For film buffs who keep a tab on the list of international film festivals in the city, there is more to weekends than flipping television channels.

Catching up with classics at film screenings held regularly at foreign cultural centres and libraries have become a part of the weekend routine for many of them.

With screenings of films becoming afrequent affair, the best-rated foreign classics are no longer out of bounds for those who have a penchant for them. If film festivals bring in some of the popular new releases, the periodical screenings at such places feature a perfect blend of not-so-popular classics and much-celebrated movies.

What started as an occasional activity in many libraries and cultural centres has now become a routine schedule. Following the growing response from film aficionados, a few foreign cultural centres in the city have increased the frequency of open-to-all film screenings while others are scouting for bigger auditoriums to accommodate its eager audience.

Alliance Francaise, for instance, is in the process of upgrading its auditoriuminto a 250-seater. “We have been doing thematic screenings every month. The movies will be spread out for a week and we have not restricted ourselves to only French films,” says Tara Rhine, the cultural coordinator of Alliance Francaise.

At recent screenings at the Alliance, films were grouped under the themes ‘French Connection,’ ‘Documentaries’ and ‘Environment’. In August, it would be a Bollywood bonanza marking the Indian Independence day. To encourage the art of film appreciation among students, Alliance will start a Movie Club in September, which will have movie screenings every Friday. “Film enthusiasts will talk about the movies screened to foster greater student participation ,” says Ms.Rhine.

If some screenings draw people by mere word-of- mouth, others attract audience with their extensive announcements. While Alliance sends e-mails to nearly 3,000 people for every screening apart from distributing posters, movies featured at ‘Saturday Matinee’ at the American Library are sent as text messages (SMS).

Film screenings at the Goethe-Institut began five decades ago. As the size of the audience grew, the Institut chose the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce theatre for their monthly movie screening. “We screen 40 to 50 films every year. The films will be selected from the movie archive that we have at our Kolkata Centre,” says Geetha Vedaraman, programme coordinator, Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan.

The Russian Cultural Centre, which conducts only a couple of film festivals every year marking important events in Russia, will follow suit, by organising regular Tamil and Russian film screenings. They will be preceded by short talks by actors and filmmakers from both the countries. To be held in coordination with the Indo-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the event will be a way to strengthen cultural ties between the countries, P.Thangappan, the Chamber secretary said.

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