It’s great to be back at GemArts Masala Festival after an absence of 2 years! The world feels rather different from the summer of 2019. Thinking back, it feels like a former world and way of living. Like there was an innocence back then, but we know otherwise… Before, we were familiar with the rhythm and then Covid! Everything stopped, we shut down, had time to think, adapted, carried on, started new things, got bored, tired, lonely, lost people, loved people and then we remerged. And now we have some sort of new normal. Personally, I’m emotionally exhausted. After a few years of care, I lost my dad. As hard as these things are, in the end it was beautiful and even mystical. It wasn’t easy, but it was a privilege to witness. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience. And now, the exhaustion is lifting, as we pick ourselves up and carry on. Each year Masala festival continues to go from strength-to-strength. Let’s see what this year brings…
MOMENTUM is a programme of films celebrating who we are: from our innate nature to the values and beliefs which shape and make us; and the rituals we re-enact to express and participate in a culture and to belong to a community. Major themes include personal identity and agency; spiritual outlook and tradition.
When I first saw The Misfits by Varun Chopra I was left feeling incredibly good to be alive. I was struck by the Mumbaiker energy – the spirit the of 4 outsiders, who had learnt to live on their own terms. This short film covers race, gender, colourism, and non-conforming. Produced by The Corner Shop. Varun Chopra is an India/US based writer-director and a Sundance Institute Ignite Fellow.
Devi is a beautiful narrative short by award-winning Indian filmmaker Karishma Dube, now based in New York. I found myself leaning forwards more and more as this film progressed, such is the dramatic tension created.
In this documentary short we meet three distinct South Asian female artists: poet Vidhu Sharma, dancer Priyanka Chauhan and visual artist Jasmin Sehra. Each navigate aspects of their heritage with their artistic expression, resulting in something new which speaks of today.
By the River is an award- winning documentary by Norwegian-Brazilian director Dan Braga Ulvestad. It features devout Hindus timing their deaths or waiting to die in Varanasi, as they believe they will acquire moksha (freedom from rebirth). This is a beautifully shot film with a transcendental music score by Dustin Lau and sound design by Rubin Henkel & Nylon Studios. Produced by Charu Menon.
An old battered 70s postcard was the catalyst for Tigerman for director Lisa Gunning whilst on holiday in Kerala. Filmed during Onam (harvest festival) the Tigerman (Pulikali) festival is a 200-year-old tradition evoking the power and magnetism of the tiger through body paint, masks and dance. Featuring a stunning title track by Alison Goldfrapp.
Is a tender story set in Lahore’s (Pakistan) female dancing clubs. Trans Pakistani actor Alina Khan plays Alina Darling with aspirations to become a professional performer. Abdullah Malik plays her devoted friend in love with her.
The films will be followed by a 30-minute post-screen discussion with filmmakers and associates facilitated by me, Bobby Tiwana.