Birha (Absence)

A pack of dogs sit on dusty earth against a backdrop of yellow/orange mist. Laying in the foreground on the right is the skeleton of a an ox.

In-house screening captioned for d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing viewers
Optional SDH captions available for online screening

‘Birha’ is the grief, agony and anguish of separation, derived from Punjabi Sufi Poetry. Guided by Birha poetry, the film captures the pain and lamentation caused by separation.

“In a faraway village called birha, missing people, mothers and tired lovers yearn to see beyond the mist.”

birha is the grief, agony and anguish of separation, derived from Punjabi Sufi Poetry. Guided by Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s birha poetry, the film captures the pain, lamentation and yearning caused by separation. The film searches for missing people, who left their homes to work in faraway cities, and have still have not returned. The locations are not marked, characters are not named, birha situates itself in a season of waiting and a climate of uncertainty.

Ekta Mittal is a filmmaker and co-founder of the Bangalore-based media arts organisation, Maraa. She has a background in literature, media studies and film.

Ekta has been working at Maraa since 2008 as a researcher, curator and facilitator around issues of gender, labour & caste in rural and urban contexts. Her films are around labour, migration and cities. Her recent film Absence (Birha) is about grief, loss and disappearances, in the context of migration. Her interests range from poetry, painting, folk music to insects, flowers and properties of light.

2018, India,  80mins
Directed by Ekta Mittal
English & SDH subtitles available

Tickets available on a pay-what-you-can sliding scale:
£5 / £3.50 / £2 / Free

Watch at Cample:

Sunday 23 January

Watch Online:

23 - 30 January

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Introduction from Carmen Thompson

Watch an introduction to ‘birha’ from Film at Cample Programme Associate, Carmen Thompson