Under the text "Resurrecting Jatayu," a one-winged vulture is visible in midair. Several disembodied wings and wing-prosthetics dapple a forest scene, and in the foreground another vulture rises into the frame with a golden prosthetic wing. The entirety of the image is overlaid with semi-transparent gold circuitry.

Forest Tales: Resurrecting Jatayu, A collaborative Storytelling Event

a Speculative Cinema Episode by Anuj Vaidya 

February 12, 2021 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. RSVP here for Resurrecting Jatayu

Event Flyer is available here:

An exalted character in the Ramayana epic tradition, the vulture Jatayu is known for his courage and loyalty. When Ravana abducts Sita and whisks her away in his flying chariot, it is the fearless Jatayu who tries to stop him. An aerial battle ensues, but Ravana eventually prevails, chopping off Jatayu’s wing, disabling him from fight and flight, and eventually life itself. In this episode of the speculative cinema project, Forest Tales, Jatayu is resurrected with a prosthetic wing, only to face the extinction of his kind in the present. 

Vultures face a dire crisis in India right now, with three species becoming functionally extinct thanks to the use of a bovine painkiller called diclofenac. Our reanimated protagonist sets off in search of Sita and a solution to save his vulture-kin, only to realize that his prosthetic wing – colonized and traumatized by its military memories – has other plans for him. Can we help Jatayu and his wing imagine an alter-future? Join us for a session of performance, poetry, gaming, and collaborative storytelling, so we can wonder together about the queer utopias that are latent in our impaired landscapes and disabled ecologies.

Forest Tales is a queer, SF, ecofeminist retelling of the South Asian epic, the Ramayana, bringing the tradition out of the past, and into the present. As a speculative cinema project, it not only reimagines the epic but the cinematic form itself, drawing attention to the material and bodily facets of this medium. Rather than an energy-intensive industrial cinema that fetishes the screen, what emerges in Forest Tales is an artisanal cinema, invested in community and collaboration. Based on a range of sensory inputs including sound, text, and images, participants collectively co-create an ‘imagined’ cinema, based on characters from the epic. To learn more about the project, please visit: handspuncinema.wordpress.com

Anuj Vaidya is a teacher/student of performance/media and multispecies thinking, currently pursuing a PhD in Performance Studies at UC Davis. Deeply invested in process and collaboration, his practice is committed to challenging normativity, cultivating joy, and building community, with both human and more-than-human worlds.

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