SESSION FIVE: RUCHIR JOSHI/ELEVEN MILES

Saturday 28 March, 20:00-23:00, ICA 

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UK premiere of restored classic Indian essay film

Film: Eleven Miles (Egaro Mile), Ruchir Joshi, India, 1991, DCP, English and Bengali with English subtitles, 160 minutes, UK premiere

The screening will be introduced by the filmmaker Ruchir Joshi.

With the support of CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership, Goethe-Institut London, and Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art (Berlin).

Ruchir Joshi’s Eleven Miles, here presented in a newly restored version, is a classic example of the essay form as not just a way of thinking about or representing the world, but as a mode of existence in which life and art become one, in the same creative gesture. Part-journal, part-road movie, part-anthropological investigation, the film is a self-reflexive account of Joshi’s persistent attempts to make a study of a group of Bauls (Bengal’s traditional wandering musicians), whose artistic practice mixes life and performance, spirituality and the mundane, social comment and desire, eternity and the modern, in ways that make them resistant, elusive and endlessly fascinating subjects for Joshi’s camera-eye.Eleven Miles took three years to make, according to the artist, although it was originally intended to be a relatively straightforward documentary short, recording the preparation and performance of a group of Baul performers in concert. ‘There was no way to airbrush away our presence (Joshi later wrote) and how that changed the situations we went to shoot; the form of the film arrived at a first-person diary recounting all our confusions and missteps, all the absurdity and conflict that the filming both witnessed and created. The subjectivity embedded in the final film didn’t come about by intellectual/cerebral planning but neither was it an accident – it was something that grew from repeated, stumbling but conscious efforts at an honest engagement with a group of people living in a very different reality from ours; a group that was nevertheless very conscious of audio-visual technology and the world beyond Bengal in which the products of the technology found play.’

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