The Kolachi Brothers, 2018, video, 22 minutes 23 seconds
The Kolachi Brothers, made in collaboration with the Tentative Collective, was shot by the Sindhi kuli workers of Cantt Railway Station in Karachi. They all hail from the the Kolachi family, from villages in the interior of Sindh in and Ghotki, approximately 500 km north west of Karachi. The Kolachi Brothers, as they call themselves, work as porters and rarely step foot beyond the station; they live and sleep on the platforms. When they’ve earned enough money, they take the same trains they service to visit their families in their villages. Although Karachi is technically in the same province as their homes in Ghotki (Sindh), the way the Kolachi brothers navigate urban space is that of itinerant workers, and other migrants to the city.
In working with the Tentative Collection to create this film, the Kolachi Brothers were exercising a means of control over their representation on camera–there is a deliberate display of playfulness that is starkly contrasted by the pathos of their music, a tragic sensibility a privileged viewer of these films would expect to be satiated. In weaving between musical performance, skits, and footage more akin to testimonial, the Kolachi Brothers’ suggest that this film is their means of taking control of their narrative. They consider how their audience will react to the film emotionally, how effectively their film will touch the hearts of its viewers, how the film will utilize both comedy and truthful storytelling, how the film might serve as a document of their time spent working at Cantt Station; ultimately the film captures both the joyful and melancholic moments between shifts in which the Kolachi Brothers are free to express their truth and story of their lives.
SCREEN: Community Cinema from Karachi to Los Angeles brings together two community cinema initiatives whose work reflects the cultural infrastructure of the cities they operate in. Mera Karachi Mobile Cinema, a project of the Tentative Collective, works with residents of Karachi, Pakistan, to produce films made entirely of mobile phone footage, enabling its collaborators to share their daily lives using a cheap and improvisational technology. The Echo Park Film Center is a microcinema in Los Angeles’s Echo Park neighborhood that teaches and empowers members of the community to view and create films. This screening includes work by both organizations that reflects cinema as a tool for expressing the narratives of immigrant communities whose notion of place, security, and citizenship is in constant flux.
SCREEN: Community Cinema from Karachi to Los Angeles is organized by Nevin Kallepalli