A white man with blonde hair laying on a stained striped pillow looking up at the camera, pensively.

A Hundred Schools of Thought

Onyeka Igwe, Ruchir Joshi, and Trinh T. Minh-ha
Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 6PM
  • Specialised Technique (2019)
  • By Onyeka Igwe

Specialised Technique is one of a trio of films made with images from the British Colonial Film Unit archives of the Aba Women’s War of 1929, the first major anti-colonial protest to British authority in West Africa, and a struggle led specifically by women. Onyeka Igwe’s own film delves deep into the technique of the Colonial Film Unit’s practice, and draws out how certain actions and gestures, like sequences of West African’s dancing, propagandized a positive image of British rule. A methodical and at times joyful reflection on questions of how, why, and for whom such images are produced, Igwe in turn develops her own filmic language in the reframing of these archival images in direct resistance to the violence of the colonial gaze.

  • Tales from Planet Kolkata (1993)
  • By Ruchir Joshi

Filmed in 1990s Calcutta, India, Tales from Planet Kolkata is a sharply canny satire on the city’s continued portrayal by the western media as a “black hole” and “the worst place in the world.” As lovingly photographed as it is acutely observed, the film is shot through with references from Godard to Hollywood, opening with Ruchir Joshi’s take on Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, as the director leads us on a riotous journey through the city along with a local Patua (a traditional Bengali scroll painter) and an African American video artist. In search of answers to perennial questions of cultural identity and belonging, Tales was originally commissioned by the UK’s Channel 4 television to shift the perspective of the dominant western gaze towards that of the global south.

  • Shoot for the Contents (1992)
  • By Trinh T. Minh-ha

Shoot for the Contents is a richly layered documentary that hinges on the protests that sparked the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Trinh T. Minh-ha draws out the expansive relationship between images, sounds, and the process of filmmaking itself in order to translate the complex motifs of Chinese allegory through the moving image. Titled after a Chinese guessing game, Shoot for the Contents delicately layers the voices of women artists and philosophers with Chinese music in an intimate meditation on Mao’s iconic phrase: “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend.” All the while questioning conventions of the documentary format and questions of veracity in terms of political representation, structures of power, and the production of cultural identity.

Refreshments will be served.

Main Image: Ruchir Joshi, Tales from Planet Kolkata (1993). Courtesy the artist and Arsenal-Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V.

An African woman flipping her hair, blurred in motion as people behind her look on.

Onyeka Igwe, Specialised Technique (2019).

Courtesy the artist
An African woman wearing her traditional dress, white text Is it why I look down?

Onyeka Igwe, Specialised Technique (2019).

Courtesy the artist
Two Japanese women standing amongst geometric sculptures  of various sizes.

Trinh T. Minh-ha, Shoot for the Contents (1992).

Courtesy the artist and Women Make Movies

Dates + Tickets

A Hundred Schools of Thought
Onyeka Igwe, Ruchir Joshi, and Trinh T. Minh-ha
Wednesday 12
6:00 PM
February 2020
$10 / RPI Students: in advance $6, same day FREE
As part of
Presented By

EMPAC Spring 2020

Event Type



EMPAC Spring 2020 presentations, residencies, and commissions are made possible by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts; and Vlaamse Gemeenschap, department of Culture, Youth, and Media.