The Miss Lovely director Ashim Ahluwalia’s next, a 16mm short film, Events In A Cloud Chamber to have its World Premiere at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival.
~Events In A Cloud Chamber is a result of Ashim’s collaboration with the 89 year old legendary Indian artist, Akbar Padamsee to remake the experimental film he had made in 1969, the print of which is now lost~
Ashim Ahluwalia, the director of award-winning, Miss Lovely collaborated with the 89 year old noted Indian artist, Akbar Padamsee and Jhaveri Contemporary to remake the visionary 16mm short film called, Events In A Cloud Chamber.
The 20-minutes short film will have its World Premiere at the 73rd Venice Film Festival in the section, Venice Classic. The festival takes place in Venice from 31st August to 10th September 2016.
In 1969, the Padma Bhushan recipient, Akbar Padamsee, one of the pioneers in Modern Indian painting along with Raza, Souza and M. F. Hussain, made a visionary 16mm film called, Events In A Cloud Chamber. This was one of the only Indian experimental films ever made back in 1969, the print is now lost and no copies exist.
Over 40 years later, filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia worked with Padamsee, now 89 years old, to remake the film.
The 20-minute-short is produced by Ahluwalia’s film company, Future East in association with the art gallery, Jhaveri Contemporary, where the film will be screened in November, 2016.
Ashim Ahluwalia says, “When I met Akbar Padamsee, he was 87 years old. I knew he was one of the pioneers of Indian modernist painting but I had no idea that he had made two forgotten experimental films.”
Talking about how the collaboration happened, Ashim reveals, “Akbar was really keen to collaborate on something cinematic because he knew I was interested in that sort of thing. I really wasn’t sure what we could do together until he just happened to tell me about this second film – Events in a Cloud Chamber.”
“After just a handful of screenings, this film was shipped to an art expo in Delhi in the 70s where it was misplaced. There was no negative and the film is now long lost. This could have been the start of an entirely different kind of cinema in India but I suppose that was never meant to be” he laments.
Talking about the exciting process of bringing a lost film back to life after half a century, he adds, “I wanted him to try and remember this film so that we could both attempt to make it again. He couldn’t completely remember how exactly the film was made, and that was what made the process so fascinating and collaborative for me.” He adds.
“I find this stuff more inspiring, more future-looking than anything going on today in the art or film world. It’s like ghost stories – so many missing links, mysterious artworks, lost films. But I’m not trying to be nostalgic, just trying to look to the past to find inspiration because there were so many directions started and never finished“ he signs off.
In 1969, Akbar Padamsee, one of the pioneers of Modern Indian painting, made a film called Events In A Cloud Chamber. Shot on a 16mm Bolex, the film ran for six minutes and featured a single image of a dreamlike terrain. Inspired by one of Padamsee’s own oil paintings, he experimented with a new technique of superimposing shapes formed with stencils and a carousel projector.
After just a handful of screenings, the film was shipped to an art expo in New Delhi where it was misplaced. The film existed only as a single positive print and there were no copies. This was possibly the birth of experimental film in India, but it ended before it began.
What was this mysterious film? A rare, spectral trace of India’s forgotten avant-garde cinema, Events In A Cloud Chamber now exists only in memory. But can one rebuild a film from memory? More than 40 years later, filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia worked with Padamsee, currently 88 years old, to remake the film. Events In A Cloud Chamber (2016) is a result of their collaboration.
Like a maze that leads into endless other mazes, Events In A Cloud Chamber’s vanishing reads like a fable. More than just the disappearance of an artwork or an aborted attempt at an experimental film movement, it suggests ideas about mortality. As Padamsee, now in his twilight years, looks back, what does he see? Does art stop aging and preclude death? Like extinct languages and deathbed confessions, Events is ultimately a ghost story, meditating on vanished art, mortality and the phantoms that we leave behind.
Ashim Ahluwalia is a filmmaker based in Mumbai, India. His directorial debut, the feature length documentary John & Jane (2006), had a world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and a European premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. His first narrative feature, Miss Lovely, which premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, followed this. Ahluwalia works across mediums and formats, often blurring the lines between documentary and fiction. His work has shown at the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou and at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Ahluwalia was named “one of the ten best emerging film directors working today” by Phaidon Press in “Take 100: The Future of Film.”
Akbar Padamsee (born 12 April 1928) is a contemporary Indian artist and painter, considered one of the pioneers in Modern Indian painting along with Raza, Souza and M.F. Hussain. He was still studying fine art at the Sir J. J. School of Art, when the Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) was formed in 1947 by Francis Newton Souza, S. H. Raza, and M. F. Husain. The group was to have a lasting impact on Indian art. Over the years, Padamsee has explored various mediums such as oil painting, plastic emulsion, watercolor, sculpture, printmaking and computer graphics. He has worked as filmmaker, sculptor, photographer, engraver and lithographer. Today his paintings are among the most valued by modern Indian artists. His painting, Reclining Nude was sold for USD 1,426,500 at Sotheby’s in New York on 25 March 2011. Padamsee also created possibly the single most important experimental film in India, Syzygy, as well as a lost 16mm film work – Events In A Cloud Chamber. He has been awarded the Lalit Kala Akademi Fellowship by the Lalit Kala Akademi, India’s National Academy of Arts, in 1962, the Kalidas Samman from the Madhya Pradesh Government in 1997, the Padma Shree in 2009 and the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honor in 2010.
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