Arthouse outfit Mubi has debuted the first trailer for director Rahul Jain’s upcoming documentary film Invisible Demons, which chronicles the lives of a handful of people as they navigate environmental decrepitude and dystopian summer-time weather in India’s capital New Delhi. Invisible Demons will arrive on Mubi next month, after a globe-trotting festival tour that took the film to Cannes, London, Seattle, Zurich, Mumbai, Athens and Helsinki.
The minute-long trailer presents near-abstract images of the Indian capital, home to approximately 30 million people, as serene music plays over shots of fires and garbage dumps. We see glimpses of chemical waste floating above the river Yamuna, and a quick shot of a person sitting on a ledge, wearing a protective mask. Amid all this, we see a shot of children celebrating Diwali, and another shot of women offering prayers in the toxic waters of the river.
“What the Lord has given us, we have totally destroyed… We humans have done it,” a voice says in Hindi. Another voice adds in English, “For the last 30 years, India has been projected to be the world’s fastest growing economy, but I wonder who objectively benefits from this growth?”
The effects of climate change can be felt all over the world, but in New Delhi — one of the most densely populated cities on the planet — the stakes are astronomical. In the summer, temperatures consistently soar over 110 F, peaking at almost 120 F. And in the winter, the capital is engulfed by a dense smog — a toxic cocktail of pollution from industries, Diwali fireworks, and smoke produced by a process known as “stubble-burning” in the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana.
Director Jain, who previously helmed the documentary Machines, told Deadline that he has always been fascinated by the relationship between humans and nature. In his own words:
“I wanted to explore how artists in the last hundred years of filmmaking have been able to communicate our species’ relationship to the natural world, because the most drastic changes came about in the 20th century, which was also the century of cinema. I wanted to investigate whether my theories about this could be made into a film.”
Another Delhi-set documentary, All that Breathes, won the L’Œil d’or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Invisible Demons will land on Mubi on October 4. You can watch the trailer here, and read the film’s official synopsis down below.
Told through striking images and eye-opening accounts from everyday citizens, Invisible Demons delivers a visceral and immersive journey through the stories of just a few of Delhi’s 30 million inhabitants fighting to survive. Invisible Demons offers a deeply experiential and new perspective on its subject: the clear and present climate reality. Jain engages the senses by directly stimulating our desire to live in a world with equitable access to clean air and water. Is it possible to imagine this future in Delhi, in India, or anywhere in the modern world?