FD-zone London Fifth Edition
a collaboration between the Faculty of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster, and the Films Division, Government of India
Imagining Facts: Documentary Narratives and the Indian Nuclear Project
Monday 25 April from 6pm to7.45pm
Room: UG05, University of Westminster
309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW
In the current Indian scenario where diverse people’s movements challenge the Indian state’s nuclear project, we ask what is the role of “scientific facts” in providing legitimacy for particular truth claims? Through a curated screening of non-fiction films from 1960s onwards, the session will explore how documentary becomes a terrain to articulate opposing assertions about the Indian nuclear project. The films from the archives of Films Division, the key filmmaking unit of government of India, provide striking examples of non-fiction strategies which get mobilized to create expert claims about the “safe” nature of the nuclear project. However the certainty of such facts are challenged through other representations. The session will discuss the particular ways in which diverse narratives resist the hegemony and violence of ‘undeniable facts’, and address the gap between pro-nuclear documentary assertions, on the one hand, and the filing of sedition cases against anti-nuclear protestors, on the other.
The films will be introduced by curator Fathima Nizaruddin (University of Westminster). The screening will be followed by a discussion with Prof. Raminder Kaur (University of Sussex), author of the book Atomic Mumbai: living with the radiance of a thousand suns, Prof. Joram ten Brink
(Academic Director, International Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film, University of Westminster) and the curator. The session will be chaired by Prof. Rosie Thomas (Director, Centre for Research and Education in Art and Media, University of Westminster)
From Tiny Grains of Sand, (Director: Arun Chaudhuri, 1961
11 minutes, 45 seconds, Films Division)
The film explains the different stages involved in the mining of atomic minerals. It stresses the importance of atomic energy and the achievements made by India in this field.
Atom Man’s Most Powerful Servant ( Direction: P.B. Pendharkar, 1974
13minutes 10seconds, Films Division)
This film produced by Films Division in 1974, the year in which India conducted its first nuclear weapons test, makes a strong case for the role of the atom to facilitate the progress of the nation. The test is not presented as a weapons test. Instead, scientists explain that it was a scientific experiment to help oil and gas exploration.
Atomic Energy and India (Direction: Vijay B.Chandra, 1972, 10 minutes, Films Division)
In this film, Vijay B. Chandra, who directed many films which were categorized as experimental, uses an unconventional narrative to situate nuclear reactors as the new temples of modern India.
Child on a Chess Board: (Direction: Vijay B.Chandra, 1979
7 minutes 47 seconds, Films Division)
Vijay B. Chandra uses an abstract narrative yet again in this film. However, here he
ruminates about the precariousness of life in the planet amidst nuclear weapons.
Song of Coastal Lilies (Neythalin Paadal): (Director: Sreemith Sekhar, 2012, 7 Minutes)
This independent film provides an account of the anti-nuclear movement against the Kudankulam Atomic Power Project in Tamil Nadu through a protest song from the movement.
Nuclear Hallucinations: (Director: Fathima Nizaruddin, 2016, 10 minute extract)
Nuclear Hallucinations is a film, which claims to be a documentary, and it is centered around the anti-nuclear struggle against the Kudankulam Atomic Power Project. In a context where cases of sedition and waging of war against the state are filed against anti-nuclear protesters, the film attempts to question the totalitarian nature of pro-nuclear assertions through comic modes.
FD-zone London is a collaboration between the Films Division, Government of India, and the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) at the University of Westminster. Established in 1948, Films Division India is one of the largest documentary, experimental and short film-producing units in the world. It has an archive of more than 8000 titles, which chronicle the story of independent India through diverse narratives. FD-zone London will bring this archive into conversation with contemporary independent films through a programme of regular screenings and discussions curated by film scholars.
The event is free and all are welcome but registration is essential.
Please reserve your place by registering online at
Please address any queries to Fathima Nizaruddin: firstname.lastname@example.org