Guwahati, Sep 29 (IANS) As the film industry in northeast India struggles to keep itself afloat, there is an emerging trend that might just become its lifeboat - short films.
A group of young filmmakers from Assam who are part of a group called Adda, which is Assamese for 'informal gathering', has taken up the cause of promoting alternative, new and creative cinema in the region.
Formed in 2004, this socio-cultural forum organises a short film festival every year in October. This year, the festival is to start Oct 31.
'Our motive is to take quality films, irrespective of the length, to the people. We lay emphasis on short films that do not exceed 15 minutes. And we are lucky to have got a good response not only from the intelligentsia but also from common people,' says Amarjyoti Deka, the coordinator for this year's event.
'Our shows are held in open grounds by the roadside to encourage the public to come. The entire ambience of film viewing is given a different perspective with the pleasant autumn weather adding to it,' says Deka.
Last year, the festival received 52 entries, from which the jury chose 22 for screening. The jury comprised prominent filmmakers from the region, Bidyut Chakraborty, Sanjeev Hazarika and Sagar Sangam Sarkar.
The event showcased award-winning films like Gitanjali Rao's 'Printed Rainbow' and also films from the Films Division of India. This year too the organisers are expecting a similar, if not greater, response in the three categories, namely short films, documentary and animation.
'We receive entries from all northeastern states and we have plans to take the festival to other venues around the region, which we had been unable to do so far due to various constraints,' says Deka.
'But we have managed to take our films to different places in Assam like Tezpur, Silchar and Karimganj. In fact, we got a tremendous response in the Barak Valley. We would also like local clubs in rural areas to help us take our films to the masses,' he adds.
The basic idea behind this festival is to provide an alternative genre to the people who are time and again subjected to typical Bollywood 'masala' films.
The Assamese film industry, which has had a rich history ever since its beginning in 1935, is facing its worst crisis ever. The same can be said of the other regional language films in this part of the country.
Films have lost their charm leading to dwindling audiences in the cinema halls, further resulting in the closure of many theatres. This novel approach hopefully will turn the fortunes of the industry, he says.
Altaf Mazid, a noted Assamese filmmaker and critic, feels filmmakers who have followed the Bollywood style of making movies have failed dismally.
'We now need a creative approach, which is modern, young and fresh in outlook for filmmaking to fill this vacuum. Assam and the neighbouring states have many languages and communities and short films, if made in different languages, have a huge potential for income generation. But we also have to take our films outside the region and therefore the films have to be of international standards,' he says.
'When in Cannes, I got to see wonderful films from Paraguay and Rwanda. These countries did not have such an early start but they are taking the entire world by storm,' he says.
'And it is not because of big budgets or anything but because they portray their own cultural ethos and at the same time cater to a larger audience,' he adds.
India's northeast has produced many stalwarts who have received international acclaim like Bhabendra Nath Saikia, Jahnu Barua, Aribam Syam Sarma and so on. Mazid feels Adda films also have the potential to make a mark internationally. What they lack is distribution and marketing networks.
But things may look up. 'We have decided to take select films to European film festivals this year,' Mazid says.
This would definitely encourage the film industry in the region to make good films and help revive the fading glory of regional cinema.