A Winter's Elegy
21 MINUTES 11 SECONDS | 2022
Poster, trailer and stills from A Winter's Elegy.
If clothes are memories, what does it make the rags? In the cast-off capital of Panipat in North India, the history of fabric is fused with that of its migrants. A young textile worker retells the modern history of the city, once known for its battles that changed the course of the South Asian subcontinent. Combining everyday images from in and around the wasteland on a single winter day, with personal anecdotes from the lives of those who grew up under the tin sheets of the industrial complex, the film essay ruminates on the memory of clothes and the desires of its female garment workers.
A Winter’s Elegy began as an ode to the clouds which came to the city in the summer of 2020 when the industrial complex was completely shut. Slowly it became An Ordinary Day, a short documentary which reminisced on the day textile workers were informed of the lockdown and how they tried to find their footing back a year after it. With genderalities fellowship, the film sometimes felt like an essay I was writing to myself by revisiting all those places I had grown up around and people who I had seen but never stopped to look at. And sometimes, it felt bigger than any of it, a slow observation which reflected upon the modern history of migration and fabric in textile cities. While shooting, the idea was for it to feel like a singular winter day, beginning at the powerplant where the workers from Purvanchal first arrived and traversing to the marketplaces in the old city and later to the factories where we see how the process of cloth recycling looks like. The memory of clothes and the pandemic are central to the plot. So much has changed in the city and yet everything feels the same. Tons of old clothes arrive from the harbour every evening and tons of new ones leave every evening. The cycle repeats itself.
About the artist
Aakash Chhabra studied Producing at Satyajit Ray Film & TV Institute, Kolkata. He is an alumnus of Locarno Documentary Summer School 2019, Ji.hlava Academy 2021, and Kyoto Filmmakers Lab 2021. He is presently a fellow at the International Film Business Academy of Busan Asian Film School (AFiS).
His films are about effeminate gestures and small desires, of what is not easily visible and what is left unsaid. His debut short Mintgumri (2021) premiered at the Dharamshala International Film Festival 2021 and got a Jury Commendation at the Toto Award for Short Film 2022. His short documentary An Ordinary Day (2021) won the Jury Mention at the Nagari Short Film Competition 2021 and was screened on the channel of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen as part of New Poetic Cinema in April 2022.
Concept, Script, Direction | Aakash Chhabra
Executive Production | Snigdha Sharma
Sound Design and Mix | Sethu Venugopal
Edit | Vedant
Voice Over | Pragya Jha
Translator and Additional Writing | Kumar Shivam
39th Tehran International Short Film Festival
45th Poitiers Film Festival in France
Dharamshala International Film Festival, 2022
Longlist, TOTO Short Film Awards, 2023