Originally from Mumbai, Shai Heredia is not only the founder of  Experimenta , an international festival for moving-image art in India,  Shai was also involved in the early years of the infamous Bhavishyavani collective who have brought various forms of cutting edge electronic music to India over the last decade (The Mole, Aquarius Heaven, DOP, Laurent Garnier and Chloe to name just a few).

Shai has also curated experimental film programs at the Tate Modern,  Berlinale,  Images Festival (Toronto), EXIS (Seoul) and Light Cone’s nomadic Scratch Projections (Paris).  As a filmaker, her latest film titled ‘I Am Micro’,  co-directed with Shumona Goel, has also received critical acclaim and has been screened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and international film festivals such as those in Rotterdam, Toronto and London amongst others.

Currently taking part in a residency at Arsenal cinema archive in Berlin Shai has also used her time here to dive into the grit of the city’s creative scene.    Thus tommorrow night she’ll be talking about her work and has put together a a 35 min screening program at Mindpirates in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district.  It will cover experiments in animation, found footage and stylized montage from the late 60s and early 70s in India produced by Films Division, the government institution set up for the production and distribution of information film and newsreels. This selection offers a view into the aesthetic and socio-political history of experimental filmmaking in India, and is an extension of the research project Excavating Indian Experimental Film conducted by Experimenta India.

Border Movement got the chance to ask Shai a few questions on the eve of her event at Mindpirates :

You’ve been doing Experimenta for a number years now, but before that you were involved in Bhavishyavani future sounds collective, are there parallels in terms of how cutting edge film and cutting edge music are being consumed in India since the internet revolution?

Yes and no. The internet has allowed for more access to both electronic music and films, which is obviously a good thing for everyone. But I think that the film scene is more consciously engaged with its own cinema history in comparison to the music scene. Of course there are a few experimental music communities trying to push the boundaries of sound in India, but generally most electronic music from India is quite uninspiring. I think becoming more comfortable with historical experiments with music in India, and seriously studying these might help advance the music context significantly.

You have been in Berlin for the last couple of months as part of a Residency for Arsenal Cinema in Potsdamer Platz.
How do you feel about Berlin as a city and do you think a range of Indian artists, curators and creative scene will spend more time here in the future?

Its a very inspiring city with a very special openness and energy. Yes anyone interested in freeing their mind should come here – but its also important to give back to the city…. to leave something behind…contribute to it and enrich its cultural fabric…

You’ve mentioned being a fan of Ulrike Ottinger and you even ran into her during your time here. what’s your favourite film of hers and why?

Yes it was amazing to meet her. She told me about her trip to India in 1987 (i think) for a retrospective of her work, and how the screenings were packed with at least a 1000 people spilling out of the cinema!! Recently, while in Berlin, I saw ‘Ticket of No Return’ (also known as ‘Portrait of a Female Drunkard’) from 1979, and I think that film resonated with me throughout my time here – its super stylish and dark, full of late 70’s berlin characters and weirdness! I loved it!

written by Mr.Party Pants

NEWS - 19. July 2013   CITY - Berlin

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