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Arrival of modern gadgets has helped villagers produce short films

From The Hindu

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ERODE: In a few years from now if one were to write the people’s history of Tamil Nadu today, what he or she would look for as source may not be just documents and newspapers.

The historian to-be would prefer compact disks as the best source, for in villages spread across the State people have started recording events and issues concerning them through short and documentary films.

“The arrival of modern gadgets coupled with easy affordability has helped villagers produce short films,” says P. Thirunavukkarasu of the Tamil Nadu Documentary and Short Film Creators’ Association.

The Association teaches villagers the ABC of cinema – from cinematography to acting to editing to lighting. “We have conducted the five-day course in Tiruchi, Karur, Coimbatore, Ramanathapuram and Krishnagiri districts,” he says.

But why? “Every village has a story to narrate, which is told best in visual medium. For, it helps the villagers, more comfortable with hand-held digicams than bigger gadgets, convey messages in their language and style, free of fear, inhibition, etc.,” says Mr. Thirunavukkarasu.

He adds: “And, such documentation is cent per cent people’s history because they decide what, when and how to document. People tell their history and that too through a mass medium, which in this case is mass in every sense of the term.”

To drive home his point that people, particularly the unlettered, are quite comfortable with cinema medium, the film aficionado narrates an instance from a village near Thanjavur.

“After we screened the famous Bicycle Thieves to a group of farm labourers, a young boy, in response to our request for feedbacks, said the movie was never shot in the set, which is true,” he says and adds, “The bo y’s observation vindicates our claim and is also in consonance with our mission that films are for ordinary people.”
Teaching cinema

Teaching cinema apart, the six-year-old Association has done yet another commendable work: unite short and documentary film directors of Tamil Nadu.

“In 1994, the centenary year of films, feeling the need to unite short film directors we brought together nearly 150 directors and that helped them get audience. It also helped screen movies in important film festivals, something missing for long,” says Mr. Thirunavukkarasu.Born out of the networking was Nizhal, the Association’s forum, which comes out with an eponymous magazine. Using Nizhal as a platform, the Association members have taken world-famous cinema to villagers. And, they have also helped a few good directors get recognised.
400 films a year

In times to come, Mr. Thirunavukkarasu says, short and documentary films will have a great future because more and more villagers will shoot and so will students of visual communication and mass communication.

“Eighty colleges in Tamil Nadu have the courses, students of which come out with films. Assuming that a minimum of 10 students from each college come up with movies and in that if at least 50 per cent are good, I have 400 films a year,” he says.

As regards the need for censor certificates for such films, which could be misused,

Mr. Thirunavukkarasu says it is welcome and mandatory but with zero Government intervention. “It should be a special category censorship,” he says.

And adds, “The arrival of websites like YouTube has only made things easy for amateur directors.”


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