A three day long film festival hosted by the American Centre culminated on Sunday evening on a hopeful note with the final film, The Road. Comprising entirely of films based on famous works of fiction, the festival, titled Road to Classicity, was the brainchild of Cinedarbaar, a group of young cinephiles trying to keep good cinema alive in Delhi.
The films screened included the noir classic, Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Paths of Glory and P.T. Anderson’s modern marvel, There Will be Blood. Penguin India pitched in by putting up the books some of the films were based on for sale at the venue.
Formed in February 2009 by three cineastes, Cinedarbaar has been involved in cinema appreciation and dissemination through various festivals and interactive sessions ever since. Cinedarbaar’s artistic director Supriya Suri talked to us about how she, along with Nitesh Rohit, editor-in-chief of their cine magazine Indian Auteur and the magazine’s sub-editor Anuj Malhotra have tried to tap into Delhiites’ curiosity about regional and world cinema. Edited excerpts:
What motivated you to start Cinedarbaar?
Cinedarbaar, as the word suggests, is a gathering for cinephiles. I always wondered what it was that was lacking in a cinematic culture as rich as ours that led to the public’s ignorance of some great films, Indian or otherwise. It was not long before we realized that all we needed was to provide a platform for the people to watch good films. So, motivated by the idea of making the tabooed area of film programming a profession for people to look forward to, we started approaching the various cultural centres in Delhi to hold film screenings. After a few hurdles, we managed to hold an Iranian Film Festival in collaboration with the Iranian Cultural Centre in 2009 itself. As the audiences started filling the auditoriums, we realized that we were not alone.
What are the various ways in which you have tried to reach out to people?
Film screenings are a part of the whole cinema experience. As you must have noticed with this film festival itself, we always incorporate discussions about the films screened in addition to holding film review contests and short quizzes with prizes up for grabs. Earlier, having started Cinedarbaar, we kicked off our campaign by touring around 13 mass communication colleges and film institutes in Delhi to hold discussions on cinema. Soon we realized that the colleges managed to teach the students all kinds of technicalities regarding the filming process; but, what their pedagogy lacked was the infusion of the idea of aesthetics into the syllabi. And that’s where we came in. Later, we also held a camp for nine to 17 year-olds about cinema.
Tell us something about your magazine, ‘Indian Auteur’.
The magazine began as an online venture in February, 2009. Our aim was to make it a platform for the serious and critical appreciation of cinema. Not surprisingly, it was deemed too “intellectual” by all the potential endorsers because of its critical content. So it took a long time for us to bring out a print version. The inaugural print issue came out in August, 2009. Although we are only looking for institutional subscriptions right now, we hope to make it available to the wider public in due time.
What are your plans for the near future?
As of now, we are trying to reach out to schoolchildren in a big way. We are planning to hold two separate camps in the coming weeks: one for those in the age group of 9-17 and the other for people 18 and older. We will also try to work out a way to ensure that the deserving films find their way to the renowned film festivals of the world since we recognize how flawed the current selection process is. Finally, we plan to branch out into other art forms—the indigenous, often neglected, local arts. With institutional support, we hope to make a difference where it matters. I know our passion will take us a long way.