Κυρ 08 Οκτ 2023
THE POTENT IMAGE OF YUGANTAR COLLECTIVE
Presenting the Premiere of Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali (1982) and Sudesha (1983) in Greece
BIOS Cinematheque | Pireos 84, Athina 104 35 | Sunday, October 8th 7:00 - 8:00 PM
The screenings will include English subtitles; Q&A following.
Athens Design Forum (ADF) presents the premiere of India-based Yugantar Collective’s filmography in Greece with a double screening of the restored Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali (Tobacco Embers, 1982) and Sudesha (1983). The films extend ADF’s 2023-2024 ANTHROPOS-TOPOS theme, deciphering how humans coexist with places at the proxy of design.
Tobacco Embers and Sudesha are resonant and emotive examples of how film deciphers the contours and shadows of women’s lives, revealing a potent image. Solidifying its position among the canon of ‘factory films,’ Tobacco Embers’ cinematographic emphasis on portals, doors, and gates alludes to the very structure of how systems of exploitation persist. Within both films, architecture, and landscapes of labor become signifiers of extractive, coercive, and penetrative conditions that inform women’s resistance. The films chronicle converging themes of labor practices in environments that span from a tobacco factory in Tobacco Embers to a Himalayan forest in Sudesha. Gendered connotations of labor are heightened and perforated as Yugantar Collective introduces a collaborative process of filmmaking that ensures the voices and actions of the female laborers still resonate today. Since their creation, the films have been screened throughout India in universities and female-led union spaces to harness temporal platforms of critical dialogues.
Tobacco Embers reveals the changing spatial orientations of Indian factories and how women laborers transform these industrial spaces into interiors of both refuge and refute. Porcelain plates and tea cups, byproducts of British colonialism and vestiges of the Indian caste system, infiltrate scenes of activistic rapport. Saris safeguard the protagonists when used as face coverings to exhume the harmful dust of tobacco. Woven basketry and large wooden planks extend the female body, adopting the rhythm of songs that consciously unify the women’s collective acts. The voices of the protagonists beckon a questioning of duty and morale, wherein ritual and alms of protection coexist with the dexterity of the trade. Pivoting from the visual weight of the tobacco industry to the collective gathering of the female workers within and outside their forced confinement proves a film of integrity, one whose perpetual intrigue serves as a catalyst for the power of being seen.
In Sudesha, a female village activist in the Chipko forest conservation movement is portrayed through the role of Sudesha Devi. Devi protests the changing ecology of the forest due to the introduction of imposing timber traders at the foothills of the Himalayas. With trees being used to make items such as tennis rackets, the film is a testimony to the impacts of colonial extraction for supply chains to native populations. As male partners left for work in distant territories, women led central roles in their communities. Viewers witness how the body becomes an integral instrument of labor that fuses the protagonist with the act itself – climbing trees, pounding wheat, sharpening knives, and collecting and carrying animal feed from regional plants. Unexpected uses of natural elements, such as a leaf transforming into a spout on a water spring, speak to the women’s relationship to the land and their quest to retain autonomy over their soil and customs.
For approximately 40 years, the extant four films of the Collective vanished from the public sphere due to the loss of material copies or the condition of the records. In 2009, a journey began to restore, digitize, and recirculate the films that are now presented. ADF wishes to extend special thanks to Deepa Dhanraj, Arsenal, and BIOS Cinematheque for their support in realizing this screening. The films includes English subtitles.
Founded by Abha Bhaiya, Deepa Dhanraj, Meera Rao and Navroze Contractor in 1980, Yugantar made four pioneering films. Working collaboratively with existing or ensuing women’s groups, Yugantar forged novel filmmaking practices and political vocabularies that still resonate today. https://yugantar.film/
For inquiries, please contact Katerina Papanikolopoulos at email@example.com