The Chennai International Film Festival scrapped the category for short film last year citing poor response

The film opens with visuals of breathtaking landscapes of a village near Pollachi, capturing rustic roads and lush fields. It films the life of a postman who is fighting loneliness in a village that has begun to embrace newer modes of communication.

The movie (‘The Postman'), which was a college project for B. Manohar, won him this year's National Film Award in the Best Non-Feature Film category.

The film has already earned accolades in film festivals of 10 countries. But the global attention did not prompt Mr. Manohar to continue his career in short filmmaking.

He has shelved his plans to make short films and now works as an assistant director to Dharani for a Telugu movie.

‘No commercial viability'

“Short films, unfortunately, don't have any commercial viability. When many don't even know that I have won a national award, how can I expect them to watch my film?” asks Mr.Manohar.

For a city that has been zealously celebrating larger-than-life heroes and racy entertainers, short films are not seen as an ideal entertainment option. The Chennai International Film Festival scrapped the competition category for short film last year citing poor response.

“We have not yet decided about including the short film in competition category this year. We have been receiving a lot of requests, but the entries are sometimes sub-standard,” says E. Thangaraj, secretary of Indo-Cine Appreciation Foundation, which is co-organising the festival.

A few years ago, when Ramachandra Babu introduced ‘cineku', a three-films-in-a-minute format that drew inspiration from cinema and Japanese three-lined poems Haiku, there was no right platform to stage his innovation.

“I floated my films on Youtube and now it has gained enough popularity for others to follow suit,” says the Kerala-based cinematographer and feature filmmaker.

For someone with decades-old experience in feature films, Mr. Babu says the commercial proposition has discouraged professional filmmakers from venturing into the genre.

‘One can experiment'

K. Hariharan, Director, L. V. Prasad Film and TV Academy and producer of ‘The Postman,' says that short films nurture the art of story telling among young filmmakers.

If brevity is a strong point of short films, the eloquence of storytelling is an added strength. “This is a genre where one can experiment with narratives. Leading Hollywood directors set off their careers as short filmmakers. But the city, unfortunately, is not a good launch-pad for those directing short films.”

Documentaries and short films are the most effective way to send across social messages, according to Prasanth Kanthur, a journalist and a short filmmaker. All his six films including the recent one ‘Aval' have strong awareness messages running throughout.

‘Niche genre'

“Film festivals abroad have given me visibility but it is still a niche genre. It is time people began to take it seriously.”