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"blending activism and filmmaking"





Thin Air

Original Language:

Ashim Ahluwalia

1999. 42min.


AWARD: First Prize

For finding a metaphor in the person of the Professor that was both eccentrically imagined and real; For showing the life of a deeply individualistic man refusing the collectivity of his changing society; for a dramatic and poignant treatment of the real, unreal and surreal in a style.


By turns darkly comic and unsettling, Thin Air chronicles the lives of three magicians against the backdrop of contemporary Bombay: middle-aged magician Shailendra is a prosaic, small-time entertainer whose entire world hinges on the mistaken belief that his audience loves him; 12-year-old child-wonder Kruti Parekh is "the world's youngest magician and India's first test-tube baby"; and long-forgotten legend Niranjan Mathur is a fading conjurer, who, having lost his popularity, is gradually beginning to lapse into dementia. Weaving portraits of the three magicians, the film introduces a disquieting link between the characters. This unique documentary traces, with humour and compassion, the urgent desperation of ordinary individuals to make an imprint on the world. Thin Air ultimately offers a refreshingly complex vision of urban life through three illusionists who have little option but to confront reality.


About the Director ...

Ashim Ahluwalia was born in Bombay, India, on June 3, 1972, where he grew up on a nutritious diet of Hindi-movie extravaganzas and B-grade American films. He studied film at Bard College in New York under experimental filmmakers Peter Hutton and Peggy Ahwesh. His previous film, A Short Season, has been to several film festivals, including the 19th Asian-American Film Festival (New York), the Bangkok International Film Festival and the Bombay International Documentary and Short Film Festival. Ashim Ahluwalia lives and works in Bombay.

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