Issue-based screenings with critical appreciation sessions in the offing
Apart from screening nearly three dozen documentaries, the Public Service Broadcasting Trust will lay special emphasis on discussion of different aspects of film-making at its five-day annual film festival and forum of short films at India International Centre here beginning September 7.
Every year PSBT uses documentaries in English language to seriously raise issues as well as have a threadbare discussion on social, political and human concerns. “Open Frame” will see screening of films by known names like M. S. Satyu, M. K. Raina and Santosh Sivan.
According to PSBT managing trustee Rajiv Mehrotra, the documentaries touch different yet important contemporaneous subjects like freedom of expression, agrarian concerns and terrorism. Besides heavy subjects, the films also celebrate rich cultural and spiritual traditions. “This year, film-maker Santosh Sivan has produced a wonderful film, A Farmer from Kuttanad, highlighting problems faced by a farmer. We have a film on terrorism based on Azamgarh. There is another film titled The Right to Live on capital punishment by Satyu. We also have a film on choreographer Saroj Khan, Women’s Peace Keeping Force and schizophrenia.”
He says a big geographical representation will give the twelfth edition of the festival different flavours. Films from the northeast will be screened. “Films on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the northeast have been made in the past and shown in our annual festival. I do not think we have a film on AFSPA this year.”
Apart from screenings, the festival will put the spotlight on film appreciation workshops. “In these workshops, we will have a comprehensive discussion on what makes a good film. A number of youngsters attend these workshops. Basically, we tell them which are the elements that contribute to making a good film. Special importance will be given to discussions which will give the audience an opportunity to raise pertinent questions and get an instant reply from the film-maker. This will create long-term involvement among cinema lovers. Through these interactive workshops we get to know the perception of the film-going audience and how far we have succeeded in communicating the message.”
With Osian-Cinefan Film Festival coming to Delhi after a sabbatical of two years and a Delhi International Film Festival to be held later this year, Rajiv feels this augurs well for aspiring film-makers. “In Delhi, we already have an infrastructure in place for television productions. Production centres are growing in different parts of the country. Earlier, these centres existed in Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi. But now we have them as far away as Assam and Kerala.”
Rajiv is proud of the fact that quite a few awards were presented to PSBT for its films on the occasion of the 59 National Film Awards-2011. “This is the reason why we make our own films. Unfortunately, media focuses on pretty Bollywood actors and not on our films.”
The films articulate varying relationships that people share with the world around them and with the State as political subjects. They deal with the role of the surveillant State debating the idea of a democracy, understanding the politics of food, exploring the invisibilisation of certain groups of people and celebrating rich cultural and spiritual traditions.