Films pushing for change

New wave

Filmmaking is believed to be about techniques and art, the medium is also an influential tool for change. Some filmmakers have come in the realm with a message and gone, and for years they haven’t produced any films.

Whereas, capital and distribution still remains a major concern for part-time and independent filmmakers. Cinema of Resistance (CoR) also known as ‘Pratirodh ka Cinema’, a group started by Sanjay Joshi in 2006, throws light on alternative culture of cinema, cinema for the people, of the people and by the people.

CoR has organised a sort of stray community of filmmakers who struggle for funds and distribution. Joshi made a film years ago as a student and now he is solely attached to the movement. 

Joshi tells Metrolife, “CoR is not against any kind of cinema, it can be mainstream also. But we curate films only if it connects to the people.”

CoR does not count its members. They try to reach out to people from remote corners of India who are interested in the medium and give them a space to showcase their effort to a wider public. Also their upcoming festivals are in Nainital, Azamgarh, Maharajganj, Ramnagar in November.

Joshi says, “We have a no-sponsorship, organic model of people’s cinema festivals, film screenings and people’s film societies far and wide. We allow people to organise their own festivals in any location, schools, colleges, areas, villages or towns. We feel that modes of making and screening of documentary films that carry and amplify voices and ideas otherwise muted, cannot be left to the corporates’ or government’s whims.”

So in the midst of big city festivals like Mumbai International Film Festival (MAMI) or International Film Festival of India (IFFI), the quiet CoR Film Festivals have become a new wave. The last cinema movement which gathered eminence was in the 1950s, the parallel cinema 1950s and the Indian New Wave 1960s.

Joshi explains, “Films of Satyajit Ray and Shyam Benegal and their league were produced by National Film Development Council (NFDC), but they still saw hard times during distribution. NFDC does not take any responsibility of distributing films. Though we know them as pioneers now, at the peak time of parallel cinema, the mass was unable to experience their films in theatres.”

Kumar Gaurav’s first film, Curfew was screened at the Udaipur Film Festival by CoR. The 18-year-old was in school when a riot took place in his village in Jamshedpur. He picked up his handicam and shot the riot and made the 20 minute film. Curfew documents a Hindu-Muslim riot which took place two years ago, because there was a rumour in the village about a Muslim boy eve teasing a Hindu girl. Gaurav shows how Hindutva groups in the village declared a ‘bandh’ the next day, when they destroyed properties of Muslim people in an organised fashion.

Gaurav says, “Nobody wanted to talk about it even if it was obvious. To me, this film was supposed to be a personal one. I went for the CoR film festivals a few times and they showcased my film in the Udaipur Film Festival. I don’t think I am a filmmaker, I know nothing of the craft. I think if a person has a motive and vision, he or she can make
a film.”

Nakul Singh Sawhney, director of Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai (about the 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots) has recently held many screenings of the movie this year, throughout the country. But the film saw its first glimpse in a film festival which is annually organised by CoR, when it was just in its editing stage.

Sawhney says, “I recognise myself as a filmmaker but also as an activist. I always try to make films on social issues. A filmmaker needs to have a worldview. People may think a filmmaker is objective, but without a perspective, there is no use of the craft.”

He adds, “There is a popular narrative for everything that is happening in the society. But if one finds another narrative, there should be some way to express it.

The most difficult is to find the space for a debate,” says Sawhney. Joshi elucidates on the same, “Films like any other art form are tools for social change, but change cannot be brought by any one medium. Change occurs when all the forces act together. But a film can contribute to the change.”

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