Textually Yours

and another film festival

Posted in Film, Independent Filmmaking, phillum, san francisco by arpitaincuba on October 21, 2009

.holding it together. will be screening at the 3rd i film festival in November in San Francisco.


another festival!

Posted in Film, Independent Filmmaking, phillum, Uncategorized by arpitaincuba on September 10, 2009

.holding it together. will be screened at the chashma film festival in NYC.

more later.

Of poetry and performances

Posted in admiration, fartsy, Film, Hampshire College, Literature, phillum, poetry, san francisco, Uncategorized by arpitaincuba on July 26, 2009

Yesterday, I attended the San Francisco International Poetry Festival at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and was transported back in time to Amherst, MA where I had first experienced that undiluted pleasure of poetry in performance. I had thought I had moved away from poetry because I had stopped performing it infront of an audience but yesterday watching the poet Ziba Karbassi helped me realize how I had used performed poetry in every film that I have made  and it was the throw of the voice and the poignancy of the words that created the magic for my images. What a serendipitous moment for an artist! I realized how I make films for poetry–so that text as a visual element and poetry as performance consummate on screen to create the magic of cinema!

I am going to CalArts this fall to creat many more  such films but I will talk about that later.

I want to use this post to introduce to you three poets that moved me greatly last night.

First was Ziba Karbassi.

Ziba Karbassi at the Iranian Literary Arts Festival

Ziba Karbassi at the Iranian Literary Arts Festival

Her poem,Love is lemony, was performed by her in farsi. The eroticism of the poem manifested itself through the spoken short sudden words that mimiced the breathlessness of lovemaking and the languidness of her voice that reminded one of gentle yet all encompassing love.

Here is a youtube link of a translator reading her poem


Film Screening

Posted in Film, Independent Filmmaking, phillum, san francisco, women by arpitaincuba on May 15, 2009

womanbellyLast night my film screened at the Bay Area Women in Film and Media Film Festival in San Francisco.

Lunafest also contacted to and inquired if they can screen .holding it together. in their film festival.

The ball has started rolling!

How queer!

Posted in India, phillum by arpitaincuba on January 26, 2009

Dostana premiered on Thursday. It was a marketing tactic that would enable the verdict to travel “word-of-mouth.” And it was successful. The film was a “blockbuster hit,” and people would not stop talking about it.

I enjoyed it. It was a slap stick comedy with sometimes witty come backs, and ridiculous parodies of other Indian films. However, what I was fascinated by was this “word-of-mouth.” Here was a mainstream film, with the top-notch industry heros,  who were PRETENDING to be gay. As a consequence, the film had several annoying homophobic moments. But it did something else. It brought queerness out into the open. Middle class India was now talking about alternate sexualites.

My mother, on the phone from India, could not believe how many conversations she had about queerness, and homophobia since the release of this film. Yes, the conversations are more about how Abhishek Bachchan was hilarious in the film, but there was  also a discussion about alternative sexualites. Conversations about queer sexualities in the public domain is BIG. I say it is big because growing up in middle class India, in a city like Lucknow, I had no conversations about queerness till I was in my mid teens. We don’t talk about such issues. But now we are! What a BIG small step.

Amulya Gopalakrishnan, writing for The Indian Express, words this perfectly:

And the most enormous change is that Dostana names the unsaid, replaces ambiguities and evasions with the power of public utterance — it confronts wide and various audiences with ostensibly gay characters. And who knows, perhaps laughter and cheesy uplift can subtly wedge the door open in ways that a serious, p.c., full frontal take in non-mainstream movies like My Brother Nikhil may not manage. Dostana might not be the great leap forward for gay mainstreaming, but perhaps, picture abhi baaki hai.

it will not end

Posted in India, phillum by arpitaincuba on January 26, 2009

The talk about Slumdog Millionaire.

This weekend I had another heated argument about this film. My friend was outraged that Danny Boyle was making a profit off of the slums of India. He is not the first one. It is a shame really.

Third world poverty is fetished by the media, and Danny Boyle is doing the same.

The film is clearly made for a Western audience to consume this fetished poverty. As a South Asian person, it was a little annoying to watch the film with its major flaws because it became apparent very soon that the film was made for people not from South Asia. Even though it was about them.

Why this hulla shor?

Posted in phillum by arpitaincuba on January 19, 2009

slumdog4604I saw Slumdog Millionaire two months ago, and found it average.

This exponential growth of the hype around the film, I find ridiculous.

Ten nominations for the Oscars is a little undeserved. Sure, A.R. Rehman is brilliant, and the cinematography was sophisticated. But other than that the film did not work for me.

Here is why:

A whole range of desi and videshi accents of Jamal
At the onset, the ” poop diving five year old Jamal has a “road-side” demeanor and a very “ghati” accent. No doubt the kid is from the slums. As time progresses, another child actor from a upper-middle class background, and an English medium education starts to portray Jamal. He delivers his dialogue with that “sing-song convent school” English and his body language indicates a certain degree of refinement. And then there is Dev Patel. Dev is from London. Jamal is suppose to be from the slums. So why does the slum dog develop a clipped Brit accent, and is unable to pronounce simple Hindi words properly?

Such inconsistency cannot be ignored!

The two very distinct parts of the film–one kickass, and the other vomit inducing.

I watched the first part of this film riveted. It was fast-paced, poignant, real, and engaging. However, all this came undone in the second part. The corny Latika love story, the dance sequence, and some strange belief in fate made me feel like I was watching a different film. From a detailed, and intense focus on the struggles of a slum child, it deteriorated to a formulaic masala film. The clichés of love and yearning were unbearable, the dance sequence unnecessary, and the whole reference to Godfather with the brother in the bathtub was bizarre.


M.I.A’s music felt disconnected with the urban-scape of India. It has an edginess no doubt but would be more suited to a film that is about the Diaspora rather than the desh.

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