20th Documenta Madrid International Film Festival – Asian Presence 2023

We take a look at the Asian films that will be screened at the Documenta Madrid International Film Festival which will take place from May 3 – 7, 2023 in Madrid, Spain.

Of Dreams in the Dream of Another Mirror by Yunyi Zhu – France | 2023 – 17 minutes*

France-based Chinese filmmaker Yunyi Zhu revisits the theme of blindness and perception in this elegant and poetic observational 16 mm essay film. One of the young girls portrayed in the film defiantly addresses the director in this brilliant work about how the world is perceived with the following words: “You are using images to tell a story with no images, but I think you will fail because our story goes beyond your narrative”. But Yunyi Zhu doesn’t fail, he builds a new canon for assimilating the real by describing the way images get known and created with sounds, textures and experiences. (RS)


Is this Just a Story (Idhi Katha Matramena) by Yugantar Collective – India | 1983 – 25 minutes

Made in collaboration with the activist collective Stree Shakhti Sanghatana, Is This Just a Story? is a departure from the real and ends up as improvised fiction. Shot in just one week, the film stands as a stark, moving portrait of domestic violence, one that will become Yugantar’s most popular film. Its cast members put on a careful staging that sublimely reflects the darkness of intimacy. (JHE)

Maid Servant (Molkarin) by Yugantar Collective – India | 1981 – 25 minutes

The collective’s inaugural work focuses on the suffocating working conditions endured by domestic workers in the city of Pune. Yugantar shows how these women come together to fight for their rights, how they discuss their circumstances, discover their respective backgrounds and come up with strategies for reversing their fate. A film about the power of dialogue as a catalyst for change. (JHE)

Tobacco Embers (Tambuku Chaakila Oob Ali) by Yugantar Collective – India | 1982 – 25 minutes

Yugantar’s creative peak, Tobacco Embers documents one of India’s biggest women workers’ movements in the 1980s. The collective spent four months with tobacco factory workers in Nipani to learn the degree of exploitation (including sexual exploitation) they were exposed to, and accompanied them in protest. Shot in raw, magnetic black and white, the film captures that vibrant ferment that would shake the country to its core. (JHE)

*In Competition
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