Monday, February 29, 2016


by  Abhijit Ghosh Dastidar, Media/ Film Critic,“Frontier –English Weekly”,Kolkata.

1.    Since 1947, foreign embassies, foreign consular offices and foreign cultural centres had been supplying films to the film societies. These were initially previewed by the Zonal film society censorship exemption committees and submitted to Union Ministry of I &B, for censorship exemption, at exclusive non-commercial screenings of different film societies. The censorship exemption period was restricted to a specified time frame.
2.     The initial selection of the films was done by the cultural attaches of the different embassies and programes officers of the consular offices/foreign cultural centres. The selections followed patterns like tributes to film eras, important film directors and illustrious actors and actresses.  The film prints were mostly of 16 mm till mid 1980s. Under the co-ordination of Union Ministry of I&B, there were seven to ten film selection from IFFI or Film utsav, which travelled to different metro cities, for screenings by the state information departments and the film societies. The Alliance Francaise followed a system of giving films to the film societies, a month after their screenings at the AF premise. The Italian film distribution system was too commercialized and scarcely offered any films to the film societies.
3.    Given the scenario, film society activists in the different executive committees of the film society were scarcely interested in demanding or selecting films for screenings, in the film society circuits. Cine Literacy remained dormant and declined sharply. The film society executive committees gradually became peaked with people who never saw films nor read about films.
4.    From the early 1990s, the rental tariff of government auditoriums and private cinema halls increased astronomically. Films are now obtainable in plenty in the form of DVD cassettes and satellite, download internet “donfed” streamers. Government rules still require obtaining the films from foreign diplomatic sources/cultural centres, or after censor board certification. DVD shops like shop 36, Palika Bazar, Connaught Place, New Delhi and Make Your Festival video shops of Mumbai, supply every film title conceived (foreign and Indian).
5.    Foreign cultural centres encourage film society enthusiasts to watch films, careened every month, at their premises. There is always a large section of ladies who watch films at foreign cultural centres, but watch films at foreign cultural centres, but who are not members of any film society. The fair sex have been indifferent to male dominated film societies. Film Institute, Pune, and Satyajit Ray Film Institute, Kolkata conduct film screenings on every working day, in the evenings. While Nandan, the West Bengal Government Centre, screens commercial films at Nandan I& II auditoriums, there are four to six films classics screened at Nandan III, every month. State Government of Maharashtra in collaboration with Prabhat Chitra Mandal screens two film classics from the national Film Archive, Pune, at Chavan Centre auditorium (Nariman Point). The lingering interest in Film Culture and better films found in handful of individuals in entirely due to singular efforts. Foreign newspapers/magazines at the foreign libraries and Internet Data are helping enormously.

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