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Film Screening: Shaunak Sen | Cities of Sleep

February 23, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm
MucMurtry 115

Free and Open to the Public

Moderated by Usha Iyer, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History.  

Film and Media Studies, Department of Art and Art History 

‘Cities of Sleep’ takes us into a heady world of insurgent sleeper’s communities as well as the infamous ‘sleep mafia’ in Delhi where just securing a safe sleeping spot often becomes a question of life and death for a large number of people.

The film trails the lives of two individuals, Shakeel and Ranjeet. Shakeel, a renegade homeless sleeper has for the last 7 years slept in a diverse range of improvised places like subways, under park benches, parking lots, abandoned cars and lately, at areas controlled by the sleep mafia. The film follows his attempts to secure a safe sleeping space just around the time the infamous winter rains of Delhi are due.

Ranjeet runs the ‘sleep-cinema’ community in Loha Pul in Delhi, a huge double-storey iron bridge straddling the banks of the river Yamuna. A thin strip of land under Loha Pul houses shanty cinemas where over 400 odd homeless come and sleep through the day for a nominal price. The flooding of the river Yamuna poses a threat to the people sleeping there every monsoon.

The film looks at not only the tremendous social and political pressure that sleep exerts on the homeless in the city but is also a philosophical exploration of sleep at large.

SHAUNAK SEN is a filmmaker, video artist and scholar based in Delhi. ‘Cities of Sleep’ is his first feature length documentary, funded by the Films Division of India. He has edited various other documentary and experimental fiction/non-fiction films including ‘Squad’s Fall Guys’ (2013), ‘Old Town’ (2013) and ‘T&Lily’ (2014).

He co-curated a live-event installation called Downtime held simultaneously at Delhi and Berlin (at the Goethe Institute in New Delhi and Neukölln in Berlin) in November 2014. This event was co-curated by Frank Oberhaußer and Amitesh Grover. He also co-curated a live performance/video installation event ‘Notes on Mourning’ at Khoj Studios in January 2015 (co-curated by Arnika Ahldag and Amitesh Grover). He attended the Copycat Academy Residency, curated by Hannah Hurtzig at the Luminatos Film Festival in Toronto in June 2015.

Shaunak was also the recipient of the Digital and Social Media Fellowship from Sarai in 2014. A mass communication graduate of AJK MCRC Jamia Milia, New Delhi he is currently enrolled as a PhD student at the School of Arts and Aesthetics at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University in Delhi. His academic writing has been published in various journals including Bioscope and Widescreen.He has also worked as a journalist for Tehelka and as a freelance investigative journalist for other media portals.

Event Co-Sponsor(s): 
Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, Program on Urban Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Center for South Asia, Department of Art & Art History
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