Forest Tales - Performing Cinema
A member of Intersection for the Arts
Forest Tales: Performing Cinema, is a queer scifi eco-feminist retelling of the Ramayana as a Sitayana. It is a speculative cinema project that not only narrates eco-tales at the horizon of the sixth extinction, but also reimagines the cinematic process/apparatus itself, revealing cinema as a corporeal and land-based practice. The project reimagines the South Asian epic from the point-of-view of the secondary characters in the narrative: Sita, daughter of the earth, emerges as microbe, plant, forest, and then climate refugee, in this retelling; and the vulture Jatayu is resurrected, only to bring him face-to-face with extinction in the present. Speaking with Sita and Jatayu transports the epic from the realm of religious imagination to that of speculative docu-fiction, and updates the political context of the narrative to the present. Dis/ability becomes a central concern of this project, extending disability justice beyond the human to include impaired landscapes and disabled ecologies. Originally imagined as an off-the-grid film, the project has aspired to use hand-crank and bicycle-powered mechanisms to fuel the energy needs of the project. But since the most environmentally-friendly film is one that never gets made, the project now exists as a performance of the film. Rather than cinema, it is the cinematic that becomes the center of this project, expanding cinema’s purview beyond the image to include the apparatus through which these images are made, circulated, consumed, and eventually disposed of. Past iterations of the project have involved presskits, podcast soundtracks, and performances where audiences become-camera, become-sprocket, and become-projector, and participate in imagined cinema visualizations.