The first teaser for Rahul Jain’s new documentary Invisible Demons, which follows a small group of people as they deal with environmental decay and apocalyptic summer weather in India’s capital city of New Delhi, has been released by arthouse distributor Mubi. After making the festival rounds in locations as diverse as Cannes, London, Seattle, Zurich, Mumbai, Athens, and Helsinki, next month Invisible Demons will make their way to Mubi.
Nearly abstract views of the city of 30 million people in India’s capital are shown in the trailer’s minute runtime, which also features scenes of fires and trash heaps to soothing music.
There are brief shots of a person sitting on a ledge while wearing a protective mask and of chemical trash adrift in the Yamuna River. Within this context, we observe ladies praying in the polluted river water and children enjoying the Diwali holiday. A voice states in Hindi, “What the Lord has given us, we have entirely ruined… We humans have done it.” ‘For the previous 30 years, India has been expected to be the world’s fastest expanding economy, but I wonder who objectively benefits from this growth,’ an additional voice says in English.
New Delhi is one of the world’s most populous cities, hence the consequences of climate change there have enormous global implications.
Summertime highs average over 110 degrees Fahrenheit and sometimes get as high as over 120 degrees. A hazardous mix of pollution from factories, Diwali fireworks, and smoke from a practice called “stubble-burning” in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana envelops the capital city every winter. Machines director Jain told Deadline that he has always been interested in the dynamic between humans and their natural surroundings. As he puts it himself: Since the twentieth century was also the century of cinema, I was interested in learning how filmmakers over the past century have portrayed humanity’s place in nature. I was wondering if there was any way to put my ideas on this into a movie.
This year’s L’il d’or at the Cannes Film Festival went to All that Breathes, a documentary also set in Delhi. On October 4, Invisible Demons will touch down on Mubi.
A visceral and engaging journey into the experiences of some of Delhi’s 30 million people battling for survival, Invisible Demons is filled with arresting photos and illuminating anecdotes from common individuals. The climate change reality is front and centre in Invisible Demons, which presents a fresh and immersive take on the topic. By appealing to our emotions, Jain makes us long for a future where everyone has easy access to clean water and air. Can we even conceive of such a future existing in present-day Delhi, India, or the rest of the world?