Urban Lens Film Festival 2023 | Programming note

After two years of being online, the Urban Lens Film Festival is back to physical screenings at the IIHS Bengaluru City Campus. The ninth edition of the festival will be held from 16 to 19 February 2023 in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan and India Foundation for the Arts, with Champaca as the festival bookstore partner.

The festival this year explores questions around what makes a city and who it belongs to and the ways in which the city can be both a place of freedom and opportunity but also of exploitation. How do narratives of the city across time and geography resonate with each other? And finally, how do stories about the city represented in cinema shape the minutiae of our individual or collective lives and the cultural landscape?

The opening and closing films of the festival centre around themes that preoccupy us – COVID-19 and what it means to live in the age of the anthropocene. Ariyippu (Declaration), explores the effect of the pandemic on a couple’s life in Delhi. Oscar nominated All That Breathes is the closing film that draws a delicate relationship between humans and non-humans and the web of ecology within which they co-exist. 

Aise Hee, Ladies Only, Made in Bangladesh and Raat  set in the cities of Allahabad, Mumbai, Dhaka and the peri-urban contexts of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan explore themes of loneliness, labour and inhabiting public spaces as seen through the eyes of women. 

While Lorni – The Flaneur and Ïewduh are different in their storytelling methods, they both explore different aspects of the city of Shillong. I.D., set in Mumbai, takes a look at what anonymity means for a migrant worker in a city and Happy Birthday explores ideas of love in the city of Bangalore. Iqraar-Naama and Somewhere Near and Far are both set in the Delhi-NCR region and explore the present and the past through memories about the partition of the Indian subcontinent. 

In the international section the festival will screen award-winning films like White Building (Cambodia), Kabul, City in the Wind (Afghanistan), El Gran Movimiento (Bolivia), Victoria (Germany) and Made In Bangladesh that explore different aspects of cities across the world.

The festival will host a panel discussion titled Ear to the Ground: Collective Image-making, Embedded Stories on the practices of image-making, rooted in collectives and local contexts. This is in continuation with the festival’s commitment to understand the work of film and media practitioners and as a way of creating new forms of embedded knowledge and theory. In addition, the festival attendees can look forward to two exhibitions – a video installation by Nabina Chakraborty titled Nuovo Metropolis that is an interplay between Fritz Lang’s classic Metropolis and narratives of residents of Kidwai Nagar basti in Delhi and a photography exhibition by Rama Aadhithan, Sudhanva Atri and Jagdish Krishnaswamy called Crossing Thresholds, that explores the relationship between nature and the built environment in different cities.

We welcome you all to be a part of the Urban Lens Film Festival and participate in conversations with the filmmakers and artists and imagine new ideas of the city and cinema.