City of Photos (2005) 59 min

COF 1
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Synopsis
City of Photos explores the little known ethos of neighborhood photo studios in Indian cities, discovering entire imaginary worlds in the smallest of spaces. Tiny, shabby studios that appear to be stuck in a time warp turn out to be places throbbing with energy. As full of surprises as the people who frequent these studios are the backdrops they enjoy posing against and the props they choose. These afford fascinating glimpses into individual fantasies and popular tastes. Yet beneath the fun and games runs an undercurrent of foreboding. Not everyone enjoys being photographed; not every backdrop is beautiful; not all photos are taken on happy occasions. The cities in which these stories unfold themselves become backdrops, their gritty urban reality a counterpoint to the photo palaces. Desires, memories and stories, all so deeply linked to the photographic experience, come together as part of a personal journey into the city of photos
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Credits
Direction & Editing: Nishtha Jain
Cinematography: Deepti Gupta
Research and Script: Nishtha Jain & Smriti Nevatia
Commentary: Smriti Nevatia
Associate Director: Smriti Nevatia
Music: Debojyoti Mishra
Voice: Nishtha Jain
Sound: Gissy Michael & Gautam Nag
Sound Design:Dipankar Chaki
Original Languages: Hindi, Bengali, English
Subtitles: English

Supported by
India Foundation For the Arts, Bangalore
Jan Vrijman Fund, the Netherlands


Reviews
“Brilliantly insightful, poignant, and powerful. Nishtha has demonstrated how much more one can do with film than perhaps any other media. I loved the scrutiny of individual images, the juxtapositions, and was especially struck by her evidently fantastic interpersonal skills.”
- Chris Pinney, author of Camera Indica

"The jury selects for a special commendation, City of Photos by Nishtha Jain from India for making a multi-layered film, for its skillful attention to form and for making a highly reflective film about the nature of representation itself."
- Award citation, Film South Asia, Kathmandu 

City of Photos captures in a smart way much of the flavour and character I know of India and is a modern meditation on image-making, family, memory, rituals.”
- Peter Wintonick, Filmmaker

City of Photos is a layered and complex journey into the neighbourhood studio... accompanied by a lyrical narrative...A play between what seem like opposites — order and chaos, past and present, or reality and fantasy — runs through the film.”
- Bageshree S, The Hindu

"The film is lyrical, thoughtful and thought-provoking. There is a synergy here between the visuals, the commentary and the suggestive sound track that is rare in documentary. Jain manages the irony of using the moving image to capture the image that is already still with equanimity and a certain grace, treating the viewer almost as a photographic plate upon which her impressions are recorded."
- Arshia Sattar, Openspace


"Jain's tribute to these still images in motion picture, an irony she consciously emphasizes, is enhanced by humour, nostalgia, and surrealism... It is in its ambiguity and subtlety that the film triumphs... Instead of dishing out a presumptuous treatise on photography, Jain simply captures what fascinates her personally and presents it in a manner that we might be able to see bits of our own selves in it...Strong tensions between the pleasurable and disturbing pervade the film as they do our lives and aesthetic orders and by allowing them their space and expression, the filmmaker celebrates all three."
-Pragya Tiwari, Mumbai Mirror

   

Essays, Reflections and more Reviews:
Director's Note by Nishtha Jain
Urban Dreams by Smriti Nevatia
http://www.openspaceindia.org/essays_27.htm
http://www.upperstall.com/cityofphotos.html
http://www.sfweekly.com/2005-11-09/calendar/third-third-i/
http://www.idfa.nl/jvf_filmarchive_film.asp?filmid=4173
UC Berkeley Pacific Film Archive Review



Awards
•Special Jury Commendation at Film South Asia, Kathmandu, 2005
Voted #7 and shown in the IDFA Top 20 in 2007, a section comprising audience favourites from the more than 900 films screened at IDFA in its 20-year history.

Festivals
•Premiere at IDFA, Amsterdam, 2004
•1001 Belgesel Documentary Film Festival, Istanbul, 2005
•GIFT, Taiwan, 2005
•Docfest, Munich, 2005
•Documenta, Madrid, 2005
•Ecofilms, Greece, 2005
•Golden Apricot, Yerevan, 2005
•1001 Documentary Festival, Bodrum, Turkey, 2005
•Moon Light Documentary Film Festival, Turkey, 2005
•Pusan International Film Festival, South Korea, 2005
•Film South Asia, Kathmandu, 2005
•Carmona Film Festival, Spain, 2005
•Lyon Asian Film Festival, France, 2005
•3rd I San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival, 2005
•Kara International Film Festival, Karachi, 2005
•River to River Film Festival, Florence, 2005
•9th International Short & Independent Film Festival, Dhaka, 2005
•Second KIN International Women's Film Festival, Yerevan, 2005
•Real Life on Film, Melbourne, 2006
•International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA), Montreal, 2006
•World Film Festival, Tartu, 2006
•Contact Photography Festival, Toronto, 2006
•3rd I South Asian Film Festival, New York, 2006
•Dallas South Asian Film Festival, Dallas, 2006
•Luciana Film Festival, Spain, 2006
•Zanzibar International Film Festival, 2006
•Noorderlicht Photo Festival, Netherlands, 2006
•Travelling South Asian Film Festival, 2006
•Imagine India Film Festival, Madrid, 2006
•Münchner Volkshochschule GmbH, Munich, 2006