Located across a trans-Himalayan high-altitude desert, Ladakh today, as the northern frontier of India, balances a popular imagination between a pristine monastic spirituality and international borders. Historically a crossroad between the Tibetan Himalayas and west Asia, Central and sub-continental Asia, Ladakh has been a witness to the passage of empires, armies, merchants, goods and ideas. Developing thereof not only a robust local material culture, but a syncretic cosmopolitan character.
As a new Union Territory of India, Ladakh today is undergoing systemic shifts, bringing forth dreams of an ideal state; and desires and demands of civic reforms; dynamizing an otherwise imagined idyllic landscape / mindscape. The proliferation of industrialized tourism is reshaping the contours of regional culture and economy and raising questions on its fragile ecosystem.
The workshop will facilitate and contextualize observations of the evolving urbanscapes, community histories and social memory, aspects of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, while simultaneously examining and experimenting with the creative documentary practice.
The workshop will be anchored around the themes of human ecology, urbanization and material culture. Alongside inputs on conceptualisation, pre production, production and post production of short films, the workshop will include a curated landscape tour around ideas of making: from historical conservation sites, to contemporary restoration of architecture, wall painting and artifacts, to engagements with contemporary art practice across visual and material culture and recent liaisons between design and craft, plotted along historical trade routes and contemporary borders. Based out of the old town in Leh and a nearby village Phey, the sites of exploration would extend to Skurbuchan, Photoksar in western Ladakh, Ensa, and Turkuk in the Nubra Valley, Puga in Changthang.
Self reflexivity will be a key aspect of the workshop.
Participants will be facilitated to make their own short films and media artifacts - ready for exhibition at the culmination of the workshop. The films and media artifacts bear a much longer life not only to exhibit and construct discourses on culture of the said region but archive contemporary concerns and movements.
WHO IS IT FOR
The workshop hopes to draw participants from both the region and beyond, having diverse professional backgrounds and interests including: anthropology and other social sciences, film, art, architecture and design. The trans-cultural-disciplinary participation aims at a productive exchange of ideas and insights setting up a diversity and inclusive experience of collective learning.
It is an intermediate level workshop – open for participants from all over India and abroad.
CURRICULUM & SCHEDULE OUTLINE
*Detailed curriculum design can be shared with interested participants upon request.
With Accommodation (twin or triple sharing basis) + Breakfast & Lunch
₹59000 - For Indian Participants
€1100 - For International Participants
Without the provision of Accommodation and Meals
₹39000 - For Indian Participants
€900 - For International Participants
*Participants will be assisted to book their own accommodation in Leh as per their choice or preference. One can sign up for lunch, on days one wishes to, on a daily contribution basis.
*Dinner options are kept open for all participants to explore in Leh. As and when needed, for those who request, a dinner scheme can be worked out.
The production costs of the films - which will mainly include local travel and lodging for 2 days of self designed exploration + 3 days of reconnaissance + 5 days shooting schedule - cannot be accounted for in advance, and will have to be borne by each filmmaking group - depending on the film they have chosen to make - its location, scope etc. During these days, the basecamp will be available for the participants - in case one wishes to anchor at the base and explore subjects in the vicinity.
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS
A minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 participants are recommended in each filmmaking group - which can organically evolve during the course of the workshop. The workshop looks out for about 20 participants in total.
We believe the equipment you have is the best equipment to make your film with. As you are familiar with your own equipment, you can learn to utilize it better for your own film. However, it is not mandatory to have your own equipment to participate in this workshop.
In case you do have any piece, like a camera or a tripod or any grips or an editing laptop or any recorders, we encourage you to bring it along. Participants will be making films in groups, so your equipment will be utilized for your own group. We hope the groups to be self-sufficient in terms of basic equipment like a camera, a tripod and a recorder.
From our side we will provide for what is missing in each group.
Please fill the application form and write the statement of purpose thoughtfully. Selection will be on strength of application i.e on the basis of merit and motivation to join the workshop. Applications will be processed within 4 days of receipt. Selected participants will be notified within a week after receiving application. Fee payment is expected within a week of selection. Participation will be confirmed upon verification of payment.
We request early applications as early selection can enable better planning of logistics.
Richa Hushing & Rrivu Laha are documentary filmmakers and co-directors of Auroville Film Institute. While Rrivu works as a director-cinematographer, Richa’s films are often character portraits; and portraits of indigenous communities in liminal states.
‘Nicobar, a long way…’ a documentary observing Nicobarese identity and resilience in wake of Tsunami – is one of their latest works, winning accolades in anthropological and environmental film festivals (Special Mention at the Millennium Film Festival, Belgium in 2017; Pêcheurs du monde, Lorient, France, 2018; Film South Asia, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2017; Viscult – The festival of Visual Culture, Joensuu, Finland, 2017; World Film Festival, Tartu, Estonia, 2017; Royal Anthropological Film Festival, Bristol, 2017; Ethnografilm Festival, Paris, 2017; Smaragdni Eco Film Festival, Hrvatska Kostajnica, Croatia, 2017 and International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, India, 2016)
Their previous works have also won international accolades – Rrivu’s debut film ‘Amchi Kasauti (2005) winning best documentary at Jeevika film festival of livelihoods; best documentary at IBDA Dubai; selected in Mumbai International film festival; Tehran International Film Festival. His ‘Vasudev’ -the singing minstrels of Maharashtra won special jury mention at Youth New Wave Film Festival, Sri Lanka, 2008. Richa’s debut film, ‘Love Song…’ (2008) was selected at the International documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, Bangalore Queer Film Festival; Her 2013 film ‘Devrai’ on the sacred groves of Maharashtra won the best documentary award at the Maharashtra State Film Awards. Rrivu’s short ‘Dhananjay Kulkarni ‘Chandragupt’ (2009) and Richa’s ‘Director Painter Shri Baburao Laad’ both were selected to be a part of Retrospective of Indian Documentaries at Iran International Film Festival in 2013, among other selections.
After a decade-long practice based in Mumbai, in 2017 Richa and Rrivu moved to Auroville, an international township in South India. In Auroville, they co-founded the Auroville Film Institute, working as co-directors and curriculum designers – offering cinema-centric learning journeys. Films produced under their mentorship have have been selected in several international film festivals, latest being the Mumbai International Film Festival where they showcased a package of 11 student films from 3 workshop series : ‘I See Ghosts’ focusing on cinema and psyche; ‘Lockdown-Unlock’ chronicling the pandemic times; and the ‘Ladakh Documentary Filmmaking Workshop’ anchored in the principles of deep ecology.
ASSOCIATE FACULTY & CONFERENCE CURATOR
Abeer Gupta is currently the director of the Achi Association India in New Delhi and Leh. He has directed several documentary films and curated art, education and community media projects. His research is based in the western Himalayas, in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir around oral histories, material cultures, and visual archives.
He directed A Day's Job, documentary-short (2006), executive produced, Siddharth, the Prisoner, fiction-feature (2007) which received the Critic’s Choice Award at the second annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), Gold Coast, Australia, 2008 and Best Actor Award at the 10th Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema, 2008. In 2009 he created Pila House: Bombay/ Mumbai, Produced by Public Service Broadcast Trust, New Delhi & Majlis, Bombay. In 2011 Gupta received the Early Career Film Fellowships at Centre for Media & Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and initiated the documentation of oral histories around the advent and the contemporary material and visual culture of Islam in the western Himalayas. In 2011, he created Imaginary/Tactile, Video Installation, Project Cinema City, FTII, Pune and in 2016 Ajrakh, Video Installation, for Imprints of Culture: Block Printed Textiles of India, 26 Feb - 24 Mar 2016, at the Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham.
He has participated in several group shows, such as Project Cinema City (NGMA India, 2012), Fibre Fables (The Stainless Gallery, New Delhi, 2015) and Witness to Paradise, (Singapore Biennale 2016) and Walking Away, a found footage, multimedia installation, in Ghosts, Traces, Echoes: Working in Layers at Akademie der Künste der Welt, Cologne, Germany (2020).
He co-curated Atoot dor: Unbroken Thread: The Banarasi Brocade Sari at Home and in the World (National Museum, New Delhi 2016), Notes, Documents, Processes – impressions from a school, with Shruti Mahajan, for the Hyderabad Literary Festival (2021) and curated Old Routes, New Journeys II (Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal 2017) Graphic Storytelling in India (KNMA, New Delhi, 2018) and Urban Frames, Visual Practices and Transitions (Hyderabad City 2019) Back to the Future – Visualizing the Future of Sequential Graphic narratives in India, Chitrakatha, (NID Vijayawada 2021) Is there a Contemporary in Ladakhi Art? Curatorial Intensive South Asia, Khoj & Goethe Institut, Delhi (India International Centre, New Delhi 2022)
Gupta has a long experience of teaching, prominently at the National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad), Ambedkar University (Delhi) and conducted a series of lectures at the School of Art and Aesthetics, JNU (Delhi). He has published widely, and some of his articles are: The Visual and Material Culture of Islam in Ladakh (2014), Discovering the Self and Others in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (Sage, 2014), A Sense of Place: Islam in the Western Himalaya (Marg, 2018), Material culture and art practice in Ladakh: notes from a collaborative art project, in Arts in the Margins of World Encounters, (Vernon Press, 2021) and Constructing Traditions: The Jamdani within Exhibition Practice of Handicrafts in (Projects / Processes Volume I, Serendipity Arts Festival, 2021). Gupta has a Masters Degree in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths College, London.
Auroville Film Institute is based in Auroville - an intentional, international township in South India. Auroville is commended by UNESCO as the first and only internationally endorsed ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness. The Film Institute concurs with the experimental ethos of Auroville, applying the integral education approach. AVFI’s curriculum designs are based on the principles of 3S – Self-Surrounding-Stories: encouraging filmmaking practices that spring from an inner truth while consciously interplaying with material realities around. AVFI’s cinema-centric learning journeys are designed to integrate world cinema and world citizenship, encouraging new practices – with a certain transformative potential. AVFI has had prior experience of conducting similar production oriented workshops in Ladakh and a few other locations across India.
The initiative is supported by Artshila: An Initiative of Takshila Educational Society - an immersive platform for creating and sharing ideas centered around the arts with spaces designed to facilitate artistic expression and curate creative experiences. Our focus is on architecture, cinema, design, literature, performing arts & visual arts across four unique locations—Ahmedabad, Santiniketan, Patna & New Delhi. The Arthshila centers offer regular quality curation of performances, seminars, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, and interactions that seek to inspire curious minds and offer a pan-India network for exhibition.
Certificate of participation will be issued jointly by Auroville Film Institute and Achi Association India. 90% attendance is compulsory to get a certificate.
Please note that donations one made will not be refunded unless the workshop itself has to be canceled due to any emergencies. In case the workshop is canceled, a refund will be organized, otherwise not.