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Rex VS. Singh

Rex VS. Singh

Canada 20 min

John Greyson, Richard Fung & Ali Kazimi are award-winning Toronto-based filmmakers who came together to make Rex VS. Singh. Greyson’s films include Fig Trees (2003), Proteus (2003), won Best Actor, Sithenghi Film Festival, Lilies (1996), Best Film Genie, Best Film at festivals in Montreal, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, San Francisco. He is an Assistant Professor at York University and won the Bell Canada Video Art Award, 2007. Fung’s films My Mother’s Place (1990), Sea in the Blood (2000) have been screened widely across Canada and the United States. He was awarded the Bell Canada Video Art Award in 2000. He teaches at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Kazimi’s films have received over thirty national and international awards including a Gemini and two Genie nominations. His films include Runaway Grooms (2005), Continuous Journey (2004), Shooting Indians (1998) and Narmada: A Valley Rises (1994).

MONITOR
Seventh Seam

Seventh Seam

India 14 min

Aseem Mishra was born in the mining town of Dhanbad in India, he has traveled extensively to make his films. He is currently the Director of Photography for a Bollywood film entitled, New York.

MONITOR
Purna Virama

Purna Virama

India 11 min

Ujjwal Utkarsh is completing his MFA in Film and Video Communication at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India.

MONITOR
Water Colours

Water Colours

USA/India 4 min 30 s

Natasha Mendonca is a film and video artist. She founded Larzish, the first international film and video film festival on gender and sexuality in Mumbai in 2003. She was a member of the Teddy Jury, Berlin International Film Festival in 2004. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts.

MONITOR
Xin Qui Nie Le!

Xin Qui Nie Le!

USA 4 min

Siddhartha S Joag is an installation artist who has exhibited work in the United States, India, China and the Philippines. He was one of the founding members of the Broader Statements Collective, a community arts space on the China-Burma border.

MONITOR
Water Colours

Water Colours

USA/India 4min 30 s

Natasha Mendonca is a film and video artist. She founded Larzish, the first international film and video film festival on gender and sexuality in Mumbai in 2003. She was a member of the Teddy Jury, Berlin International Film Festival in 2004. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts.

MONITOR
It’s Open

It’s Open

India 17 min

Nilanjan Bhattacharya is a Calcutta-based filmmaker. He received the National Film Award of India in 2005 for his documentary Under the Sun. He is currently working on building an Interpretative Interactive Archive on Calcutta.

MONITOR
Not Being Quite Sure Till Afterwards

Not Being Quite Sure Till Afterwards

Pakistan 4 min 30 s

Unum Babar graduated from Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, in 2007 with a distinction in Fine Art. She works primarily in photography and video installation.

MONITOR
Nur Doner: The Journey of a Doner Kebab in Berlin

Nur Doner: The Journey of a Doner Kebab in Berlin

UK 5 min

Khaldoon Ahmed was born in London in 1976 to Pakistani parents. He has made a number of documentary films since graduating from London Film Academy. He works as a psychiatrist in London and also holds a degree in medical anthropology.

MONITOR

Mundane Catastrophes

2009 80 min

By Mridu Chandra

We are both sculptor and creature of our world. We construct our reality just as we are products of it. We process and consume, we contemplate and react, and we complicate. It is in these processes, in these states of becoming, that we manifest who we are and what we believe in.

With bare hands and simple tools, the young boy in Ujjwal Utkarsh’s Purna Virama conquers danger by getting into the belly of a bus and tearing it down. He takes on first the seats, then the metal siding, the windows, and each nut and bolt until it is finished. The roof envelops him, covers him with dust but he is consistent and determined. The call to prayer outside marks time for the others, but this young boy remains bound to his labor in yet another level of control. Finally, the bus collapses, admitting it is nothing without us.

Khaldoon Ahmed’s Nur Doner: A Day in the Life of a Doner Kebab in Berlin offers a more unsentimental look at civilization. A sheep hangs from a hook dripping blood before it is transformed into a rack of meat dripping with juices that make your mouth water. It is an ode to night street culture in Berlin, and the camera’s eye is distant and cold, revealing the psychological and social landscape we have created for ourselves that allows us to separate ourselves from the objects we consume.

Lahore-based video artist Unum Babar is an enemy of romance, and she rebels against our precious existence on this planet as she records a pair of ordinary scissors mutilating a white flower amidst the sterile hum of a laboratory. The process is quiet and deliberate, breaking an implicit law of nature, creating a harrowing sense of discomfort and loss. The scissors in Not Being Quite Sure Till Afterwards stop just short of complete annihilation, unable to destroy beauty altogether.

It’s Open documents the last days of two dying traditions in the Indian city of Bangalore. Filmmaker Nilanjan Bhattacharya splits the screen and uses humour to unpack questions of survival confronting a tiny wrestling practice ground and a 100-year old cinema. Times have changed, our environment has changed, and both cinema and wrestling practices are giving way to new forms of entertainment and exercise.

Aseem Mishra merges fact with fiction in Seventh Seam to construct a real-life tale of one man’s experience when he was trapped in the seventh seam of a coalmine in Dhanabad, India in 2001. The sole survivor, Ansari is hurled against one damp wall after another as the corpses of his colleagues float by. Reliving moments of his life and pulsing with the energy of constant motion and thought, the imagery oscillates between gloomy detritus to painterly plays of light and form. We experience the psychological landscapes of pain and suffering in one man’s single-handed encounter with the unknown. This is the process of preparing for death, and of searching for truth in the tunnels of the mind.

California-based Natasha Mendonca offers a more nostalgic aftermath of nature’s destruction in Water Colours. She turns the camera on her own trauma after her house was ravaged by the Mumbai floods in 2005. She provides a visual representation of an inner transformation; she creates images through magnified lenses and plays with the scale and reality of private interiors that aim to recreate the artifacts and objects of her memory. It’s a process she has to go through before she can move forward.

Xin Nie Qui Le! presents documentary footage shot during the Chinese New Year in Beijing in the first year after a 12 year ban on fireworks was lifted. Bursting fireworks was banned in Beijing for 12 consecutive Chinese New years from 1994 to 2005, to minimize injuries, fire, air and noise pollution. In 2007, this ban was lifted in all areas of the city. Siddhartha Joag transforms the fireworks into digital objects that, with their reference to the outburst of emotion and political expression, give us an abstracted moving painting and a joyous ode to freedom. The deafening sound of the fireworks and their opaque smoke clouds also evoke related sounds of warfare.

Rex VS. Singh is another subjective interpretation of an actual event, this time in the distant past. In 1915, undercover cops entrapped two Sikh mill-workers and accused them of sodomy. The video stages the ensuing trial four different ways, depicting multiple versions of reality and the process by which two upstanding members of society rid their neighborhood of unwelcome immigrants. It is a process by which they can control their environment, and it reveals how police corruption, racism, homophobia, and a covert whites-only immigration policy conspired to maintain the status quo of the colonial port city of Vancouver. John Greyson, Ali Kazimi, and Richard Fung interrogate the colonial foundations on which Canadian society was built and activate echoes from the past to reveal something aboutCanada today.

These ten artists from five countries in MONITOR 5 author a collective meditation that is heavily steeped in reality, inspired by imagination, and prompted by tradition. Ultimately, they are asking us to look at ourselves.

Curated by Mridu Chandra

Mridu Chandra is a filmmaker, producer, and writer based in New York. She has been creating work in both the documentary and feature film industries for the past decade.



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