Talking Pictures

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Saudha International Satyajit Ray Congress

Posted by keith1942 on June 7, 2021

The centenary year of this outstanding film-maker started on May 2nd. Happily the day was marked by the opening of this Congress which was operated via zoom. It is now available on You Tube. The Sunday session ran for three hours and a second session on Monday ran for two and half hours. The sessions were chaired by Ahmed Kaysher and  a series of speakers from India and from Britain talked about their experiences and study of Ray himself and of his film work; and some speakers also talked about his literary and musical output. The speaker included people who knew Ray personally, fellow film-makers in India and academics and archivists familiar with his films.

This was a fascinating and varied series of comment and portraits. Nearly all of the Ray titles received a mention, though unsurprisingly the trilogy that established his status was central. We also enjoyed the singing of songs connected with his films.

One got a sense both of Ray’s own views and values and the importance of the tradition of a ‘Bengali renaissance’ for this art. This provided a stimulating commentary for people revisiting or discovering his master-works.

There was mention of a complete retrospective of his films that is being planned by the British Film Institute. There will be celebrations with screenings in other territories as well so fans can anticipate a feast of fine cinema.

Sight & Sound have helpfully re-printed an interview with Ray from the 1950s. There is also a published edition edited by Bert Cardulla (20027) of interviews over the years with Ray. And one would hope that for people who will find such cinema screenings difficult to access that at least the BBC will transmit some titles; two, Mahanagar (1963) and Charulata (1964), screened on Film 4 and are still available on ALL 4. I should say that whilst waiting for cinemas to reopen I have watched the Criterion Blu-ray set of the Apu trilogy and it is very well done.

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