The Creative Documentary Course (CDC) was initiated in 2013, and tailored for participants from diverse backgrounds, marking a pioneering effort in India. It was structured to be a first-of-its-kind program in the country. Delivered by some of the most distinguished names in documentary filmmaking, both from within India and internationally, the course spanned over two years. Students underwent an immersive and intensive learning process, consistently exposed to screenings, discussions, lectures, and workshops.

Throughout the program, individual mentoring and personal sessions with faculty members played a crucial role at every stage, contributing significantly to the overall learning experience.

From 2017 onwards, CDC forged collaborations with the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, a global cultural organization known for its collaborations with local partners on a diverse array of cultural, artistic, and reflexive programs and projects. Additionally, the CDC partnered with Thinking Film during this period. Thinking Film dedicated itself to pedagogy, non-fiction cinema, exploring concepts related to representation, and the interplay between relationships and cinematic expression.

After eight successful years and six academic batches, the CDC course concluded its offerings.

Eminent Visiting Faculty

Our students have had the opportunity to interact with and learn from eminent practitioners, artists and scholars from India and abroad, such as:

  • Amar Kanwar, Amit Dutta, Amit Mahanti, Anugyan Nag, Aparna Sanyal, Asheesh Pandya, Avijit Mukul Kishore, Nilita Vachani, Priya Sen, Priyanka Chhabra, R. V. Ramani, Radhamohini Prasad, Rajula Shah, Reena Mohan, Renu Savant, Ruchika Negi, Samreen Farooqui, Shabani Hassanwalia, Sherna Dastur, and Surabhi Sharma.
  • Interdisciplinary inputs from distinguished external faculty include Dilip Simeon, Ira Bhaskar, Maya Krishna Rao and Rustom Bharucha.

Awards, Screenings and Exhibitions

Awards

Smaran (Impressions) by Purandhya Sharma

There is so much to say as we live through life. Our experiences become our stories. Over a few afternoons spent with my grand aunt, I get an insight into my roots as I listen to the reminiscences of the older generation who have so much to share.

  • Best Screenplay (Student Documentary), 9th Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival (2020).

Click to view trailer

Did You Do It? by Aditi Bhande

A place that is neither urban nor rural, on the fringes of the capital of India. The film attempts to explore the dynamics between natural resources and human intervention in this place that is my home. Who is responsible- they, you, me- all of us?

  • Best Editing (Student Documentary), 10th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival, New Delhi (2020).
  • Best Documentary (Student category), 9th Bangalore Shorts Film Festival (2020).
  • Best Cinematography (Student Documentary), 9th Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival (2020).
  • Top 2nd Short Documentary, 16 International Film Festivals organised by Jaipur International Film Festival Trust (2020).
  • Special Festival Mention (Student Documentary), 9th Delhi Shorts International Film Festival (2020).

Click to view trailer

Sudhamayee by Megha Acharya

The film's narrative revolve around a woman whose life is filled with events that happen tediously often, even as she battles a chronic disease. She lives on, drawn along by the nectar of life.

  • Best Director (Student Documentary), 10th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival, New Delhi (2020).
  • Special Festival Mention (Student Documentary), 9th Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival (2020).
  • Special Festival Mention (Student Documentary), 9th Delhi Shorts International Film Festival (2020).
  • Toto Funds the Arts (TFA) Award for Best Short Film (2021).

Click to view trailer

Teesri Khwaish by Purandhya Sharma, Rustam Mazumdar & Shuchi Prasad

Whether the fog settles on the tracks tonight or not, a cloud of enigma consumes New Delhi Railway Station. Whether the train arrives at platform number 5 or not, we are promised a journey. What happens to the passengers who fall victim to the menacing station, who rely partly on the bookseller and entirely upon fate to reach home safely? Will a third wish be granted? These stories are absurd and precarious in their unfolding, unimaginable yet common, and thus those at the station inevitably become puppets at the hands of God.

  • Best Direction (Student category), in 8th Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival (2019).

Click to view film stills

Chai Darbari by Prateek Shekhar

A search for ‘truth’ stumbles upon varied textures of conversations. Conversations carrying echoes from print, electronic, social media; redolent with the local atmosphere and the context of the city’s past. Since 1992 Ayodhya has been a crucial ground for electoral politics and debates. Unverified and politically motivated videos, circulated on an ever growing WhatsApp web, have complicated the issue a little more. These videos are one-way dialogic conversations, encoded with an ‘us versus them’ subtext. Parallel to this, all arguments around Ayodhya overlook multiple lived realities of the residents. While these realities transmute into endless conversations over chai (tea) in Ayodhya, the nature of the discourse is significantly different in the cities. ‘Chai Darbari’ is a small tapestry of a few such conversations. Chai Darbari was made as a part of 6-month filmmaking program, 'Moving Image: Open Form' (MIC) that ran in SACAC from January to June 2018.

  • Best Short Documentary, International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) (2019).

Click to view film stills

Jamnapaar by Abhinava Bhattacharyya

The film lurks on the river's edge seeking to explore how the inhabitants of the Jamuna relate to its degraded presence, the fragile nostalgia of an unknowable past and the horror of its unthinkable future.

  • Best Documentary (Golden Owl Award), Cut.In Students’ Film Festival, Mumbai (2017).
  • Excellence in Sound Design (Silver Owl Award) Cut.In Students’ Film Festival, Mumbai (2017).
  • Best Documentary, National Documentary & Short Film Festival, Thrissur (2018).
  • Best Editor, National Documentary & Short Film Festival, Thrissur (2018).
  • Best International Short Documentary, DFK New Wave Festival, Kolkata (2018).
  • Best Cinematographer Award, DFK New Wave Festival, Kolkata (2018).
  • Second Best Short Documentary, International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) (2018).
  • Toto Funds the Arts (TFA) Award for Best Short Film (2019).

Click to view trailer

After Word by Mallika Visvanathan

The film is an attempt to explore the world of objects and their relationship to time, value and memory. Set in Daryaganj, the film imagines the stories that are hidden, forgotten or left behind.

  • Best Documentary Award (National Competition), Filmsaaz, Aligarh Muslim University (2018).
  • Special Jury Mention, Alpavirama Asian Short & Documentary Film Festival, National Institute of Design (NID), India (2018).

Click to view trailer

A Distant Song by Anuradha Bansal

Nostalgia, banalities, expectations, the old and the new – A Distant Song explores life, hope and failure weaved through the stories of individuals set on the journey of music.

  • Honorable Jury Mention (Documentary section) at the 8th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival (2018).

Click to view trailer

Maine Dilli Nahi Dekha (I Am Yet To See Delhi) by Humaira Bilkis

The film is a subjective journey, exploring a new city. The filmmaker discovers the soul of the city not in its museums, mausoleums and architecture but in her relationship with its people. The process of looking at the urban space offers the filmmaker a chance to relook at her own space, identity and cultural moorings.

  • Special Mention Award, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan (2015).

Click to view trailer

Saatvin Khwahish (The Seventh Wish) by Varun Trikha

Jinns/Genies are the spirits made of smokeless fire. They live longer than humans and thus, can elongate and preserve historical memory. But are they real? Rekhti poetry, written from the early 18th to late 19th century in Islamic cities of Lucknow and Delhi, explicitly talked about the desires of women (including lesbian desires). Were those desires real? The film looks at the denounced Rekhti poetry through its survivors- Jinns and desires.

  • Best Director Award, 3rd National Student Film Awards (NSFA), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. Of India, Pune (2015).

Click to view trailer

Koi Dekhne Wala Hai? by Shilpi Saluja

This film explores the sense of touch and music in the lives of children in a residential school, looking at the way they connect to each other and the world around them. It invites us to listen to the gentle rhythms of their everyday life as they go about their usual routine.

  • Best Film Award, 12th edition, We Care Film Festival, Delhi (2014).
  • Best Editing Award, 4th Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival (2015).

Click to view trailer

Screenings and Exhibition

Festival Selections and Screenings

  • Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Japan
  • Pärnu International Film Festival, Estonia
  • Unishorts Film Festival, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films and Documentaries, Scotland
  • International Student Film Festival (ISFF), Pisek, Czech Republic
  • Travelling Film South Asia, Nepal
  • Toto Funds for the Arts (TFA), India
  • Dhaka International Film Festival, Bangladesh
  • Dharamsala International Film Festival, India
  • Experimenta International Festival of Moving Image Art, Bangalore, India
  • Undiplomatic Tales students’ film package at Kochi- Muziris Biennale, India
  • International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT), Delhi, India
  • Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), India
  • Women Making Films, a travelling festival across 10 states, India
  • Pickurflick.com Film Festival, Delhi & Bangalore, India
  • National Student Film Awards (NSFA), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (Government Of India), Pune, India
  • National Documentary & Short Film Festival, Thrissur, India
  • Urban Lens, Bangalore & Delhi, India
  • ViBGYOR International Film Festival, Thrissur, India
  • Voices from the Water- travelling film festival, India
  • Alpavirama Asian Short & Documentary Film Festival, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, India
  • Cut.In Students’ Film Festival, School of Media & Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India
  • Filmsaaz, Aligarh Muslim University, India
  • Bangalore International Film Festival, India
  • Delhi International Film Festival, India
  • Delhi Shorts International Film Festival, India
  • Delhi Doc Festival, India
  • International Film Festival of Prayag, India
  • Nashik International Film Festival, India
  • Laadli International Film Festival, India
  • Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival, India
  • Woodpecker International Film Festival, Delhi, India
  • We Care Film Festival, Delhi, India
  • Doosra Chashma- Travelling Campus Film Festival, Mumbai, India
  • Full On Film Festival, M.S. University, Baroda, India
  • Bangalore Queer Film Festival, India
  • South Asian Short Film Festival, Kolkata, India
  • DFK New Wave Festival, Kolkata, India
  • Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival, India
  • International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK), India
  • Clapsticks Students International Film Festival, Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, Kolkata, India
  • DocumentaMadrid, Spain
  • IAS International Film Festival, Sharjah
  • Leiden International Short Film Experience, Netherlands
  • Signs Film Festival, Thrissur, India
  • Rolling Reels Film Festival, Chennai, India
  • Global University Film Awards, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
  • Kolkata People’s Film Festival, Kolkata, India
  • One Earth Awards, India
  • Liftoff First-Time Filmmaker Sessions, Global Liftoff Network

Public screenings

  • Wajda Film School, Warsaw, Poland
  • Khoj International Artists’ Association, Delhi, India
  • Goethe-Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Delhi, India
  • Film Appreciation Course, Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, India
  • Department of Sociology, South Asian University, Delhi, India
  • Downstairs @S47, Panchsheel Park, Delhi, India
  • FD Zone, India Habitat Centre, Delhi, India
  • Lok Sabha TV, India

Exhibition

Footnotes on Documentary Practice: The Beginnings of Enquiry

(Image, Text, Sound based exhibition and film screenings at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, Delhi, August 2017):

The exhibition was a proposal for Unravelling, Gleaning and Fragmenting as modes of enquiry into documentary practice. The attempt was to fuel collective conversations and questions around seeing, framing, thinking and listening to the world and to ourselves, as practitioners of documentary and non-fiction film.

Spread over two days, the event was an attempt to pose some elementary questions and gestures at the ephemeral processes of making and witnessing in a landscape of wildly fluctuating truths. Do our responses require a new set of ethics as we manoeuvre this complex terrain? And what of our increasingly tenuous relationship to questions around reality and representations of it? The expectations from documentary tropes are shifting and there are few footholds for reinventing and unlearning. The exhibition was therefore an attempt to inhabit this place of difficulty and possible freedom, within this shift.

What is Documentary?

The understanding of documentary and the forms it can inhabit has been severely constrained for various reasons, particularly in pedagogy – resulting in a strange anomaly between filmmaking practice (that has an immense range and richness) and the teaching of it. We try to make a small move to rectify this. We look at documentary as being capable of much more than is commonly imagined, and suggest that the constraints just may be of our own making. Our aim is to nurture a re-understanding, a re-interpretation of cinematic practices where the reality around us becomes our ground for creation and expression. How do we engage, as human beings and as filmmakers to our personal, social and political realities? How do we perceive the world? How does our perception influence the perceived? Does our gaze not affect that which is looked at? How do we understand what we see? What are the stories that are thus born?

CDC is a place to learn not just filmmaking, but a little more about who you are. With a strong grounding in all aspects of film craft, we encourage our students to research, sharpen their insights and articulate their own points of view, as a way of searching for their individual voice. We work with the belief that all narratives, themes and subjects have been addressed by someone, somewhere, sometime. True originality lies in the filmmaker’s own perspective, her/his own unique position, reflections and perceptions. It is an exciting time to be a filmmaker as the possibilities are infinite.

Faculty

Sameera Jain, Course Director: Sameera has been a director and editor for over 30 years. She has edited numerous award-winning documentaries and also fiction feature films. Her directorial ventures have been recognised for cinematic excellence at many national and international film festivals. She mentors film students and filmmakers on diverse platforms and has taught filmmaking at various institutions, including her alma mater, the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Participation in film juries and curriculum formulation have been part of her engagement.

Click to view Visiting Faculty

Academic Council

Amar Kanwar is a filmmaker and a visual artist. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the Tate Modern, London and Minneapolis Institute of Art (2017-18), Goethe Institut Mumbai (2016) and the Assam State Museum in collaboration with KNMA, Delhi and NEN, Guwahati (2015). In 2012 and 2014 at the Art Institute of Chicago, USA; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, U.K.; TBA2 , Vienna and the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland. Kanwar has also participated in Documenta 11, 12,13 and 14 in Kassel, Germany (2002, 2007, 2012, 2017). He is the recipient of the 2017 Prince Claus Award, the Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art, Norway and an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts, Maine College of Art, USA. His films have received several awards like the Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, the Golden Conch, Mumbai International Film Festival, and Jury’s Award, Film South Asia, Nepal.

Avijit Mukul Kishore is a filmmaker and cinematographer based in Mumbai, working in documentary and inter-disciplinary moving-image practices. He is involved in cinema pedagogy as a lecturer at film and media schools across India and as a curator of film programmes at institutions including Films Division India, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum Mumbai and MAMI. His films as director include 'Snapshots from a Family Album', 'Vertical City', 'To Let the World In', 'Electric Shadows' and 'Nostalgia for the Future'. Many of these have been part of festivals and art fora such as Documenta, Berlinale, IDSFFK etc. His films as cinematographer include An Old Dog's Diary, Seven Islands and a Metro, John and Jane, Kali Salwaar, Made in India and Kumar Talkies.

Bina Paul graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) with a specialisation in editing. She has edited over 40 feature films and has worked with illustrious directors like G Aravindan, John Abraham and P N Menon. She is a recipient of two National Awards and numerous State Awards for editing. She was the Artistic Director of the International Film Festival of Kerala for fourteen years and has been instrumental in shaping it into an important international event. She has served on the juries of various international film festivals including those held in Locarno, Durban, Morocco and Berlin. She is currently the Joint President of NETPAC & Artistic Director of the International Film Festival of Kerala.

Gargi Sen is a filmmaker, curator, exhibitor, distributor and producer. She recently completed a Fulbright Fellowship for Academic and Professional Excellence at the UC Davis, California, USA. In 2011 she was awarded the Clore International Fellowship for Arts Leadership in UK. She is the co-founder of two arts organisations, Magic Lantern Foundation (est. 1989) and Magic Lantern Movies LLP (est. 2011) that she led. She has conceptualized, curates and executes different editions of the film festival Persistence Resistance in India and the world that explores new ways for audiences, filmmakers and cinema to engage. She is also a non-executive director of 4Cs, a London based arts charity.

Ira Bhaskar is Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She has critical interests in “historical poetics”, cinema and modern subjectivities, literature and film, film music, screen melodrama and historical trauma, violence, memory and representation. She has co-authored Islamicate Cultures of Bombay Cinema, and is currently working on a co-edited volume of essays, Bollywoods’s Islamicate Idioms, Cultures and Histories. She is also editing a volume of Ritwik Ghatak’s screenplays – Ghatak’s Partition Quartet and is working on her book on Trauma, Memory and Representation in Indian cinema.

Maya Rao is a theatre artist who has worked on and off stage for the last thirty-five years. She is particularly known for her solo performances that have a distinctive form and style. She collaborates with other artists to create multi media shows that she directs and performs in herself. She creates comedy built on current political events and popular issues. Maya’s shows have travelled to different parts of the world and she has been commissioned by well known theatre organisations to create new works. For several years Maya taught Acting in the National School of Drama, Delhi. Till recently she was professor at Shiv Nadar University where she designed and taught a Diploma programme – TEST - Theatre for Education and Social Transformation – a first in any institution of higher education in India.

Sherna Dastur is a graphic designer and filmmaker from the National Institute of Design where she has also been visiting faculty. Her film Manjuben Truck Driver was screened at various festivals and institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, New York. She has worked on a wide range of design projects for social campaigns, exhibitions, publications and films. She also makes handmade paper and has collaborated in the making of The Sovereign Forest by Amar Kanwar. Along with Samina Mishra, she is the co-author of My Sweet Home: Childhood Stories from a Corner of the City. She has designed several large format books on artists including Nilima Sheikh, multimedia projects like Cinema City and cultural spaces like The Freedom Theatre in Palestine, receiving Publishing Next awards in 2014 and 2017.

Student Work

Diploma Films

Location Films

Student Intellectual Property Law Policy

All students at Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication (SACAC) are requested to carefully read and adhere to the following policy pertaining to intellectual property:

I. The primary purpose of any ‘Student work’ i.e. any work which has been conceived/ created/made/prepared/ produced by the students of SACAC as a part of their class coursework/assignments/ projects or as individual projects irrespective of the fact whether the same was made on the premises of SACAC or elsewhere, whether with or without use of equipment available with SACAC or whether the same was made with or without extra funds, is only educational.

II. A ‘Student work’ so conceived and created may have some commercial value. However, such commercial or market value of the ‘Student work’ is the secondary purpose of the work.

III. The paramount objective of SACAC is to protect the interest of all the students as well as SACAC as a whole and therefore each ‘Student work’ would be subject to certain restrictions till the student(s) have completed his/ her coursework.

IV. The restrictions, which are being imposed, are solely to ensure that the educational experience of any student is not hindered. If students were to license, distribute, market or in any way exploit the ‘Student work’ they have created before the said work has served its educational purpose for which it was created, it would not only deprive the other students of working on the said work but would also obstruct the internal and external faculty at SACAC in giving proper guidance and supervision.

V. SACAC’s interest in the ‘Student work’ is limited only till the completion of the student(s) coursework and completion of the educational experience associated with such work until its usefulness as an educational tool is realized by SACAC. It is further clarified that this would not mean that the work be completed as there may be a scenario where the ‘Student work’ is incomplete but may have satisfied the educational purpose for which it was created.

VI. SACAC has no right, title or interest in the marketing or financial income derived from such ‘Student work’ once the student(s) has completed his/her coursework in all respects. The understanding and assessment of the `Student work’ being complete in all respects is to be done by SACAC authorities and is binding on all.

Therefore, all ‘Student works’ are subject to the following ownership conditions: 1. The student is the owner of the work that she/he has created.

2. All income/benefit from dissemination and distribution of any such ‘Student work’ after the realization of its educational purpose by SACAC shall belong to the student(s) who created the work.

3. The students who have worked on the ‘Student work’ are to be jointly and severally responsible for it. The onus is on them to ensure that it is an original work, which has not violated copyright or any other intellectual property rights of any other person/company. The students also undertake and ensure that they have formally obtained all permissions/approvals for use of any copyrighted material that is included in the ‘Student work’. The Students are also responsible to ensure that the ‘Student work’ is not inappropriate, defamatory, libelous or in contravention to the right of privacy or any other law.

4. The student(s) agree that any mentorship/help/counsel given by the faculty member(s) of SACAC in relation to the ‘Student work’ or in discharge of their normal course duties shall not be construed as: (a) creating any right in favour of the SACAC faculty member(s) in the said ‘Student work’ (b) hold SACAC or any of its faculty member(s) as the co-owner (c) creating any obligation or liability on SACAC or any of its faculty member(s).

5. Each student agrees to indemnify and hold SACAC harmless from and against any and all third party claims, actions or proceedings of any kind and from any and all damages, liabilities, costs, and expenses relating to or arising due to the breach of this policy by the student.

6. The student(s) who have created the ‘Student work’ undertake not to exploit the work in any manner including but not limited to sell, transfer, assign, license, distribute, market etc. except for entering such work into film festivals or such forums till each of the student(s) who have created or contributed to the ‘Student work’ has completed in all respects their coursework at SACAC. The Director Ms. Daljeet Wadhwa, of SACAC may use sole discretionary powers to waive these restrictions for any reasons considered appropriate by her. The students(s) also commit that that they will make the ‘Student work’ accessible to other students/ SACAC faculty or staff, with reference to their educational experience and coursework at SACAC.

7. The student(s) agrees to provide SACAC prints or other copies of such ‘Student work’ whenever requested by SACAC for any use by SACAC.

8. The student(s) agrees to grant SACAC the right to reproduce, display, or communicate to the public prints or other copies of such ‘Student work’ on any mode or medium, including but not limited to promotional activities of SACAC. Such right to reproduce would be without payment of any royalty or consideration of any kind to the student(s). SACAC undertakes not to license such prints or copies.

9. The student(s) also agrees not make any contract or commitment regarding the ‘Student work’ contrary to this policy or in derogation of the rights granted to the SACAC under this policy. The student(s) further agree to sign any document reasonably requested by the SACAC to confirm or enforce any of the rights granted to SACAC under this policy.

10. It is at the discretion of SACAC whether or not to put its name on any ‘Student work’.

News and Events Archive

In the eight years since the commencement of CDC, our students' films have been selected as India's entry to the Oscars, won several awards and have been screened at more than thirty prestigious film festivals, globally and in India.

Click to view our news and events archive.

Student Experience