Avid movie buffs are trying to revive Rooftop Film Festivals

How many films can you watch into the night without a wink of sleep? And also have energy to participate in the post-film discussions and dissections, argue and analyse before yet another film begins and you do it all over again after every single film? If that's your scene, you will be perfectly at home at the Roof Top Film Festival — the open to all, many times a year, any time of the year event.

RTFF was a ritual movie buffs in Chennai and Bengaluru used to stick to at least once a month until the action died out like all other movements as opinion leaders shifted cities. The good news is that the festival is back, with a few movie buffs planning its revival over social networks. “This time however it has to be a collective effort as it was originally intended to be,” says Sandeep Makam, avid movie buff and partner of an ad agency.

He will be curating the first edition of reboot in September. “We were supposed to start in August but some of us got involved with the Anna Hazare movement. But that again only proves that it can't be an initiative by one or a few people. It has to be collective for it to sustain. If it's not me, there has to be someone else doing it.”

Sandeep is an old regular at Roof Top Film Festivals, an idea that was jumpstarted by blogger APP Ganesh a.k.a. Sagaro and his friends, who with the help of the Knowledge Foundation, organised a series of successful Roof Top Fests in 2007 and the initiative was promptly led by blogger and avid reader Divya Chakravarthy until April last year when she moved out of Chennai.

Ganesh, who is now in China, hopes to start a Shanghai chapter of the festival.

Thanks to Twitter, the interest in the festival was sparked off once again with Sandeep Makam (@sandeepmakam), film editor Vijay Venkataramanan (@vsnipz), singer Chinmayi (@chinmayi), entrepreneur Vijay Anand (@vijayanands), and Nishanth Radhakrishnan (@foodieinchennai) pledging support to the revival.

Each edition of the Roof Top Film Festival happens over a night with films of a specific theme or genre screened and discussed. The films used to be chosen on the basis of democracy bordering on anarchy from the films brought by individuals to the venue after being pitched at the group, depending on the mood of the group. But to create an environment of purposeful discussion, the organisers intend to have a monthly curator who will control the final list of films nominated by the group ahead of the event.

“We will be calling for a meeting this week to plan in advance for the first three months so that responsibilities are assigned to the curator of each month to source the films required,” says Sandeep. Every edition will have a theme — Thriller Night or All Westerns or Stoner Films or even a James Bond Edition or a retrospective tribute night. “It's a very intimate event compared to other festivals because it's always a small group of 30 people. It's also informal because you are not just sitting on a chair and watching. You just make yourself comfortable, roll around the mattress if you want, make yourself at home,” he adds.

“Campers are expected to pitch in their bit for the event. Active participation from everyone is expected. You can also lend equipment, provide a rooftop, help with the screening or help by blogging and podcasting about the event. No spectators, only participants,” as Ganesh APP says. The campers also split the total cost incurred in organising the festival. It usually works out to about Rs. 200 per person. Films are nominated over Google Groups (http://groups.google.com/group/RTFF/).

To promote local talent, the festival will also screen short films longer than 10 minutes (that cannot be watched on Youtube) in between feature length films. To be a part of the collective or submit screeners of your short film, join the Google Group or ping any of the members on Twitter.

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