‘Hi, would you like to do OOFF again?’
asked Charu Maithani, from Khoj International Artists’ association.
The last OOFF (Our Own Film Festival) was held in September 2012, when Aazar Anis, Shaheen Ahmed and I, decided to call all our filmmaker friends and ask if they would like to show their movies on a tiny DDA flat’s roof. When 40 people, most of whom we didn’t know, turned up, watched movies and stayed for over four hours, we knew that we had hit upon something.
But that was then.
5 months later, OOFF had run into trouble. With full time jobs and countless projects, we just couldn’t find the time to curate films. And there was a lack of space. The roof worked the first time round, but what if more people turned up next time?
Charu’s call was the lifeline OOFF need. A large roof, in chaotic Khirkee (urban) village of Delhi, in a brand new building constructed to let people work and display art. They would even serve chai and samosas. But there was a catch, we had two weeks to collect, watch, select and show the films. Two weeks during one of the business periods of our lives.
With the help of a facebook event page, countlessly sharing updated from the page onto our own walls, Shaheen’s constant badgering of people at film related forums, groups and websites, we hoped we would be able to collect something. Something that would attract people like it had done before.
Three days of relentless link sharing, countless phone calls and obsessively refreshing pages, our fist film arrived in dropbox. And then, OOFF caught fire again. In a week, we had collected two hours of film with filmmakers eager to come and be part of the event. Documentaries, short films, experimental shorts and digital art, there was a little of everything in our inboxes.
On the 1st of March, we finally got the projector working and started the screenings. We had hoped to start at 6pm, but the spring sun took a little longer to set. While the chai and samosas did their thing, when the screenings started half an hour late, we had over 75 from across the city waiting to be part of OOFF. It a response we didn’t expect.
Running from 6:30 to almost 10 in the night, OOFF showcased work from and around Delhi, giving us access to work that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, giving artists of all sort, an informal place to show their work and discuss it with their audiences. It reminded us of why we had started OOFF in the first place.
We’re already getting calls on when we want to hold the next OOFF and at this point we don’t have a date or a venue. But stay tuned, we’ll be doing one real soon.