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Posts from — May 2012

The International Film Festival Summit, Paris


As a freelance film critic looking to get involved with film festivals, I feared that talks at the International Film Festival Summit might be too specialised for me. I was one of only two people who were solely film critics, in a room of about 40 people, many of whom had vast experience founding, financing, organising and programming film festivals: about half gave keynote addresses or participated in panels to share their knowledge. In-depth knowledge of a subject can make it difficult to talk about it without going into the kind of detail that will bore the uninitiated or blind them with science. Yet most of what these knowledgeable speakers had to say was completely accessible to the novice. The name ‘summit’ also evokes a vast, potentially intimidating gathering of people, but this summit was a personal and welcoming affair, hosted in a cosy meeting room at the Hotel du Louvre, right in the middle of Paris’s first arrondissement. [Read more →]

May 28, 2012   1 Comment  

Bollywood’s foreign fan brigade


SRK in Berlin

Greta Kaemmer can really grill you. Hurling questions with rapid-fire velocity, Kaemmer, who is better known as Memsaab, astounds you with her encyclopedic knowledge of Indian cinema. Sample this: How were Mehmood and Meena Kumari related in real life? Don’t know. In which Hindi film do two actresses play the same character? Duh. And in which film does Shammi Kapoor do a nautch girl number? I’m logging off…

Memsaab is part of a growing group of foreigners who love Indian cinema as much as any Indian. Accomplished in ‘Hinglish’, these men and women are passionate about all things Bollywood. Take Maria, a German blogger and diehard fan of Shah Rukh Khan who was so upset with the lack of a German release for Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna in her country that she flew to New York to watch the film: First day, first show. Or Bastet, another German blogger who writes, “Being a Bollywood fan in Germany is not easy. We undertook a 200-km-long trip to Amsterdam (to see KANK). At that moment, we didn’t mind that the film was in Dutch and not in English subtitles.” [Read more →]

May 7, 2012   No Comments  

Pirating history

A few hours ago the Minister of Information and Broadcasting here in India, Ms Ambika Soni announced that on the occasion of hundred years of Indian cinema (which is next year by popular account), her ministry has assigned Rs. 500 crore  in the next five-year plan for setting up the National Heritage Mission that aims to digitize and restore all audio and video tapes of Indian films. While India faces a dire need to pay more attention to archiving its cinema history, this does seem an ambitious project. But here’s hoping it sees light of day.

Meanwhile, at a less official level, I recorded a ten-minute extract of the restored Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, ostensibly India’s first film. With cinema entering its 100th year, I would assume this film has long entered the free-copyright zone and will not land me into trouble. The aim of the arduous exercise of putting this clip on YouTube was to contribute yet another unofficial, barely legal bit to the enormous, free and pirate archive of cinema that is floating across media, particularly on the Internet. So here it is:

Read the entire press report here: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=83059

May 3, 2012   No Comments