05.06. – 20.10.2021

Film Screenings at the Exhibition 'Cloak and Dagger: India's Fictional Times'

Zuzeum Art Centre invites visitors to the exhibition “Cloak and Dagger: India’s Fictional Times”, to look at India through the eyes of French film director Natasha de Betak.

The madness of her protagonists borders on holiness or – vice versa. This is how they escape the world, which at any moment is ready to crash over their heads. Or – perhaps that’s how they save the world. 

Natasha de Betak was born and is based in France. She studied cinematography in Budapest and New York and has worked in Moscow and Mexico, among other places. In India, de Betak spent ten years filming: “I had a dream of filming in India because they have a very special attitude to time: the word kaal (kālá) is used to refer to both yesterday and today.” 

De Betak became acquainted with India’s new wave directors and started working in the film industry. She made her film Kaal and designed costumes for the films Samsara and The Valley of Flowers and, together with the Indian filmmaker Pan Nalin, worked on the film Ayurveda: Art of Being. Her work was lauded at the Sundance Film Festival and the Fine Arts Museum in Boston. According to de Betak, it is the protagonists who prompt the style of each of her films: “It so happens that stories, people, and moments, from the moment of their birth, possess their own cinematographic style.” De Betak works very closely with her protagonists, practically gluing herself to them and attaching special significance to details. “I wanted people to feel the power of Kali, the odor of burning bodies, the barking of dogs at night, the sound of prayer drums and bells – all that I experienced.” 

Two of de Betak’s films can be seen at the Zuzeum exhibition “Cloak and Dagger: India’s Fictional Times.” A ticket to the exhibition includes a screening. 

You can also watch the films at home at your convenience. They are available here below at zuzeum.com.

To play the videos on our website, you need a code from your exhibition ticket.

Suitable for a person who has reached at least 13 years of age.

2183 Days

A film by Natasha de Betak
2016, 25 minutes

A cinematic observation, spanning 2183 days, of the holy man Nagnath Baba, who was on a hunger strike to save the sacred river Ganges. As his body deteriorated year after year, he was haunted by visions and nightmares. Yet, life went on around him and his temple. His only nourishment came from his prayers and rituals. On day 2183, starvation finally claimed the holy man’s body, but the river continues to flow. 

Speaking Tree

A film by Natasha de Betak
2007, 65 minutes

This is the extraordinary story of five years in the life of a man by the name of Deva. While herding camels in a desert in northwestern India, he lost his mind. Then, for several years, he was tied to a tree in the village where he lived. His wife left him; only his mother remained to take care of him. Then, a powerful earthquake shook the area of Deva’s village; thousands of people lost their lives, millions became homeless, but Deva recovered his mind and got a new lease on life. 


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