Urban Lens 2018

Bengaluru: 20 – 23 September 2018 | New Delhi: 16 – 18 November 2018 | Mumbai: 7 – 8 December 2018

After successful editions in Bengaluru and New Delhi earlier this year, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements is collaborating with Godrej India Culture Lab to take a travelling package of some of the best films from the current edition of the festival to Mumbai between 7 – 8 December 2018.

These films explore different facets of what the city produces – whether political, social, economic or cultural. These films frame cities beyond their skylines by teasing out individual/collective stories and experiences of people from around the world. Adding to this dialogue will be conversations with directors, a panel discussion, a poetry session, four exhibitions and a public talk.

This travelling package hopes to create a space for reflection and spark critical discussions about cinema and the nature of the urban experience. To register please click here.


The panel discussion ‘Mapping the City’ featuring Anica Mann-Kapur from Global Xplorer (Global Xplorer uses satellite mapping to make archaeological data accessible to all and to create a network of citizen explorers), Jasmine Lovely George, Founder of Hidden Pockets (a multimedia feminist project mapping out where women and trans people can access the sexual health resources and services they need) and Padma Shri winning freelance photographer, Sudharak Olwe, who has travelled the country photographing stories of change and resilience in rural and urban communities. This conversation will be moderated by the Head of the Godrej India Culture Lab, Parmesh Shahani.


The City and the Creative Economy: Keynote by Aromar Revi

Mr Revi delivers a keynote on why the urban is important, especially in the context of Agenda 2030.The talk will highlight the relationship between the creative economy and the city and how culture, art and cinema allow us to think about the complex nature of our cities and the people who inhabit it.


Mumbai – Above and Below: This two-part exhibit showcases the work of photographers Sudharak Olwe and Johnny Miller. Sudharak Olwe’s In Search of Dignity and Justice explores the indignities suffered by Mumbai’s conservancy workers and Johnny Miller’s Unequal Scenes as a contrast offers aerial shots of Mumbai that highlight the stark economic disparity of the city.

Bambaiyya V R: in this virtual reality journey of Mumbai’s cultural heritage, you will get to see the folk stories of the city’s traditional communities come to life.

Love in the City is an intimate gallery of photographic feelings captured by the students of the Photography Trust of India.

Memories of Mumbai by GPL Design Studio is an interactive map for you to participate in and recollect your fondest memories in Mumbai.

The fifth edition of the Urban Lens Film Festival runs from 20 – 23 September 2018 in Bengaluru and 16 – 18 November 2018 in New Delhi in association with the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan in both cities.

The growth of cinema world over has been deeply influenced by different forms of urbanization. The Urban Lens Film Festival hopes to excavate aspects of this symbiotic relationship especially in countries of the Global South. Asia, Latin America and Africa have cinematic traditions that reflect their histories and complexities. The story of urbanization in these countries have distinct trajectories as compared to countries of the North, and the festival attempts to bring together these myriad films that argue and are in conversation with each other. The festival will screen films from various genres such as fiction, non-fiction, animation and experimental films, made over a wide span of the last sixty years.

Like previous editions, the festival hopes to further diverse discourses around film practices and forms and its intrinsic relationship to the city. Post-screening discussions with the director open up an interaction space for the audience, bringing in a multiplicity of perspectives that make the experience of community viewing richer. This remains one of the most important aspects of the festival. There will also be a Masterclass on the role, position and trajectories of cities in films and an in-depth conversation with a film practitioner, who will take us through the process of unbundling their craft.

We hope that these dialogues and exchanges will highlight the politics and concerns around cities and generate a new meaning of the role cinema plays in shaping our understanding of urban issues.

Films @ Urban Lens 2018

On Practice

In continuing with the series of conversations that go into different aspects of cinematic practice, this year the Urban Lens film festival will feature film practitioners who will unbundle their craft, so that we are able to reflect upon what the process of creation entails.  In an image-saturated world where proliferation of digital technologies has made cinema production and consumption accessible, it becomes even more important for us to understand what the practice behind filmmaking is, and how it has shaped our cinematic imaginations over time, and continues to even today. Editor Jabeen Merchant and Director, Editor and Educator Sameera Jain will speak to these ideas at the Bengaluru and Delhi editions respectively.

These reflections around their practice are not only meant for cinephiles and students of cinema, but for anyone who is interested in questions around cinematic form and language. We hope that these sets of discussions will lead to a deeper and nuanced understanding of the images and sounds that shape us.

New Delhi: 16 November 2018 | 17.30 | Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan

Sameera Jain is an editor, director and educator. Her practice as a filmmaker and educator has constantly engaged and pushed the boundaries of what we call the “documentary” form, and accepted codes around it. This conversation hopes to unpack the different domains she works in, and see how they speak to each other. Through the session “On Practice”  with Sameera Jain, the Urban Lens film festival hopes to create a space for reflection and discussion on film pedagogy and practice, beyond film practitioners and cinephiles.

Sameera Jain will be in conversation with Rajula Shah

Bengaluru: 23 September 2018 | 18.30 | IIHS Bengaluru City Campus 

This year’s “On Practice” programme will feature Jabeen Merchant. She is an editor whose body of work includes fiction and non-fiction films that come from varied formal practices and concerns. This session will excavate larger questions around her work and the minutiae of her editing practice. Over time, technological shifts have meant that there are many people are editing their own films. In this scenario, this conversation will also attempt to delve into what an editor brings to a film, and how their gaze equally shapes it. Through clips from Jabeen’s work, this discussion hopes to create a space for reflection on the process of film editing, beyond film practitioners.

Swati Dandekar will be in conversation with Jabeen Merchant

Public Lecture

New Delhi: 17 November 2018 | 17.15 | Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan

The Cinematic Slum – Public Lecture by Ranjini Mazumdar

Squatter settlements, often referred to as ‘slums’ have been a visual force in a number of city films from across the world. The use of certain geographical locations and popular discourses about crime and poverty have given shape to a diverse range of images that are at once powerful, mythic and disturbing. This presentation provides an account of perceptions that have fuelled the spatial imagination of these squatter settlements in cinema. I start with an investigation of the planetary consciousness at work in some of the literature on ‘slums’ and then trace its influence on photographic and cinematic forms. I show how this planetary vision articulated explicitly in aerial views, is constantly threatened by an over-spill of challenging images. Whether exploitative, sensational or prone to accusations of poverty porn, the images offer a hyper-sensory encounter with the world of these informal urban settlements. These encounters rely on certain techniques that are unique to cinema and therefore provide an alternative vision to sociological, historical and economic accounts of urban squats. My discussion will focus particularly on the visceral, violent and embodied forms of experiences associated with the cinematic encounter with slums.

New Delhi: 18 November 2018 | 16.00 | Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan

City on the Water – Public Lecture by Ritesh Uttamchandani

This talk is aimed to be a photographic journey through the works of Ritesh Uttamchandani. It will showcase some departures from conventional journalism, works from his urban series such as the afterlife of political propaganda posters, the street temples of the city, lunch break nappers at Horniman circle garden and some comical work such as commuters who snoop into fellow passenger’s newspapers. This journey finally leads up to his book “The Red Cat and Other Stories”.

Bengaluru: 22 September 2018 | 15.45 | IIHS Bengaluru City Campus 

The festival will feature a public lecture by Ratheesh Radhakrishnan on the emergence of Kochi as a city in Malayalam cinema, its relationship with Bombay and Bangalore and how it has eventually carved out a distinct place for itself.

The presentation attempts to think through the urban imagination in Malayalam cinema. While attempting to provide a linear history of this imagination, the presentation also hopes to discuss the aesthetic and historical conditions that structure such imaginations and its spatio-temporal consolidation into the mappable. It will suggest that the city is a narrative form, and ask how and why Malayalam cinema engages it. Using sequences and images from select Malayalam films over the decades, the presentation hopes to prise open binaries such as the urban and the rural, the village and the city, land and sea, realism and melodrama.

Festival Team


Bursenla AO & Shreya K A


Yashodara Udupa


Zohrab Reys Gamat 


Gail Coutinho


Vikrant M S


Nawaz Khan


Sandeep Viswanath & Amit Mahanti

Get in touch with us

Urban Lens 2018

4 + 1 = ?

IIHS Benagluru City Campus: No. 197/36, 2nd Main Road,  Sadashivanagar, Bengaluru 560 080. India. T: +91 80 6760 6666 |  F: +91 80 2361 6814  |  E: urbanlens at iihs dot ac dot in

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan
716, CMH Road, Indiranagar 1st Stage, Bengaluru 560 038
T: +91 80 2520 5305

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan
3, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, HC Mathur Lane, New Delhi, Delhi 110 001
T: +91 11 2347 1100

Godrej One: Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400079 India. T: +91 22 2518 8010

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