Grant Period: over one year and eight months

Since its inception, Katha Centre for Film Studies (KCFS), a unit of Katha, New Delhi, has actively involved young people Mumbai in its activities and film festivals. Besides organising regular screenings at educational and cultural institutions, KCFS has encouraged young minds to think about film critically and carefully, and has created spaces where they can present films to a wider public. As a Nodal Centre for film curatorial practice under the Curatorship Programme, KCFS has conducted a workshop on film curatorial practice and hosted a five-day film festival curated by participants selected from the workshop. The workshop, which was conducted at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, focused on creating an overall conceptual framework around film curatorial practice and investigating the relationship between the curator and the audience. Six participants selected from the workshop developed their curatorial packages with critical feedback that was provided by KCFS staff and resource persons. These packages were showcased at Cinema Satsang, which was held at the Alliance Française de Bombay between February 21 and 25, 2011.

Given the multi-disciplinary nature of curatorial studies and the nascent stage of film curatorial practice in the country, a review of the project highlighted that a three-day workshop did not give adequate time to delve into several critical questions and debates around the practice of curation. Neither was the workshop sufficient to equip participants with the methodological and interpretative tools needed to curate a film festival. This grant is being made to enable KCFS to extend the annual workshop from three to five days, as well as allow them to host a one-day ancillary second workshop for those participants whose curatorial ideas have been selected for the film festival.

The additional two days of the workshop will also allow for a better understanding of context of programming/curating films in India, which is incomplete without an inquiry into the history of the film society movement, state-run festivals, and the parallel trajectory evolved through the discursive practices of individual curators. The next workshop will aim to examine the history of film curatorial practice in India through case studies and through an unpacking of different curatorial styles. It is also hoped that this juxtaposition of different approaches to curation will alert participants to the wider context within which they will function as film curators. The grant will also provide for adequate documentation of the workshop, which is necessary for building discourse around film curatorial practice. Furthermore, the overwhelming response from cinephiles from outside Mumbai, as well as the need to address a pan-Indian context, requires that provisions be made for the accommodation and travel of participants coming from various parts of the country.

Additionally, the feedback received from participants, and a review by the Steering Committee and programme staff, highlighted that while participants had put in considerable effort to finalise their curatorial choices and presentation for the film festival, their curatorial ideas would have benefited considerably from specialised inputs. This grant will therefore enable KCFS to incorporate a rigorous mentorship programme to oversee the conceptualisation of participants’ curatorial ideas and to suggest films and resources to them. Owing to a poor audience turnout on weekday mornings, KCFS has decided to screen the films over consecutive weekends. This would also help provide adequate time to the curators to showcase their curatorial packages.