Alternate Cinema

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Time after time, mainstream blockbuster films, whether in Hollywood or Bollywood, have continually eclipsed the visibility of lesser-known films that come within the domain of alternate cinema. These  small budget ‘art’ films, which are designed more for their aesthetic appeal than for their economic viability, focus primarily on the creative talents of their directors through their narrative techniques, usually using an avant-garde approach, as well as on contemporary issues relating to social realities.

Vikalp

Vikalp

Without adequate financial backing for large scale production budgets, massive advertising campaigns, astronomical fees of celebrity movie stars or exorbitant special effects, which are usually associated with typical money-spinning commercial films, art film directors have to function within their shoe string budgets, recruit amateur actors and settle for humble sets. The promotional manoeuvers to spread the interest of a film to an uninformed audience in the film circuit is primarily through critical opinions of columnists, journalists or quite simply, by word of mouth. However, it is purely for their unreserved enthusiasm and ardour for cinema that these film makers have eventually managed to create an independent niche in the film industry, where their films are showcased at specific venues such as repertory cinemas, private auditoriums or otherwise at film festivals. Organizations such as Vikalp, The Root, The Press Club and the Alliance Française are a few such places that screen these films on a regular basis in Mumbai. Post the screenings, discussions are often organized to generate a debate on the theme of the relevant film in question.

The Root

The Root

During the film festivals held in 2003 and 2004, many film makers had campaigned against the censorship rules prevalent at that time. Despite the change in regulations and the organization of an alternative film festival that year, a collective effort seemed necessary, which favorably paved the way for Vikalp. The idea behind it was to show unconventional yet contemporary films that stood for diversity. Documentaries play a major role in their screenings. As a voluntary effort on the part of filmmakers, Vikalp is composed of a group of people who are passionate about cinema. AF Magazine recently invited Paromita Vohra, a filmmaker involved in Vikalp, for an interview in July 2014 where she shared her view in great detail. This article can be accessed on the following link: The Independent Cinema of Vikalp.

The Press Club, Mumbai

The Press Club, Mumbai

The Root is another such initiative that was initiated with selling organic t-shirts and notebooks made from elephant dung. Ever since then, The Root in the name of The Root Reel has been involved in screening films to propagate sociocultural, environmental and political issues, apart from involving themselves in other creative media or merchandise. The issues that lie within the core of independent cinema are rarely ever featured in cinema halls and are showcased by such efforts. On a similar note, The Press Club, a group of journalists, united to render professional services to journalists, also screens films every Saturday at The Press Club, Mumbai. As part of the Independent cinema of India, these films showcase the non-mercenary aspects of the industry.

The Independent Cinema is further enriched by festivals that occur periodically such as the Mumbai Film Festival that takes place annually in October for 10 days. This festival was created by MAMI (the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image),  a non-profit organization dedicated to organize an annual “International Film Festival”. This initiative aims at viewing the realm of films without the conventional labels of “art” or “commercial” and it organizes the festival as the first step in this direction. The Independent Cinema scene has already been developed in many places abroad such as the Cinéma d’art et d’essai in France (promoted by law) and is aimed at exhibiting films characterized by a research in cinematography, incontestable qualities but a low audience, an exotic country less-known to France, an historical or artistic interest or a short duration.

The Alliance Française de Bombay screens many films from the independent scene as well. Vikalp, a partner of the Alliance Française, presents a movie every month in the auditorium of AF Bombay. These films stand for diversity and are selected to provoke thoughts by the team of Vikalp volunteers. Similarly, The Root also showcases its rarely seen documentaries at AF Bombay.

Links to pages:
AF Magazine Article on The Independent Cinema of Vikalp
The Root: Facebook page
The Press Club, Mumbai: Website
Mumbai Film Festival: The Film Fest
Alliance Française de Bombay: Upcoming events

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Rédaction

Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...