Monday, December 15, 2014

Visible Evidence [21]

Visible Evidence is an annual scholarly conference on documentary film, media, culture and politics--interdisciplinary, international and indispensable. Inaugurated at Duke University in 1994, Visible Evidence has met annually ever since--in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Australia, and most recently in Sweden, as well as in the US (eleven times).

In its 21st year, this year, the conference was held in New Delhi, India from December 11 to 14 2014. Co-hosted by Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia, the conference was at the India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi.

It was the first time the event was held in Asia, and and for the second time only in the global south. Visible Evidence 21, as is traditional, featured a range of panels, workshops, plenary sessions, screenings and special events around documentary, its practices, histories and theories.

This was not even on my radar. And, then I ended up attending the event, thanks to a friend who was in the know, and thanks to other friends, who were in some panel or another.

There was R Raj Rao of the University of Pune, my former teacher. He was there to be part of a panel discussion on Section 377 of the IPC: “Where we are coming from, where are we going?”

The panel was attended by, among other people, Nancy Nicol, Anjali Gopalan of Naaz Foundation, Thomas Waugh, Andy Silveira, Shridhar Rangayan, Aahona Roy, R Raj Rao and Anurupa Prakash, all friends.

The highlight of the conference was the screening of Joshua Oppenheimer’s companion piece to his critically acclaimed documentary ‘The Act of Killing’, ‘The Look of Silence’. It was a heart-wrenching journey, but I liked the film more than ‘The Act of Killing’, which I found to be consciously bizarre.

The last panel discussion of the conference was also very illuminating, which was attended by documentary filmmakers from the region, including the great Anand Patwardhan.

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