Iram Ghufran

There Is Something In The Air
India 2011

Kunstsaele Berlin
Opening Wednesday 08.02. 18:00 - 21:00
Daily 11:00 - 20:00

Meet the Artists:
13.02. 12:00 - 13:00
18.02. 12:00 - 13:00

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THERE IS SOMETHING IN THE AIR is a call from the periphery of sanity. This documentary is a series of dream narratives, and accounts of spiritual possession as experienced by women ‘petitioners’ at the shrine of a Sufi saint in north India.
It is a short film about many things – about longing and transgression, and fairies and djinns to list a few. The film blends documentary and fictional tropes to weave a narrative that is based on ‘hearsay.’ There are no experts here, and no eyewitnesses. The narrators might also be unreliable.
Drama unfolds via dreams, and appearances of djinns and disappearances of women. The film brings together accounts of women who claim to be ‘afflicted’ by something in the air – be it a spirit, demon, ghost, or djinn. In popular parlance, the condition is termed ‘hawai marz’ or ‘affliction of air.’ The shrine, where they come together, becomes a space of expressions of longing and transgression. It is a space where performance becomes the only rule of engagement, and one can begin to think of the possibilities that ‘insanity’ produces.
The shrine assumes the role of a hospital and a court of law. ‘Patient-petitioners’ come from all over the country and each ‘case’ is heard in the dead Saint’s ‘Court’ – twice a day. The process begins with patients writing a ‘petition’ with the help of care-takers of the shrine, and putting in an ‘appearance’ before the Saint. ‘Healing’ may take years, and most patients live in and around the shrine, making ‘appearances’ in the Court of the Saint everyday. They don’t need lawyers, witnesses, or a body of proof. The truth claim of their speech act during the appearance while they’re possessed is unquestioned.

Iram Ghufran is a filmmaker based in New Delhi, India. Her work largely emerges from various interdisciplinary practices - from filmmaking, photography, research, and writing. It has been shown in various international art and cinematic contexts: Aar-Paar Public Arts Project, Watermans Arts Centre, World Social Forum and ISEA among others.

Production: Public Service Broadcast Trust, Doordarshan, Prasar Bharti
Script, research, editing
: Iram Ghufran
Cinematography: Kashif Siddiqui
Location sound recording
: Pratik Biswas
Sound design: Asheesh Pandya
Format: DVCAM
Running time: 29 min