That familiar sound of an old-school movie projector kicking up, as the screen begins to flicker to life, conversations dimming along with the lights — the anticipation before a film is an experience itself. For this, we have Satyajit Ray to thank, for unknowingly pioneering India’s Film Society movement in October, 1947 with the establishment of the Calcutta Film Society. The national and international success of his film, ‘Pather Panchali’ monumentally boosted the movement, which then led to the formation of the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI) in 1959.
Not only did this pave the way for Indians to watch and enjoy films as a medium of entertainment, but VK Cherian, a film society activist, told the TOI, that this formed the base of a massive resistance of Indian films against Hollywood which, back in the late 50s, made for 90% of our cinema.
Once India was more acclimatized to the film industry, the advent of television and mainstream video began to take over what once used to be a more in-depth cultural experience. From the Bombay Film Society in 1940 that had curated content, we’ve come to multiplexes that stream content for the masses.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just makes things difficult for those who appreciate cinema that evokes more than just a fleeting emotion. Film societies or film clubs today, are looked upon as gatherings for film professionals, and as people like to say, hipsters. For those genuinely interested in all that the film industry has to offer, it can be a tad bit frustrating to find like-minded individuals, without feeling overwhelmed.
Well, look no further, denizens of Delhi. We’ve contacted a bunch of Film Societies and Film Clubs who are more than welcoming, and encourage newcomers.
I. Alliance Française Cine Club
“For those who’d love to discover French culture, through films.”
A more niche club, with a penchant for all things French, the Cine Club by Alliance Française is your go-to place if Indian cinema isn’t cutting it for you anymore. And yes, before you ask, all their movies have English subtitles. You can catch a French film here, every week. Or better yet, just follow them on Facebook and get to the next French Film Festival!
HG Loves: The unity at this Indo-French cultural centre is just beautiful. Besides films, the centre also hosts a number of activities and festivals through the month.
II. Cine Darbaar
“Creating intellectual forums for cinephiles.”
More of a film appreciation club, Cine Darbaar encourages spirited discussions of anything and everything about films here. Simply put, this is the platform to watch a film, and talk about it right after. Meant for those who like their movies with a side of opinions, this space is dedicated to developing a space for different art and culture in India, and to give their members film options beyond what the city offers.
HG Loves: Yet another promoter of Film Festivals, we love how Cine Darbaar makes a casual movie experience, a more engaging one through their lively space.
You can follow Cine Darbaar on Facebook to stay updated.
III. Habitat Film Club
“A rich fare of meaningful and entertaining films from across the world.”
Started in the year 2000, this film club has garnered much recognition for the effort they’ve put into exposing their members to brilliant cinema from across the globe. They screen early classics, to the avant garde styles of new filmmakers, but pay their respects to mainstream cinema too by showcasing several legends. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a good mix of both worlds, perhaps this is the film club for you.
Besides monthly film screenings, film appreciation lectures, interactions with directors, producers, and actors are also a part of your experience as a member.
HG Loves: Habitat Film Club’s Film Festivals are guaranteed to be a curation of global cinema, a true film buff would appreciate. If you don’t live in Delhi, try to plan a visit to the state, when a film festival is on.
IV. India International Centre (IIC) Film Club
“Retrospectives galore, from the international and Indian circuit!”
Known to be the oldest functioning film society in Delhi, its members vary from filmmakers and film critics, to students and film buffs. With every month, comes four to six films, each of which are typically unavailable freely, on a commercial scale. Sometimes, they screen retrospectives, besides the avant-garde directors; from the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, to Andrzej Wajda, as well as Indian filmmakers from Satyajit Ray, to Shyam Benegal.
HG Loves: The society uses their platform as a space for filmmakers to screen their documentaries, or new productions, or even works in progress, followed by a panel discussion.
You can visit IIC Film Club on their website for more details.
V. Japan Foundation Cinema Club
“The culture of Japan, through cinema.”
Delhi, has more than one film club dedicated to a culture, which to be honest, works out perfectly. Not only does it broaden the spectrum for cinephiles, it also provides an indepth look at the diversity of another culture. The Japan Foundation Cinema Club does exactly that, by covering Japan’s beloved anime, to their epic dramas and comedies, at their screenings.
HG Loves: The club organizes multiple cultural activities, besides language courses and hosting a library.
VI. Kriti Film Club
“Thought-provoking and socially-conscious cinema.”
A club dedicated to documentaries that evoke visions of change within their viewers, sounds like just the cup of tea our society needs right now. Not only do they specifically screen socially relevant documentaries, they also welcome independent filmmakers to screen their work, or offer to host a film festival in honor of the same. Besides, what better way to support a social movement, then by getting to the root cause of it through a film? While their focus remains on documentaries, they also attempt to maintain a discussion group so everyone, right from students, to academicians or professionals, can interact.
HG Loves: Their drive to use film as a medium to stir up action and change is inspiring. If you’ve got an idea for a documentary in the pipeline, you should get in touch.
VII. Lightcube Film Society
“Our ambition is revival, not invention.”
Firm believers in the notion that films should be screened in venues beyond conventional theatres, the Lightcube Film Society aims to present a more wholesome viewing experience. Disseminating culture is their main goal, which they try to do by revising film screening habits — panel discussions, program notes and post-film discussions are no longer a thing of the past here. Video criticism, video exhibitions and collaborations with other film societies are all part of the experience.
HG Loves: Besides the film society, we especially love their alternative, quarterly newspaper on screen culture and cinema in India; Umbra. The newspaper boasts of film reviews, interviews, unique festivals, rare reprints and reports.
“India’s largest short film club.”
One of India’s most popular short film clubs, if you’re the kind of person who can’t fathom the thought of sitting through an entire movie, you’ll love this. Plus, the people behind this (Two Plus Productions) are the pioneers of the Short Film space in India, so you can safely assume that you’re in good hands when you sign up. They explore this genre thoroughly, showcasing work from India, and all over the world.
HG Loves: The passion they have, and the constant events they host for their Short Film enthusiasts, are indeed commendable.
Representational Feature Image Credits — Cool Hunting