(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., March 4, 2012) – Sanjiban Sellew was remembered fondly at a celebration of his life and work this afternoon at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, where a crowd seemingly well in excess of 500 flocked to pay tribute to the late filmmaker, master cabinet maker and woodworker, and all-around eccentric, as well as to raise funds for his family to help defray costs incurred over the last few months. Sellew was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in December 2011, and died last Tuesday, February 28, 2012, at his New Marlborough home.
The event, titled “Restless Rascal: A Sanjiban Celebration,” adopted the spirit of he who was being memorialized. While touching and poignant, there was much more laughter than tears over the course of the two-hour presentation, which included a retrospective of Sellew’s short films, several readings of his work (read by actor Rudi Bach), and reminiscences of his life by his friend and filmmaking partner, Sam Mills, and his twin brother, John Sellew, who together with Sanjiban made up the triumvirate of creative talents known collectively as Konkapot Big Boys.
Even those who did not know Sanjiban Sellew personally got a clear sense of his offbeat perspective, childlike innocence and mile-wide mischievous streak through his films and stories, one of which recounted stealing traffic cones on behalf of his guru, Sri Chimnoy, who named him Sanjiban and handed him the Super 8 camera that he would wield for the next 30-odd years in the service of “entertaining” people, to paraphrase Chimnoy.
And entertain he did. But not only entertain. There was clearly an edge to Sellew’s mischievousness. Authority of all kinds – including Chimnoy’s – comes up for gentle mockery in much of Sellew’s work, nowhere more so than in The Fight That Never Ends, a short film which in its entirety features Sanjiban in a Sisyphean, absurd, yet downright rib-tickling boxing match with an invisible God.
A match, one presumes, that he continues to engage in wherever he is today.