Lack of avenues to reach films to audience is a major concern of film-makers

“A movement is necessary to change the common perception that documentaries are boring and intellectual,” said Madhusudan Shi, director of the short documentary ‘The Golden Girls.'

“Only such festivals showcase our films and this condition needs to be changed,” he said during the discussion forum on “Who do we make our films for?” on the penultimate day of the fifth International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala on Monday.

The nine directors present at the meet delved into the subject with opinions ranging from the general problem of the lack of ample avenues to showcase their productions to the directors' personal ideas and perceptions being the key components of any film.

“Whatever you want to explore, you can,” said Chiranjith Ghosh, an animator from Bangalore. That the experiences a director undergoes becomes a part of his psyche and subsequently develops into an urge to convey that idea in the form of a film was a strain of thought that figured during much of the discussion.

Vandana Kohli, who directed the documentary ‘The Subtext of Anger,' added, “a film-maker may produce something that's intense and difficult to confront, but even if 10 to 20 people in an audience of, say, 200 people, can connect with the film and feel affected by it, I would say my job is done.”

Commercial success

The rift between the aesthetic and the commercial also arose during the discussion, with a few directors pointing out that it was difficult to generate money via documentaries as they were barely watched. Mr. Shi said that there were more sympathisers now and it was a field that was not totally neglected anymore.

Both Ms. Kohli and Geethika, director of ‘Wat(ev)er,' emphasised that there was an audience in India interested in documentaries but the problem was the lack of platforms to showcase them. “We make films, so that they are viewed and so people can connect to them and be influenced by them and so initiatives like this film festival are very important,” said Ms. Kohli.

The equation is far from complete without the audience was an idea that was harped on during the latter half of the discussion. Kaushal Oza, who directed the short fiction film, ‘Afterglow' said, “There is a need to figure out a target audience and communicate to them. Unless a film reaches out to the audience, the expression is not complete.”

C.V. Satyan, director of the documentary ‘Blazing Course,' added that the integrity of the documentary-maker should also be considered. Despite this being a medium that did not have the constraints of long feature films, many documentaries that were screened were tainted with vested interests or with the sole purpose of it winning an award.

He cited the example of a documentary on endosulfan. “The only reason the government did not interfere was because it only discussed the plight of victims and didn't investigate the role of the culprits,” he said.