Film buffs in Chandigarh and its vicinity might have been spending the last Sunday of every month these last eleven months in the company of independent filmmakers from across the country—courtesy an event called Sunday with the Filmmaker, that was started by Chandigarh Creative Cinema Circle (4C) last year. Having given wings to their passion for cinema, especially documentary and independent films, the founders of 4C are now raring to touch new heights. Celebrating the completion of one year of their brainchild, they talk about the creative satisfaction their venture gives them.
It all started a year ago when city-based software engineer AP Mishra met Harish Garg, an advocate, and Sawan, a visual artist, both based in Chandigarh. “We met through Gurpal Singh, a common friend who was in the city last year to shoot for the Hindi film Special 26. A desire to start a cultural activity was always on my mind. But, after meeting like-minded people, it got a kick start,” says Mishra, adding, “Meaningful cinema has seen a vacuum in the city, even though there is an audience for it. Sadly, there isn’t any platform to showcase it.”
Before they went ahead with the film screening sessions, they decided to test waters. For this, they organised a two-day street festival in May last year at the Sector 17 plaza and named it Kala Kukkad. Says Harish, “This event cost us around R2,000, and surprisingly had a high success rate that boosted our spirits. After this, we were sure of wanting to organise a film fest.”
The next step was encountering financial constraints, which they did by coming up with a week-long workshop in filmmaking for raising funds. Attended by eight students, it was conducted by Dehradun-based Sudharshan Juyal, a graduate from FTII (Film and Television Institute of India, Pune) and NSD (National School of Drama, Delhi). The event fetched them R20,000. “Soon after, we came up with the Chandigarh Cinema Festival, in which we showcased 20 films in two days, made by eight filmmakers. Despite not having any expectations from the festival, it saw a great response. The event was jam packed and we were short of chairs for people to sit on. Unlike other film fests, none of the films screened was mainstream,” says Mishra.
Over a period of time, their team of three increased with the joining of theatre artiste Gursimran Datla, advocate Arjun Sheoran, law student Aditi Sheoran, English lecturer Vijaya Singh and social activist Sushil Danish. Meanwhile, their Sunday with the Filmmaker continued, where they invited filmmakers to showcase their films followed by discussion on the same. “The idea was to promote the independent way of filmmaking. About four films were shown on the last Sunday of every month, and surprisingly people sat through the event for even documentary-styled films, which is a rare sight. From 12 viewers the first time, we now have almost 65 people coming on Sundays. The credit for this goes to the filmmakers whose films are screened, and also speaks about our efforts,” they say.
Members of 4C add that they want to drive home the point that cinema is a meaningful tool of communication and films are not just about masala entertainment. Adds Arjun, “Garnering money and resources was the biggest hindrance. If a filmmaker is to travel from Delhi to the city, paying for his travel and accommodation costs us around R6,000. We encourage people to contribute on the Sunday of film screenings and our highest collection so far has been R1,500. The rest, we contribute from our own pockets. Also, there is no hierarchy. We all are sweepers as well as presidents.”
4C is celebrating its one-year birthday with a film festival—2nd Chandigarh Cinema Festival that is currently underway. The team now dreams of reaching a level where it would need no introduction. “We want to garner support for budding filmmakers—financially as well as in terms of infrastructure,” Sawan signs off.