September 24, 2006

Collective Chaos - the muted adventure.

Ok, I finally have finished my exams. My last exam was yesterday. Since our class takes the exams as 2 batches on 2 consecutive days, there isn’t really any point celebrating on the 1st day since half the class still hasn’t finished.

So, for want of something to do in the evening, I decided to go checkout Collective Chaos. Now CC, is part-forum for budding young filmmakers, part-film-society which arranges weekly screenings of alternative cinema. How I know this? Because its on the website… beyond that, I know nothing. I first learnt about it on the college bulletin-board, and was told it was a nice place to go if one liked art-movies etc…and that further details could be obtained ‘at-venue’.

Also, CC is on Millers Road…really quite close to home. And the weekly screening is on a Friday, a day I usually find myself quite bored in the evenings anyway. I’ve been putting off a check-out-visit for a long time now, and I decided it would be a nice tension-release after the exam.

So yesterday I went to CC. I walked into the Cinematheque…it’s on the 5th floor. I’m 10mins late and so I’m not surprised to see a lone guard sitting near the door, and no one else around. I confirm I’m at the right place and walk on in.

The show must’ve started and that’s why there’s no one around, I figure. So I walk past the heavy sound proof doors and enter a smaller-than-expected auditorium. The lights are off and there’s a overhead projector on, playing a foreign-language movie with English sub-titles.

So, I take a seat. There are people all around me engrossed in the movie, but the glow off the screen isn’t enough to make out any details. I’m trying to make out the company I’m in….young/old? College/working? Serious/informal? I can’t make out anything, so I stop staring out of the corner of my eyes and pay attention to the screen.

The movie is called “Blackboards”, and is about a teacher who carries his blackboard with him everywhere, high in the Afghan mountains, persuading the boys who run the illegal paths through the mountains to Iraq to smuggle contraband to let him teach them. They’re obviously disinterested.

It’s a bleak landscape, and plenty of gallows humor. Still no one watching laughs, mumbles or says anything. It’s really weird. No one talks. No cell phones going off. No one getting up in between. Nothing.

Then suddenly the movie is over. The kids get shot as they’re crawling amidst a large flock of wooly sheep past the border guard. Still nothing. No shocked gasps. No whispers to the neighbour. There’s a pause. Then people start getting up and leaving.

No one’s talking much. People move out in groups of 2’s and 3’s. Outside, the volume is not much higher than it was inside. People quietly read the circular about next weeks movie, and move off.

The whole experience was absolutely surreal…like one of those weird dreams when things only ‘happen’ and no one talks. Like an out-of-body experience. I walked away feeling a bit numbed by the whole thing.

It was such a weird experience that I’m going back next week.


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