Participants of a Film Appreciation Course learnt how to appreciate cinema and the dynamics of filmmaking. Bhawani Cheerath

Is entertainment the main function of cinema? Or, is it a cultural product, a commercial enterprise and a form of communication? That there is more to a film than mere visual pleasure and story-telling is what the participants at the month-long Film Appreciation Course conducted by the Kerala State Film Development Corporation understood. The overall impact of a film requires a keener eye that also learns to appreciate quality by understanding cinema as the result of creative energies of a production team.

From diverse fields

The 45 participants of the course came from fields as diverse as engineering, veterinary science, visual communication, media, to name a few. Anvesh Reddy, a student from IIT-Chennai, is an example of a present-day youngster smitten by the immense possibilities of the medium.

“I watch films, the contemporary ones, and this is the first time I’m attending a course of this kind. It’s my dream to make a film after I complete my studies. What I got here was an understanding of film genre, an opportunity to watch the classics and the inputs from those who took classes.”

For the former non-resident Indian K. Padma Senan, watching a film all these days was merely a “blind man’s view. Now the viewing perspective, and the experience of a class with film clippings aided better understanding. Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’ took on a beautiful hue when poet O.N.V. Kurup shared his insights.

Regular screenings of films by the masters, sessions with film scholar P.K. Nair, directors Hariharan, Shyamaprasad, K.G. George and interaction with the noted filmmaker Buddhadev Dasgupta who had come with his film ‘Kaalpurush,’ find a place among the enriching interactions of the participants.

Film appreciation courses rarely take the group into the nitty-gritty of filmmaking. The KSFDC sessions included the production of a short film ‘Kalpitham’ by T.K. Rajeev Kumar in the schedule.

Film is not always candy for the eye; being able to witness the whole production exercise, according to Srirekha, was an eye-opener of sorts. “Shorn of glamour, watching a film take shape on the studio floors and on the editing table took us to the sweat and grime and the unsung heroes of a film. Here we are talking of a three-minute film that was produced before our eyes,” says this post-graduate student of University College.

Journalism students Rajmohan and Resmi represent the current viewing tastes: they watch films of all kinds in theatres and at home. But there is more to it than sitting through the duration of the film is what they have realised. Passolini, Kurosawa, Ray, Fellini and a clutch of other masterpieces, were each a distinctive lesson on the auteur and the viewing experience.

Filmmaker M.P. Sukumaran Nair who was coordinating the course has his own take on what it hopes to achieve. “Through this whole gamut of activities planned for a month, which included film technology, projection of films, production and understanding the dynamics of filmmaking, the feel of a film will change for the participants. Rethinking on film reviewing, spreading film literacy, and the interaction with people from different departments of film production would alter their total approach to a film.” At the end of the course, one hears people asking for more and better films.