“And since I don't believe in science, I believe very much in mysteries-- for instance an audience can help to make a picture which is already finished.” - French filmmaker Jean Renoir
“For those in Tamil Nadu, living outside Chennai, the only source of parallel cinema were the films on Doordarshan on Sunday at 12 noon,” says S. Kamala Kannan, President of the Cinema Club of Coimbatore (CCC).
“When I moved to Chennai after graduation, to work as an assistant film director, I was introduced to film clubs. Their films were entertaining yet realistic; a new experience,” he adds.
This made him start CCC, when he came back to Coimbatore in 2005. “We screen middle cinema to bridge the gap between commercial and art films,” explains Kannan.
CCC has discussions after their films. They also have associate film clubs in educational institutions.
“We don't get sponsors and we rely on student support. We organize festivals whenever any of us have cash,” says Kannan who's planning a Michael Moore festival, at their new premises in Singanallur, this month.
CCC charges Rs. 400 a year from its members. Students pay Rs. 300. While screenings are open to non-members, members can borrow DVDs from the club's library near Hope College. They also get confessional entry to film workshops and festivals. The club has around 600 films by greats like Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Majidi, Pen- Ek and Kim Ki- duk. They also assist short-film makers in production.
According to S. Anand, Secretary of Konangal Film Society, “Cinema, which was a community affair, is now a personal affair. But watching good cinema with a group on the big screen gives films new nuances.”
At a time when we can freely download critically acclaimed cinema off the Internet, Konangal screens films of the masters of cinema and, art documentaries on a big screen. They also give informative pamphlets about the films and the directors.
“We have done away with the discussions as it would be confined to a few people with biased views, leading to wrong interpretation,” says Anand.
Konangal has done retrospectives of directors like Kieslowski, Tarkovsky, Jacques Tati, and many others. They have also screened a series of documentaries on the masters of art. “Film appreciation leads to a demand for good movies,” adds Anand who's confesses he was “converted” into a film buff by an erstwhile film club of the city- Darshana.
“Back in 1978, Darshana screened Bergman, Kurosawa, De Sica and the French new wave,” reveals Anand who's been collecting rare films for 30 years now. He doesn't lend films, but screens them free.
Konangal charges Rs. 300 a year; that's Rs. 150 for students and Rs. 500 for couples. They screen twice a month at the Perks Mini Theatre in Co-operative Colony, off Trichy Road. They plan to increase this to three films and one documentary per month.
Another haunt of film lovers in the city is Goethe- Zentrum on Avanashi Road. Initially started for the development of German language, the Zentrum now screens contemporary, award- winning films doing the festival circuit.
They get their collection from Goethe- Institut, Kolkata and film connoisseurs among the expatriate German speaking community in Coimbatore. It includes children's films like the three adaptations Emil and the Detectives and, Flying Classroom. They show films twice a month, for free. Their book and film library also includes films of Turkish German filmmaker Fatih Akin. Akin had won the Golden Bear in 2004 for his film Head-On. Membership costs Rs. 1000 per year, and includes library facilities and cultural activities
“We show contemporary films on social and political life in Germany,” says Kristina Broens, an intern at the Zentrum. Their films deal with immigration, education and other social issues. They also screen period films and comedies.
The Zentrum is planning a series of film festivals this year. You can even discuss films on their facebook group. Check out the mind games in their lobby. If they like you, you may even get kartoffelsalat (potato salad).
While CCC and the Zentrum screen contemporary cinema and Konangal, the classics, Nai vaal concentrates on radical films. Defunct for about a year now this film club and social organisation plans to restart soon. You can check The Hindu MetroPlus Weekend's Your Week column for film club shows. The show must go on. For details: Cinema Club of Coimbatore: 9443578887; Konangal: visit konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.com or call 9443039630; Goethe-Zentrum: 9629942640; Nai vaal: 9443063988.