There is obviously a special magnet in Yamagata. And it pulls you again and again. After presenting four films in competition across a decade, I find myself again in Yamagata, but this time as a juror. Spared the sweet anxiety of showing a new film but burdened now with the difficult task of selecting a new winner. A responsibility that usually I would like to avoid, but with Yamagata it is difficult to stay away. Over the years I have seen that every film here is exceptional, a unique labor of love and often a lifetime’s work in progress. Over and over again, the impossible is witnessed here. What cannot be described, cannot be seen, the in-between, the hidden, the marginal, the silence—every year is a fascinating spectrum of obsession, insight, beauty, and great skill. To select a winner often depends on a chemistry of variables; it is better to say that to have a film selected for the competition is the best prize. When you leave Yamagata, you always say: I wish to make another film and one day come back again to share it at Yamagata.
Born in 1964, he lives and works in New Delhi. Recipient of the first Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art (Norway), he makes poetic and contemplative films that explore the political, social, economic, and ecological conditions of the Indian subcontinent. A Season Outside (1997, screened at YIDFF 1999) examined issues of violence and nonviolence along the India-Pakistan border; it was awarded the Golden Conch at the Mumbai International Film Festival and the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. A Night of Prophecy (2002, screened at YIDFF 2003) explored poetry in contemporary India. Torn First Pages (2003–08) is an investigation into the current situation in Burma. He has won many other awards at film festivals, and his films have been featured in special exhibitions at art museums, including the Stediljk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the National Museum in Oslo, Norway. He also participated in Documenta 11 (2002) and 12 (2007). The Lightning Testimonies (2007) screened at YIDFF 2009.
The Scene of Crime
INDIA / 2011 / English / Color / Blu-ray (HD) / 42 min
Director, Script: Amar Kanwar
Photography: Dilip Varma
Editing: Sameera Jain
Sound: Suresh Rajamani
Source: Amar Kanwar
Grassy fields, a flowing river, reeds swaying in the wind, a man on a bike, trees, outlying branches, a horse feeding, birds flying in the sky, lights in the night, graves, a cow, goats, fish . . . . . . Images from Orissa, India, are woven together, with no dialogue except for some lines of text that tell the story of a man who went missing after protesting the confiscation of land by government and corporations, and a woman who goes looking for him. Beautiful, powerful images and simple subtitles create a simple form against which the filmmaker’s emotions are boldly expressed in relief.