Not inventing but reviving cinema
Passionate about films, 30-year old Suraj Prasad and Anuj Malhotra, did not choose to make cinema. They instead decided to revive cinema by taking movies out of conventional venues like auditoriums and cultural centers and showing them in cafes, art galleries, storefronts and villages.
Therefore, the duo, who were earlier involved with various other film-related bodies and organisations decided to start their own society - Lightcube Film Society. Interestingly, they started with the screening of films like Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Musafir, Satyen Bose’s Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and a silent film Pushpak by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao in Dhenuki, Bihar.
“We used a bedsheet as a movie screen and a projector used during marriages to screen those films for residents of the village,” shares Suraj Prasad, who started the society in 2012. “Essentially, the project helped us in understanding the film society movement in the Northern region and made us realise that we are not doing any path-breaking or novel thing – we are merely adapting older models to a contemporary, digital world.”
Giving examples of Bijli Pehalwan, Heggodu and the Odessa Collective, Suraj says, “Travelling village shows have been happening for decades. They are flourishing well in Southern and Western regions but the scenario is very different in the Northern region. After a reality check we got a clearer vision – that our ambition is revival, and not invention.”
On the other hand, in the urban areas, the society has been organising two types of festivals. One is retrospectives of directors like Fritz Lang, Alain Resnais, Buster Keaton and Satyajit Ray. Presently, the filmmaker in focus is the French master, Alain Resnais whose films are being shown at different venues in Hauz Khas village.
“Our attempt is to adhere to a strict linear chronology in screening the films of a director, that is beginning with the film he made first and moving towards the film he made last. This reveals the evolution of a particular trait or the development of a style in the work of a director, also his political and social beliefs,” says Anuj.
“However, as is the case with the Ray and the Resnais Retrospectives, we tend to abandon this linear chronology and instead try to arrange the films in the order in which they display particular symptoms of a director’s work. For instance, the idea of screening Stavisky and Night and Fog together was to associate the two movies that seriously think about death or mortality,” he says.
Apart from retrospectives, they also organise festivals of distinct films like Transmissions 2012, DIAF 2012 and Distant Firelights. In Distant Firelights Festival in April, Maya Deren’s At Land and Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues were screened. “The two films dealt with the idea of a woman’s travels across landscapes and different circles of judgment were played together,” says Anuj.