Leena Manimekalai leads film workshop

May 24, 2023 by Denise Ing

Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai is currently leading a 6-week non-credit film workshop for Cinema Studies Institute students called CHIMERA: A Film Greenhouse. The workshop is about decoding the idea of making films not with an absolute auteur viewpoint but of polyphonic voices.

Manimekalai posits, "Though the images and sound have moved from the chemical reaction of celluloid to blinking pixels, Film is still a physical object made by a physical set of processes by physical bodies in motion. What if film is made as a chimerical creation - different parts of its body made by different eyes and minds, a Frankensteinian specimen brought to life? The bodies we inhabit that are gendered, racialised and queer are not equally treated and experienced in the same way and that results in an accompanying view of fragmented realities. Therefore, the introspection that illuminates this exercise is; Is collective embodiment possible? Though the overarching theme will be decided by an unanimous vote of participants, chance and juxtapositions will be deployed in technique and process, to offer new meanings and more than one truth. The final creation of the exquisite corpse of cinema shall drink the wine with many hands, unleashing a manifesto beyond the edges of the screens."

The workshop students are trained to create with their smartphones, free apps, accessible resources and surroundings.

Leena Manimekalai is a leading Tamil poet and a multiple award winning intersectional queer feminist filmmaker. Innately a documentary junkie, she made a dozen of them independently, transforming them into her agency. Her voice is distinct, as she is a 'genre no bar' artist. Her strong repertoire of films with an impressive exhibition record includes the acclaimed ‘Maadathy-an unfairy tale’ (Pure fiction), ‘the Sengadal-the Dead sea’ (Cinema Verite), ‘White Van Stores’ (Feature Documentary), ‘Is it too much to ask’ (Mockumentary), ‘Goddesses’ (Short Documentary) and ‘My Mirror is the Door’ (Cine Poem). She is an interventionist and her forte is participatory filmmaking. Her tryst with censorship, both constitutional and extra constitutional, as a brown queer female body, as a poet and as a politically unapologetic filmmaker is in itself a meta narrative in her journey as an Artist.