in cooperation with CPB Foundation, Cinema Rendezvous and Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation
ENCHANTED NETWORKS – THE LIGHT OF ASIA
Enchanted Networks will be a multi-event festival to study and recognize a somewhat forgotten chapter in the histories of German and Indian cinema that commenced almost, a hundred years ago. At the end of WW1, we can watch two nations, one transiting from Kaiser Wilhelm’s monarchy to the Weimar Republic and the other, a colonized conglomerate of princely states announcing a peaceful revolution to become an independent state.
'In the field of both art history and cinematic production, in the study and creation of still and moving images, collaborations between Indians and Germans sought to retrieve or to reinvent aesthetic norms that rebelled against the conventions of the 19th century. The discipline of Indian nationalist art history, and the production of nationalist art, challenged imperial notions of Indian ‘indigenous’ art and culture ...Expressionism in Indian nationalist art was a coproduction of Indian-German collaborations in the years after the Great War.’ (Krish Manjapra, The Age of Entanglement
Himanshu Rai and Franz Osten meet around the 1920's and herald a culture of creative collaboration and cultural co-operation. German Expressionism and Indian narratology meld and merge in experimentation with filmic expression that is still evident in Indian cinema with its mastery over the melodramatic form.
This festival will screen several films, conduct multiple seminars and master classes in several colleges, to examine what happens when two pioneering artists from two dynamic cultures – India and Germany - meet and collaborate.
Enchanted Networks - The Light of Asia
explores the interchange of images and idioms in Indian and German cinematic forms and the birth of a new initiative that would have deep influences in Indian cinema especially. Beginning with ‘The Light of Asia’, there were several films that underlined this cultural confluence. Themes such as discrimination, the notion of the nation-state, the contesting of societal norms and a sense of self within the whole were dealt with, blending the Indian melodramatic screenplay format with German expressionist film techniques.
Franz Osten was born as Franz Ostermayr in Munich. Educated as a photographer, he began his film career with documentaries. In the mid of 1920 he was contacted by actor/ director Himanshu Rai, educated at Shantiniketan, wanting to make movies which broached the issue of the East for the Western film audiences. Coming from an aristocratic Bengali family, Rai also wanted to launch his own film production studio facility in India.
Franz Osten was fueled by the idea and he travelled to India in 1924 whence he directed the movie Prem Sanyas/Die Leuchte Asiens, Prapancha Pash/Throw of Dice and Shiraz–A Romance of India.
As one of the co-founders of The Bombay Talkies, Franz Osten together with Rai shot many more successful Indian movies.
The festival will include discussions by leading scholars such as Professors Suresh Chabria
and Ramu Manivannan
around expressionistic classics like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
by Robert Wiene, 1919; Nosferatu
by FW Murnau, 1922; Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler
by Fritz Lang, 1922 and of course the restored cult classic Metropolis
by Fritz Lang, 1926
To further explore the Indo-German collaboration we will also look at Orientalist films such as The Indian Tomb
by Joe May, 1921
in two parts
Part 1: The mission of the Yogi Part 2: The Tiger of Eschnapur
The collaboration also ventured beyond the orientalist creations to address contemporary issues in films such as Achut Kanya
, also directed by Franz Osten in 1936.
Osten’s film career sadly came to an abrupt end in 1939, when World War II broke out. He was arrested in India by the English and released in 1940, but had to return to Germany, thus putting an end to a promising film career.
Conceived by Helmut Schippert
, Director, Goethe-Institut Chennai and curated by K.Hariharan
and Uma Vangal
, Filmmakers and Film scholars.