There are no words in Vinayan Kodoth’s films. There’s no need. With intense footage that is at once part of the action, yet somehow detached, he creates beautifully crafted films that evoke an intensely emotional response.
Most lauded of the writer and director’s work is the 2004 film, Journeys.
Set in Mumbai, or Bombay, it documents a hellish suburban train journey that sees seven million commuters literally dicing with death every day as they struggle to survive on the city’s overcrowded train network. Every year, almost 4,000 people are killed either falling off these trains or getting run over on the tracks. It is the grim reality of this daily survival of the fittest that is depicted to great effect in Vinayan’s film.
Part-funded by Amsterdam International Film Festival Journeys has been shown at 40 international film festivals and won six awards, including one at Geneva’s Human Rights Festival. It won Best Short Documentary at international documentary festivals in Madrid and Uruguay; Best Documentary at Ann Arbor Film Festival in the US; an Innovation Award at Chicago International Documentary Film Festival; and a Special Jury Award at Seoul’s EBS International Film Festival.
The film was screened at the Tate Modern in 2006, in a seminar about travel, and in Hull at the Humber Mud creative forum. It forms part of a compilation of short films available at: www.amazon.com/Full-Frame-Documentary-Shorts-Vol/dp/B0007TKNQ0.
Vinayan has taught BA (Hons) Filmmaking and Creative Media Production students at Hull School of Art and Design since 2007. He has a Postgraduate Diploma specialising in Writing and Film Directing from the Film and Television Institute of India, and an MA in English and Comparative Literature from Mangalore University, India. Between 1992 and 1996, he worked as a programme director in production houses in Mumbai and combines commercial work with his creative interests and teaching career. Past projects include short fiction films, Reflexive Maladies (1992) and Voices (1999), which were screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala and the International Film Festival of India)
Films made by Hull-based Filmmaking and Creative Media Production students have also won plaudits at the Royal TV Society Awards Yorkshire, at Prime Cuts festival in London and at Raindance film festival.
Vinayan’s current research project is a documentary he has been working on since 2009.
He says: “My creative documentaries are all about visual and sound exploration. They’re not really information documentaries. I’m trying to capture a certain reality in the play between sound and visuals to create a mood and an atmosphere.”
As in Journeys, travel and Vinayan’s Indian roots are the overlying themes in what will be a 35 to 40-minute film. This project looks at pilgrimage sites in India, the marketing of them and the play between the sacred and the profane.
Moving images? Undoubtedly.