Jole Dobe Na / Those Who Do Not Drown

A man leaning against a balcony railing and smoking a cigarette overlaid with red and white text.
still from the film JOLE NOBE DA

Naeem Mohaiemen’s film Jole Dobe Na / Those Who Do Not Drown (2020) was conceived in response to a prompt given by Delhi-based artist group Raqs Media Collective to think about the afterlife of caregivers. The film was commissioned in 2019 by the Yokohama Biennale and Bildmuseet Umea, and completed during the first months of the 2020 lockdown.  

In an empty hospital in Kolkata, a man faces protocols of blood, a subtly discriminatory office, and a vacant operating theater. His mind is on a loop of the last months of his wife’s life, when a quiet argument developed. When is the end of pharma-medical care; whose life is it anyway? They were an estranged couple, thrown back into intimacy by an unknown illness. Even in a dreamworld of his making, the paranoia of infection is twinned with a hesitant intimacy.

The film revisits themes from the earlier film Tripoli Cancelled (2017) — family unit as locus for pain-beauty dyads, abandoned buildings as staging ground for lost souls, and the necessity of small prevarications to keep on living. In Tripoli, the boredom of daily life is punctuated by letters to an invisible wife, and endless readings of Richard Adams’ dark children’s fable Watership Down (1972). In Jole, a looping memory of final days is obstinately kept alive by the husband, and the book readings are from Syed Mujtaba Ali’s stories of Europe between the two world wars.

The screening will be followed by a conversation with filmmaker Naeem Mohaiemen.

Free admission! Sponsored by the Institute for Comparative Modernities.

About the filmmaker

Naeem Mohaiemen combines films, photography, drawings, and essays to research utopia-dystopia slippage in decolonizing South Asia after 1945.  He is Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Head of the Photography Concentration at the School of Arts, Columbia University.