New Asian Currents [INDIA]

A Night of Prophecy

- INDIA / 2002 / English, various languages of India / Color / Video / 77 min

Director, Producer: Amar Kanwar
Photography: Rajan Palit
Editing: Sameera Jain
Sound: Asheesh Pandya
Production Company, Source, World Sales: A.K. Productions

A journey with India’s torment, carried by poetry and song. Poets of the people and writers of protest songs raise their voices; dancers celebrate their lower-caste origins, leaping with the rhythm of the drums. Poetry about a Mumbai prostitute who lives under a viaduct; untouchables sing their anger; a choir chants of blood and tears shed in Nagaland’s war for independence; soldiers roam the darkness of night in Kashmir. Using no interviews or voiceover narration, everyday moments are captured as if by a floating spirit, and poetry by the downtrodden lays witness to the time lived out by the people of India.

[Director’s Statement] For the last few years I had been traveling and working in different parts of India and was disturbed by what I saw. I wondered if there was a possibility of witnessing the passage of time through poetry. Could poetry communicate through conflicting political positions, open up histories and explain the present?

Could different poetic narratives merge together, allowing us to see a more universal language of symbols and meanings . . . And if such a merger in the mind does take place then would there be a moment of prophecy—when suddenly you can see where each and every one of the territories are heading, where we all belong, and where to intervene, if we want to.

The enjoyable part of making this film was the search and the small moments of unexpected friendships that came my way, as poetry opened doors, gave me meals and led me on to the next poet . . . school teacher, accountant, wandering singer, cargo worker, famous balladeer, lonely professor, young priest . . . Personally I gained strength from this film and hope that it works that way for others too.

- Amar Kanwar

Born in 1964. An independent documentary filmmaker working from New Delhi, India for the last fifteen years. His recent films have been on ecology, politics, and philosophy, and his documentaries have received several awards and have been widely screened.

He received the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival, 1999 for A Season Outside (screened in New Asian Currents at YIDFF ’99), the Jury’s award at Film South Asia in 2001 for King of Dreams (shown at YIDFF 2001), and the Grand Prix at EnviroFilm 2002, Slovak Republic for the film FREEDOM. A Night of Prophecy was also shown at DOCUMENTA 11 in Germany and other festivals.

• New Asian Currents | Sand and Water | Wellspring | Three-Five People | Homesick | The Circle’s Corner | The Maze of Lanes | Nee Engey—Where Are You | NEW (IMPROVED) DELHI—Director’s Cut | A Night of Prophecy | 150 Seconds Ago | The Ballad of Life | Noah’s Ark | The Old Man of Hara | Dandelion | Hibakusha—At the End of the World | 3rd Vol.2—2 Light House | And Thereafter | Dust Buries Sabuk | Family Project: House of a Father | Edit | Gina Kim’s Video Diary | Ordo | Her and Him Van Leo | The Big Durian | Perpetual Motion | Debris | Hard Good Life | Nail | The Rhythm in Wulu Village | A Short Journey • Jurors | Kim Dong-won | Kawase Naomi • New Asian Currents Special | Part 1 | Part 2