Beyond the Lens: Documenting Cultures

Films and Photography
Panel Discussion
Thursday, 10th September 2020
From 6:00pm to 7:30pm (IST)


Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai and Avid Learning present a live online session with Filmmaker and Photographer Paul Saltzman in conversation with Journalist, Author and Founding Editor of ‘The Wire’ Sidharth Bhatia. In this session, Paul will refer to his own experiences both behind and beyond the lens to talk about how photography and film capture, portray and represent cultures and traditions around the world, demystify their subtle nuances and spotlight their unique characteristics and aspects. From capturing intimate photographs of the legendary rock band, The Beatles during their spiritual sojourn in India, to documenting ancient and lesser-known craft traditions and cultures from across the globe – Paul has engaged with and depicted a myriad of fascinating cultures over his vast body of work – unravelling their many layers, assessing their implications and celebrating their legacies. He will also offer an outsider’s perspective on the vibrant cultural character of India and explore its many distinct facets as observed through an international lens. This program will be presented as a part of a specially curated thematic week – Beyond the Lens: Documenting Visual Cultures and Narratives – that will take audiences on an insightful journey across the disciplines of film and photography engaging with aspects of storytelling, heritage, society and culture.


Tentative discussion topics/buckets:

 Engage with the following overarching points of discussion by displaying photographs from Paul’s body of work. (Beatles in Rishikesh + Shots from Spread Your Wings etc.)

·           Experiences behind and beyond the lens documenting cultures:

            The Beatles in India – amalgamation of two distinct cultures – Western Music and Indian Spirituality

            Outsider's perspective on Indian culture + observing culture through an international lens

            Spread Your Wings – documenting ancient and lesser-known craft traditions and cultures from across the globe

            Drawing a parallel between the many cultures you have interacted with

·           Understanding and engaging with the finer nuances of culture and its implications through photography and film

·           Background + on-ground research and gaining access to communities

·           Examining the power of the visual mediums in documentation and representation


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Sidharth Bhatia.

Sidharth Bhatia.

Journalist, Author and Founding Editor of ‘The Wire’

Sidharth Bhatia is a Mumbai-based journalist and author. He is the Founder Editor of The Wire and has written several books on cinema and popular culture. His Twitter handle is @bombaywallah.

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Paul Saltzman

Paul Saltzman

Filmmaker and Photographer

Paul Saltzman is a two-time Emmy Award-winning, Toronto-based film and television director-producer known for over 300 productions. He’s also known worldwide as an educator and mentor. After briefly studying Engineering Science, he did congressional civil rights lobbying in Washington D.C., and voter registration work in Mississippi with SNCC in the summer of 1965. He began his film and television career that same year at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a researcher, interviewer and on-air host, and then moved to the National Film Board of Canada. In 1967 he interviewed American inventor and visionary Buckminster Fuller, who would later say that he believed “the ‘60s generation was a lost generation,” until he met Saltzman. In 1968, he learned meditation at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India, an experience that changed his life. There, he photographed the Beatles, Mia Farrow, Donovan and Mike Love. In 1968-69 he assisted in the birth of a new film format as second-unit director and production manager of the first IMAX film, produced for the Osaka 1970 World's Fair. In 1969, he attended the Woodstock Music Festival, later producing a Leonard Cohen concert tour as well as producing and directing his first film, a documentary on Bo Diddley. In 1973, Paul founded Sunrise Films. He produced, directed, and wrote many documentaries over the next decade, including the acclaimed series Spread Your Wings. In 1983, he turned to drama, producing and directing the premiere of HBO's Family Playhouse and a special for American Playhouse. In the same year, he co-created and produced the family action-adventure television series Danger Bay. The hit CBC-Disney Channel series ran for 6 years and 123 episodes. He has produced television series like My Secret Identity, Matrix and Max Glick, as well as miniseries and MOW’s. He co-produced Map of the Human Heart, an international epic directed by Vincent Ward, starring Jason Scott Lee, Anne Parillaud, Patrick Bergin, John Cusack and Jean Moreau. He also executive produced Martha, Ruth & Edie as well as Sam & Me, which received an Honorable Mention in competition for the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2000, Viking Penguin released Paul’s first book, The Beatles in Rishikesh. In 2006 Paul created a deluxe Limited Edition Box-Set, The Beatles in India. In 2018, a 50th anniversary edition came out. In 2008, he made his feature-film directorial debut with Prom Night in Mississippi, a documentary with Morgan Freeman. It premiered in competition at Sundance in 2009. His 2nd feature documentary, The Last White Knight—Is Reconciliation Possible? featuring Harry Belafonte, Morgan Freeman and Byron (Delay) de la Beckwith, Jr. premiered in 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival. His most recent feature documentary ‘Meeting The Beatles in India,’ is executive produced by David Lynch, with Morgan Freeman narrating. In 2011, he founded the non-profit organization Moving Beyond Prejudice to work with police forces, students, youth-at-risk, and community and faith groups utilizing Prom Night in Mississippi and The Last White Knight. In December 2011, Paul was invited to the White House to screen his prom movie and hold a Moving Beyond Prejudice discussion with the audience. While there, he was honoured as a Community Leader at a reception with President Obama and the First Lady. He has taught and mentored over 100,000 people across Canada, the United States, and in 6 countries, in person and via the internet: On moving beyond prejudice; non-violent communication and conflict resolution; maximizing one’s creativity; meditation, mindfulness and personal fulfillment. The University of Toronto has collected his archives. Paul is a member of the Director's Guild of Canada and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. He loves travelling, skydiving, scuba diving, and playing ice hockey (often!).

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Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai
Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai

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