SF International South Asian Film Festival 2010: In Camera – Review

For 25 years Ranjan Palit has been a documentarian cameraman.  His latest film, In Camera, is an attempt at chronicling those past two-and-a-half decades.

By both revisiting his filmography (complete with edited scenes) and reuniting with past film subjects, Palit’s road to discovery is very much a spiritual one.   Our road – the voyuer’s viewer’s – to Palit’s spiritual discovery is paved in synchronized self-reflective narrative and poetically captivating images.

At the start of the film the following questions are posed: Am I a different person?  Have I lost my sense of real incidents, events, people?  Do I feel less now?  Has the world turn into a maze of images never-ending?  These questions alone would have been sufficient enough query for an engaging experience, and our journey into Palit’s psyche does remain engaging throughout, even as more self-reflecting questions continue to pop up along the way.

In a film filled with so many questions and no definitive answers one might feel like they have been hornswoggled (I love that word) into viewing one man’s scrapbooking project.  I mean, the very idea of creating a video autobiography, composed mostly of clips from older footage has the word narcissism written all over it, right?  Well, surprisingly, I did not find this to be a film about one man’s narcissistic ways.  What I saw was one man’s questioning not just his own, but everyone’s morality, immortality, and ultimately, humanity.

Editing one’s life work, along with new footage must have been a painstakingly tedious process.  To do this into only 82 minutes and still give the film meaning is an accomplishment one should be very proud of.  My only regret is that I have not seen any of Ranjan Palit’s films beforehand.  It would be interesting to know what people who have seen his earlier work think of this film.

Showtimes for In Camera:

Sunday, November 7, 2010 5:30pm @ The Castro Theatre

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