The 9th Madurai Documentray and Short Film Festival, is an annual event in the city of Madurai. Like its previous years this year also the film festival, held between December 5 to 9, 2007, was spread across the city and villages around Madurai. In the city, there were regular screenings during the day at various colleges. The evening screenings were held at the MUTA Hall, and also Tamilnadu Theological Seminary. The film festival also traveled to villages like Perunkudi, Usilampatti, Thirupuvanam, Narimedu, Kodimangalam and Sirkali.. The film festival had five primary sections: ‘Retrospective’, ‘Rest Of India’, ‘International Films’, ‘Under Construction’ and ‘Films from Tamilnadu’. There were 10 films in the ‘Under Construction’ (UC) package. In five days, the film festival screened 95 films to an audience spread out all over the city and nearby villages.
The 9th Madurai Documentray and Short Film Festival, is an annual event in the city of Madurai. Like its previous years this year also the film festival was spread across the city and villages around Madurai. In the city there were regular screenings during the day in Madura College, Lady Doak College, American College, Arul Anandhar College, and Tamilnadu Theological Seminary. Followed by evening screenings in MUTA Hall, and also Tamilnadu Theological Seminary. The film festival also traveled to villages like Perunkudi, Usilampatti, Thirupuvanam, Narimedu, Kodimangalam and Sirkali.
Prior to the festival a very interesting selection process was undertaken. Faculty from the 5 participating colleges as well as NGO representatives were asked to become a part of the selection committee that eventually had 30 members. Starting from September 2007 each weekend one member institution hosted the others for viewing films to select. A basic quorum was maintained. In this manner over the 3 months leading up to the festival a large scale mobilisation of local people took place. Eventually 5 academic institutions and nearly 15 NGOs participated and took ownership of the festival. They also raised a part of the budget or contributed in kind by providing screening facilities or hospitality.
The opening ceremony was held at Victoria Edward Manram. Prof. Ismail, Secretary of the Manram, presided at the function. Ms. Sherifa of STEPS and Mr. Rajan of Yadharta Film Society, Dr. Murali, Head of Department of Philosophy, Madura College felicitated the function. Amudhan R P, the coordinator of the film festival introduced the festival. ‘Devathaigal’ a documentary directed by Leena Manimekalai and ‘Myths About You’ an animation film by Nandita Jain were screened under the moonlight. The opening ceremony was well attended by activists and academics from the city, and this venue being in the middle of the city was very well attended.
The film festival had five primary sections ‘Retrospective’, ‘Rest Of India’, ‘International Films’, ‘Under Construction’ and ‘Films from Tamilnadu’. Each section of films were shown in every venue of the film festival and screened in a very interesting manner. There were around 10 films in the ‘Under Construction’ (UC) package, and another heartening development was that both the senior filmmakers Madhusree Dutta and R V Ramani, whose films were screened under the ‘Retrospective’ section, also feature in the UC list of films. There were 4/5 films screened of each directors, for the ‘Retrospective’. In totality the film festival had around 95 films on its list.
The venues primarily being colleges other than two public venues, consisted of mostly students, in which there were around 70 to 80 regulars. In the public venues it increased to 200 to 300. The number of people in each venue increased with each passing day of the festival. Many filmmakers with also the ‘Retrospective’ directors were present at the film festival and most of their films were followed by a discussion. The discussion most of the time was in local language, with someone translating, but some of them at the colleges were also in English. The students had many interesting questions, which showed the involvement of the audience. Some of these discussions stretched far beyond their prescribed time, so much that the next film screening would inadvertently get delayed. Thus, sometimes it was found out that the films missed from the previous days screening, would get showed the next day, this was made possible by starting the film festival early on the following day day/venue, by adding those films to the schedule. Overall, it was heartening to see people connecting with issues from all across the world, wherein concerns refused to remain local.
Under Construction also had a display of all the films that are under its distribution initiative at the film festival.
A report by Priyanka Mukherjee
Films contributed by Magic Lantern Foundation
- Planeta Alemania: Observations from invisibility (Dogfilm, Germany)
- Bushman’s Secret (Rehad Desai, South Africa)
- Born Into Struggle (Rehad Desai, South Africa)
- My Land My Life (Rehad Desai, South Africa)
- P(l)ain Truth (Ilppo Pohjola, Finland)
- Gender Trouble (Roz Mortimer, UK)
- Born At Home (Sameera Jain, India)
- From Dust (Dhruv Dhawan, Sri Lanka/UAE)
- A Car for a Dollar (Maximilian Spohr and Reiner Derdau, Canada)
- Half Moon Files (Philip Scheffner)
The film Half Moon Files is not distributed by Under Construction, but the filmmaker allowed Magic Lantern Foundation to screen the film in India. Under Construction also provided films for the Retrospective sections of Madhusree Dutta and R. V. Ramani.