. People huddle everywhere; the smallest niche is used for shelter, lights flicker, bustling activity everywhere. There is no orientation; everything merges in an inferno of noise and dirt. It would seem almost like a science fiction film if this dystopia hadn’t long ago become part of contemporary life.

Cornelia Klauß

Daughter’s Mother

Documentary Film
Hungary,
India
2018
26 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

DocNomads European Masters, NoCut Film Collective
Arya Rothe
Arya Rothe
Arya Rothe
Arya Rothe
Isabella Rinaldi, Rudolf Várhegyi, Péter Attila
Ica is still in her prime, but fading. The 65-year-old lady, witty and with a dry sense of humour, increasingly stumbles over memory gaps, though the city offers her a safe banister through daily life. Her daughter Judit patiently tries to fit Ica’s care into her working life and village idyll. Via stops at a dice game, a furniture store and the “Café Alzheimer” she looks for a shared home suited to the different needs of two closely linked women.

André Eckardt
International Programme 2015
Floating Life Haobam Paban Kumar

The fishermen of Lake Loktak in India have always lived on floating islands. Until the government ordered their evacuation … A moving document of desperate resistance.

Floating Life

Documentary Film
India
2014
54 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Films Division
Haobam Paban Kumar
Sankha
Lake Loktak is the biggest freshwater lake in northeast India and unique because of its floating reed islands. For centuries, fishermen have used the floating biomass as building ground for their huts. But this ended in 2011, when the government decided to resettle the approximately 4,000 people living on the lake on the grounds that the fishermen were responsible for the increasing ecological pollution of Lake Loktak. During a first evacuation operation that year the police burned down 300 huts. Many of the people who subsequently left returned because they had no alternative.

About three years later, Haobam Paban Kumar started to follow the events on the lake in his film which won a number of awards in India. He shows a sure grasp of the fears and needs of the people as he starts by observing their busy lives. The events of 2011 are present everywhere, as is the island dwellers’ determination not to be driven out again – because the state is once more getting ready to drive away a traditional lifestyle for alleged higher interests. The film depicts the evacuation of the settlement in touching scenes. The fishermen and their families defend themselves with the power of desperation. Where they win the police withdraw – for the moment. Where the huts are burned down they rebuild them.

Matthias Heeder

Machines

Documentary Film
Finland,
Germany,
India
2016
71 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Rahul Jain, Thanassis Karathanos, Iikka Vehkalahti
Rahul Jain
Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva
Rahul Jain, Yaël Bitton
Susmit Nath, Adrian Baumeister
The camera movements are ghostlike because it is a disembodied presence floating through the factory. But what it captures is surreal: infernal fires and reams of fabric falling like water. It’s noisy, it’s dark, but on the back of this image-hungry creature we move quickly through the rooms. It’s not clear what it is looking for. Sometimes it will hide, crouching in a corner, lurking for the workers who don’t seem to notice. There’s humidity everywhere, liquids, tinctures and sweat. And the sound of turning rollers. A textile factory in the Indian state of Gujarat, which nobody visits unless absolutely forced to. Still, there are jobs here, albeit badly paid, and no trace of union structures. “The state of Gujarat has fed the stomachs of the poor,” somebody says in the film.

Carolin Weidner


Nominated for Healthy Workplaces Film Award

That Elephant From the Bridge

Documentary Film
India
2013
26 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

D. J. Narain
Abhilash Vijayan
Sahil Bhardwaj
Abhilash Vijayan
Abhilash Vijayan
Roopak Kalyani
A metal rod stuck in the ground is treated with an oversized hammer. An old man washes his feet. A short-statured artist stabilises his rusty bedstead with a few stones. Over here someone takes a curious look out of the window, over there a little discussion whether the man with the muscles is wearing his shirt inside out or not is going on. Posts are erected, ropes tightened. And at last the big tent rises from the ground. The people turn into clowns and artists.
This film portrays the arrival of an Indian travelling circus in a new town in impressionistic and sensual images. The focus is not on the magic of the performance, though, but on the things that go on around it, the handiwork, the community of very different personalities living under the same roof. This doesn’t destroy the aura of the circus. On the contrary, its mystery is preserved in the fragments. And the collage erects a big top of moods.

Lars Meyer
International Programme 2017
The Fish Curry Abhishek Verma

All fish eyes are on Lalit Ghosh. The gay young man is facing his coming out. On this nerve-racking occasion he cooks his father’s favourite dish for him.

The Fish Curry

Animated Film
India
2017
12 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Abhishek Verma, Jamuura.com
Abhishek Verma
The 126ers
Antariksh
Abhishek Verma
Abhishek Verma, Jayesh Bhosale
Shantanu Yennemadi
All fish eyes are on Lalit Ghosh. The gay young man is facing his coming out. On this nerve-racking occasion he cooks his father’s favourite dish for him, a traditional fish curry. A radio cooking show says about this Bengal dish, called “Maacher Jhol”, that it is good for the heart and the brain. A good omen at least.

Esther Buss
International Programme 2013
The Textures of Loss Pankaj Butalia

The surviving dependants of the fathers and sons of Kashmir who were killed in the war. The mosaic of a collective nightmare, the emotional trauma of a region in permanent unrest.

The Textures of Loss

Documentary Film
India
2013
61 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Pankaj Butalia
Pankaj Butalia
Arjun Sen, Mohd. Yakub
Ranjan Palit, Pankaj Butalia
Pankaj Butalia
Pankaj Butalia
There is a whole generation today who knows nothing but war in Kashmir, which for the past two decades has been a permanent trouble spot between Pakistan and India. In view of the omnipresence of the military, the smallest spark is enough to set off this powder keg. Almost every family has suffered a loss. The bodies of the fathers and sons are brought home. How to deal with the loss; who takes care of the relatives?
The director’s journey to the various provinces resembles a journey into the wounded soul of a region that can find no rest. How do pain, grief, and fear etch themselves into the individual’s psyche? There are no authorities, no therapists, only the gods and the surviving family who move closer together in their corrugated iron shacks. Depression and sleep disorders are common. A boy can’t bear to see the colour red, so he paints green blood. Director Pankaj Butalia composes the mosaic of a collective nightmare from many interviews and sparingly inserted archive footage of fighting in the streets. With his previous film “Manipur Song”, which was also screened at DOK Leipzig, and his next project, “Assamblog”, “The Texture of Loss” forms a trilogy of the bereaved.

Cornelia Klauß
International Programme 2012
When Hari Got Married Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam

It’s okay when you’ve never seen your bride before the wedding. But what will she be like? Forced marriage in India as a comedy with a touch of Bollywood, featuring an enchanting hero.

When Hari Got Married

Documentary Film
India,
Norway,
UK,
USA
2012
75 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ritu Sarin, White Crane Films
Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam
Arjun Sen
Tenzing Sonam
Tenzing Sonam
Tenzing Sonam
Saying “I love you” on the phone presupposes a personal history. But Hari has never met his future bride Suman, with whom he exchanges these tender words daily over the phone while driving his taxi over the bumpy streets of his Indian hometown at the foot of the Himalaya Mountains. It’s an arranged wedding, its history the thousand-year-old tradition behind it. Hari’s father won’t rest until his youngest son, who is already 30 after all, is finally married. He invests all his money in this project, for one thing is certain: the wedding will be colourful and expensive.
Who wants to make their father unhappy? And yet Hari has found a way to soften the tradition a bit: his mobile phone. “When you talk on the phone every day you would even fall in love with a stone”, he says in his inimitable and practical way. The usually cheerful young man’s straightforwardness is a constant surprise. And yet the closer the wedding approaches the more thoughtful and withdrawn the young man seems to be. Because he knows that Suman is not a stone and there’s a real concern that she won’t be able to handle the separation from her family. This unusual love must still pass its acid test – at the end of a long ceremony on which the bridal couple have the least influence. The story of this traditional wedding comes alive with its small signs of cautious modernisation to which Hari makes his modest contribution.
– Lars Meyer