Family Album is a powerful meditation on the tangled relationship between memory, history, and the photograph, and is a companion piece to Jain’s earlier City of Photos, an exploration of the little-known world of neighborhood photo studios which was an audience favorite at 3rd i’s SFISAFF 2006. Jain interviews members from some of Calcutta’s oldest families as they page through family albums and portraits in their ancestral homes. Jain elicits some astonishing stories – a wife whose husband photographed her in men’s clothing, a romantic portrait of a man and his dead wife, images of women studying, dressing-up, playing music – as they negotiate the lines between freedom and enclosure. Family Album is ultimately an evocative, rewarding film that showcases Jain’s innovative use of storytelling in documentary as a way to capture the imagination. Jain’s films have been shown extensively in Europe and in India, and her documentary Lakshmi and Me (3rd i’s SFISAFF 2009) was featured on PBS’ Independent Lens Film series.
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September 23 2012