Bombay Showcase

Enter the reel world

Film aficionados might take time out to notice the nuances of a well-directed shot, but lay folk are more attuned to skipping the finer details and focussing on the larger picture instead.

As they say, there’s nothing like starting off young, and building an appreciation for creativity in all its forms. The Film Heritage Foundation, founded by ace filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, has organised a two-day workshop for kids at the CSMVS museum where they will be exposed to the language of aesthetics and the art of filmmaking.

Titled Do You Speak Cinema, the workshop aims at transforming the experience of cinema-watching from a mere passive experience to a more active one. Children will learn about the evolution of cinema and its history. They’ll also have the opportunity to touch and feel film reels and be introduced to the works of legends such as Dadasaheb Phalke, Georges Melies, and Charles Chaplin. “The idea is also to make them understand and notice the different aspects that go into filmmaking,” says Dungarpur. “From the sound, colour, lighting, and the narrative devices: all of which give cinema its unique language.”

When Durgapur was filming his documentary Celluloid Man , a realisation struck: as a country, we were losing a colossal amount of film history. So, Durgapur took it upon himself to create a foundation that would build awareness about the issue, while simultaneously creating a network of archivists and restorers. And in 2014, the non-profit The Film Heritage Foundation was established as a platform to preserve India’s cinematic heritage.

Through initiatives like the upcoming workshop, children will learn about this very aspect of cinema preservation. “The idea is to make children a more discerning audience in a world where they are constantly bombarded with images,” says Dungarpur. In the past, the foundation has run similar activities with pre-primary kids where they were introduced to hand-tinted films, animation and classic Chaplin films. The little ones were shown flipbooks to understand the persistence of vision. Then they were encouraged to draw on blank frames all that they observed during the screenings.

“Children are so receptive, and it’s very important to expose them to different kinds of visual imagery and styles from the beginnings of cinema, where the works of the pioneers still look innovative today and have stood the test of time,” he says.

In 2015, the foundation launched a pilot project in south Rajasthan to introduce film as an educational resource in Standards V and VI. The workshops introduced art, and social sciences through cinema to both students and faculty alike through interactive engagement.

Since our country doesn’t yet have formal training in the filed of film preservation, the non-profit set up a The Film Heritage Foundation Restoration School in collaboration with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, Cineteca di Bologna, L’Immagine Ritrovata and the International Federation of Film Archives.

The course’s duration, which lasted from February 22 to 28, 2015 in Mumbai, was open to applicants from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Only 53 students were selected from over 100 applicants. “The week-long course consisted of lectures followed by interactive sessions with experts on film archiving and preservation, screenings of restored classics, and 10 modules on film restoration including hands-on training in the latest techniques.”

Most recently, the school ran another 10-day workshop from February 26 to March 6 that provided an opportunity to work with preservation of both filmic and non-filmic material with a greater focus on hands-on training. The workshop had 61 participants from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and the students were divided into smaller groups where they could work together on the restoration of filmstrips, documents and photographs.

For Dungarpur, the power of cinema lies in the strength of visuals, not words. Building an avenue for the appreciation of cinematic history and seeing it as a strong voice in our ever-changing landscape, is what the following generations need to see… literally and figuratively.

Do you Speak Cinema will be held at the CSMVS Museum on May 27t and 28 from 11am-1.30 pm. The workshop costs Rs. 300, and education@csmvs.in to register.

The author is a freelance writer

The idea is to make children a discerning audience in a world where they are bombarded with images

Children will be exposed to the language of aesthetics and the art of filmmaking


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Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 5:14:45 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/enter-the-reel-world/article8639110.ece