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A festival of realities

The 18th edition of the Open Frame Film Festival is back with a stellar line-up of documentaries and film discussions

In Shahbad Dairy, on the outskirts of Delhi, a bunch of girls are stuck with the chores of cooking, cleaning and looking after younger siblings. Here toilets are a luxury and they are bound by tradition, social norms, gender and crimes that infest the area — until cricket happens. The game enters their lives giving them hope and wings to fly.

Capturing their story, Yasmin and Fazal Kidwai’s film, A Sticky Wicket, is one among the several documentaries to be screened at the 18th edition of the Open Frame Film Festival. Organised by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) and Doordarshan, it promises an exciting line-up of new films, voices, discussions and workshops.

Dedicated to documentaries, the festival will engage with a variety of topics like the experiences of Adivasis, conversations on death, gender, sexuality and freedom. The objective is to empower filmmakers and to aid the cause of independent documentary-making by initiating an interest in the genre, across spaces and people.

The festival will open with workshops on documentary filmmaking for beginners and mid-career filmmakers. This will be followed by a two-day Documentary Masterclass by four senior filmmakers that will give in insight into how conventional practices of filmmaking have been challenged to create new methods of storytelling. It will also feature a special conversation with prominent filmmakers, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal.

A number of national and international films will also be screened. A package featuring 13 best films from the International Public Service Broadcasters’ Conference, Brooklyn, (2018) will explore controversial and unconventional subjects. These include, Human Smugglers, a film where smugglers who brought millions of migrants to Europe, reveal the secrets of their trade on camera. The special international showcase will screen the Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize and he award-winning movie by Feras Fayyad — Last Men in Aleppo which is a searing experience of daily life, death and struggle on the streets of war torn Syria through the eyes of the White Helmets volunteers.

Apart from these, 27 films of PSBT-Doordarshan films will be screened — most of which are premiering. It features Ajay TG’s Koi Chaand Bhi Nahi that captures the neglect of environmental and human rights in Chhattisgarh, Maheen Mirza’s Agar Who Ek Desh Banatee looks at how rural Adivasi working women from Chhattisgarh envision development as mines and power plants expand around them. Zara Nazar Utha Ke Dekho by Anindya Shankar Das juxtaposes personal narratives of cruising from the LGBTQ community against diverse visuals of Indian public spaces.

“This year we are not following any particular theme. We are going to be looking at stories from all over the world — entailing diversity in terms of content and the form of the films,” says Ridhima Mehra, the festival director. So drop in at the India International Centre between September 10 and 18 to watch some of the best of documentaries from across the world.