Calling all cinephiles: The rise of alternate cinema in Delhi

  • Etti Bali, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 04, 2016 11:31 IST
A film screening session by Lightcube Film Society. (Suraj Prasad)

The first rule of a film club is that everyone talks about films! The national capital is home to a number of independent film clubs which screen a variety of films from regional to world cinema. These clubs serve as a platform for independent films which, otherwise, might not get a mass release.

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Usually, a film screening at such a club is accompanied by discussions and interactive sessions between the audience and the filmmaker. Documentary filmmaker and founding member of Creative Addas, Kavita Joshi, says, “We are trying to build a community where people from different creative backgrounds come together to watch films and take part in engaging discourse.”

Certain clubs, like the Cine Club at Alliance Francaise, hold screenings on fixed days. But there are many others, such as Kriti Film Club, which work on a flexible schedule. The venues for such screenings also change depending on the club and size of the audience.

The audience at film screenings range from students to media professionals. (Shamiana_The Short Film Club)

Independent filmmaker Nipul Malik, who organised the Cinesthesia Film Festival at Cine Club in 2013 and 2014, says, “Film clubs have an unbiased approach in the sense that they do not discriminate between aspiring and established filmmakers. We saw great participation from all across the country.”

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Shilpi Gulati, whose documentary, Qissa-e-Parsi: The Parsi Story, won the National Award in Best Ethnographic/Anthropological category in 2015, feels that the presence of such clubs is beneficial for both the audiences and the filmmakers. “Delhi has several spaces for documentary screenings and most of them have free entry. Documentaries usually do not have theatrical releases so film festivals and film clubs become venues which encourage a film viewing culture and also provide space for a post-screening discussion,” she says.

A still from Qissa-e-Parsi: The Parsi Story, a documentary by Shilpi Gulati and Divya Cowasji.

This freedom of movement and easy availability of screening spaces has helped create awareness about these clubs. Shamiana-The Short Film Club, holds screenings all over the city and the venues include cafes and campuses. Priya Bhattacharji, manager of the Delhi Chapter of Shamiana, says, “Delhi’s appetite for independent stuff is insatiable. We always get intelligent feedback from our audience in the city.”

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Film screenings of this nature work on multiple levels. The clubs touch upon many points, from re-connecting locals with their cultural roots to furthering the study of visual communication and revising film screening habits. Suraj Prasad, co-founder of Lightcube Film Society, says, “We are trying to take the alternate film culture to the masses. It is one of the best times to have a careful analysis of visual communication.”

More film clubs in the city

Habitat Film Club: Watch a mix of regional films as well world cinema
Kriti Film Club: The club promotes cinema with a conscience
Cine Darbaar: The club organises film festivals, and research and education campaigns
Japan Foundation Film Club:
 Get a dose of Japanese culture through their cinema

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