Christopher Nolan wants reels to keep rolling in cinema across the world
At a time when award-winning movies are being made on iPhones and handhelds, Nolan believes it is more important than ever to preserve photochemical film.mumbai Updated: Apr 01, 2018 18:01 IST
“It would be very difficult for me to feel enthusiastic about getting up early in the morning if there were no real cameras on set,” says filmmaker Christopher Nolan, speaking during his ongoing visit to Mumbai with visual artist Tacita Dean.
They’re here to discuss what has become a pet cause of Nolan’s — the use of film.
At a time when award-winning movies are being made on iPhones and handhelds, he believes it is more important than ever to preserve photochemical film. “I am here to interact with people who are part of one of the greatest film cultures in the world. We need present and future filmmakers to have a choice,” he said. “Everywhere in the world, filmmakers have to go through various obstacles to make their art a reality. So I think they should have this choice.”
Nolan (Dunkirk; Interstellar) and Dean were in Mumbai for the fourth edition of Reframing the Future of Film. The two Britons held the first edition of the event in Los Angeles in 2015. In Mumbai, it is a three-day event concluding on April 1, organised in association with Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, film-maker, archivist and founder of the Film Heritage Foundation.
Day 1 saw Dean hold a public lecture at the Bhau Daji Lad museum in Byculla. Day 2 held a lively discussion about the future of celluloid, at the Yash Raj studios in Andheri, with filmmaker Shyam Benegal, Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Kamal Haasan, and cinematographers Sudeep Chatterjee and Santosh Sivan, among other producers and directors.
“Both Chatterjee and Sivan confirmed that they will shoot their next movie on film. To me that’s encouraging news,” said Dungarpur, who has been leading a rather lonely struggle to preserve India’s film history, most of which is in the form of poorly preserved and poorly archived celluloid reels.
Saturday evening saw IMAX screenings of Dunkirk in Wadala and of Interstellar at Liberty, Marine Lines, both with Nolan in attendance. The visit will end with a conversation between Nolan and Dean at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.
Overall, Nolan said, the vibe has been positive and encouraging. “The dialogue shouldn’t be about digital versus celluloid but about how they can co-exist,” he added, while addressing a group of journalists on Saturday evening. “Film has a special relationship with real life that the digital medium doesn’t.”
The colours are richer; every frame is something unique, like a snowflake, said Dean. “With celluloid, the experience is more organic.”
What is certainly more complex is the process of preservation, when you have a film shot on celluloid, and this is a challenge in India, Dungarpur said. “Till 2014, we were still shooting almost exclusively on celluloid, and because of poor preservation, India had lost most of its film heritage and almost every film made in silent era.”
What we must preserve, Nolan added, is the technical knowledge that is needed to make a film on celluloid and encourage a new generation to make movies on celluloid. “As technicians and projectionists get older, they need to pass the knowledge,” he said. “In America, workshops are arranged to share this knowledge; Shivendra is doing the same here.”
He added that there are plans for an audio-visual component to this sharing of knowledge.
“We have to start getting recorded testimonies from people who understand this technology well and we also should get it in book form,” the filmmaker said.
First Published: Apr 01, 2018 18:01 IST