Residing in the Borderlands

For the sixth session of our film series Residing in the Borderlands we are thrilled to have Rita Sonal Panjatan with us to present a film connecting her memories of growing up in her father’s mime school in Berlin and the changes to the city after reunification. Rita was born in West Berlin in the 1980s. Her cultural influences were shaped by her German mother’s love for classical European culture and her Indian father’s background as a mime-artist with roots in Indian cinema of the 1950s and 60s. 

She explains her choice of film as follows: 
Shree 420 is a milestone of Indian cinema. The style mirrors Italian ‘Neorealismo’, and it unfolds as a parable of belonging, classism, morality and the hope for a better society. Centered around a Chaplinesque figure of the ‘Tramp’, the film has become iconic across Asia, Russia and the Middle East since its premiere in 1955. It stands today as one of the finest films from the fabled ‘Golden Age’ of Bollywood. During my childhood its songs and themes blended with my personal experience of Berlin, the persona of the 'Tramp' blurring with memories of my own father and his identity as a mime and an eternal migrant in a city full of artists.” 

Rita Sonal Panjatanis a researcher and artist. She was first trained in Berlin as a classical singer, before moving to London to study social sciences at SOAS and at the LSE. After returning to Berlin, she worked on various film projects as an actress, director, and production assistant. Currently she is a researcher for the ‘Culture Coaches’ project at the Zohre Esmaeli Foundation in Berlin. Prior to that, she has worked at Transparency International and the Barenboim Said Akademie.  Her interests lie in exploring the interconnections and expressions of culture, art and belonging, as well as the historical and economic foundations that underwrite the systems we operate in.