Urban Lens 2020

Online Film Festival

1 – 6 December 2020

The Urban Lens Film Festival is a one-of-a-kind international film festival that brings together filmmakers, academics and urban practitioners to dialogue with each other on cinema and the urban experience. Curated by the IIHS Media Lab, the festival has presented 174 films from various genres from 35 countries in 30 languages.

The seventh edition of the festival will be hosted online from 1 – 6 December 2020, in association with the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan and the Danish Cultural Institute. Going online has expanded the possibilities of what the festival can offer and has created the opportunity for conversation and exchange of ideas across cities and countries bringing a richer discourse to the audience.

The festival will feature a special package of films called ‘Works of Art are Landscapes of the Mind‘ curated by eminent filmmaker, editor and curator Bina Paul and will screen films from across the globe spanning India, Brazil, Cambodia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Lebanon, Poland, Portugal, Senegal and the United Kingdom.

The festival will host two Masterclasses. One, with Anjali Menon, is on her practice as a director in and from south India and the role of collectives in creating equal spaces for women in the industry. The one with Dibakar Banerjee is about what his work has meant for the cinematic landscape in India, and how it has played a pivotal role in recreating a form of cinematic urbanism. 

Since 2016, the Urban Lens Film festival has presented a series titled ‘On Practice‘ with film practitioners whose contribution comes together in the many layers that shape films. This year, the festival will host two panel discussions – one on reflections by cinematographers, of being women who work in a largely male-dominated field and one on the many cinemas of the north-east of India.

As always, the festival remains free.

Special Package

Works of Art are Landscapes of the Mind

This set of films together in their art and expression not only reveal the landscape of the minds of the artist but also of the characters. The films move through ideas of memory and its erasure, secrets, discovery of each other and contemplations of death.

Hector Babenco, an important filmmaker, filmed as he moved towards death (Babenco, tell me when I die). This was not a morbid journey but a celebration of his life. John Berger, one of the greatest thinkers of our time, is in conversation through the film The Seasons in Quincy structured around the four seasons in an absolutely inspired way of approaching a subject. “The film is a reflection of creation as a metaphor for human existence,” Ryan Steadman. While memory is an essential function of the human mind, the erasure of memory becomes a political tool and an existential question. The ravages of war remain in the psyche long after the physical is repaired. Ghassan Halwani, a Lebanese graphic artist in his debut feature examines how a nation’s collective memory shaves away one’s sense of past and present (Erased, Ascent of the Invisible). Félicité is ostensibly a realistic narrative about a single mother struggling to make ends meet. Shot by the well-known cinematographer Celine Bozon, her camera is organically connected to the characters and to Kinshasa, revealing the joys and lows of life. As Alain Gomis the Director says, “This is Kinshasa, this is our context, but I wanted everyone to be able to relate. It’s about trying to have a connection, an intimacy. In fact, the film is constructed like a blues song.” As the title suggests Correspondências is about communication. Based on the letters exchanged between Jorge de Sena and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, two major Portuguese poets of the 20th century. From 1959 to 1978, the letters chronicle the love found in friendship. Filmmaker Rita Gomes explores themes of isolation, exile and absence in this gentle reverie. Olmo and the Seagull directed by Petra Costa, Lea Glob is a journey through a woman’s mind drifting between fact and fiction.The film presents the pain, sorrow and conflict of a woman having to make a choice.

These films could probably alter the landscape of a viewer’s mind as all art is meant to do. At this moment when all the world hit by the pandemic is rebooting, perhaps this alteration is what will bring greater understanding, tolerance and joy.

Bina Paul
November 2020

Film line-up

All films will be available for 48 hours from 12:00pm IST (6:30 am GMT) on the day it is released as per the Schedule.
Some films have a limited number of views and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Join the conversations, Masterclasses amd On Practice sessions on Zoom, YouTube & Facebook.

On Practice

The Many Cinemas of North-East India

3 December 2020 | 7:00 pm IST (01:30 pm GMT)

Reflections on Cinematography

6 December 2020 | 7:00 pm IST (01:30 pm GMT)


Anjali Menon in conversation with Smitha Nair

4 December 2020 | 7:00 pm IST (01:30 pm GMT)

Dibakar Banerjee in conversation with Ranjani Mazumdar

5 December 2020 | 7:00 pm IST (01:30 pm GMT)

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