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Democratisation of cinema brings best films to India

Still from the animated Sintel (left) and ViveLe Film (right)

hose who dream of making a film without a big budget or technical backup can live in hope. The Disposable Film Festival, which has the reputation of having 'democratised cinema' worldwide, is here in India for the first time with a screening of some of the best entries it has received so far.

Created in 2007 and voted by MovieMaker Magazine as one of America's 'coolest film festivals', it celebrates well made, low tech films that omit the need for sophisticated equipment and opens up the medium of filmmaking to one and all. About 26 short films of up to 10 minutes each will be screened at the Greenhouse in Hauz Khas Village from March 18-25. Although made by people from around the world, the list doesn't feature an Indian name yet.

The films were made with everyday equipment, cellphone cameras, webcams, digital cameras, etc. In other words, videos which otherwise are disposed off have been made into films. The idea behind the screening is to encourage people to play with filmmaking, no matter what type of equipment they have. "There are lot of teenagers, college students, and young adults in India who have real talent and interest in filmmaking. But they may not have the money or access to good equipment. However, they do have camera phones or point-and-shoot cameras. I hope this festival encourages them to play and create films with whatever resources available to them," says Kassia Karr, coordinator for the Greenhouse. The deadline for submissions is November 30.

From disposable films to award winning short films, Delhi's film circuit seems to be abuzz this month. India Habitat Centre is collaborating with Shamiana Short Film Society to showcase the best short films from across the world on March 26.

"Considering the kind of films Bollywood is showing these days, true cinema lovers feel a little disappointed. Hence, we started the Shamiana short film club. In Delhi, we will be showing six short films of 2-20 minutes each," says Cyrus Dastur, Founder, Shamiana Film Club.

The list of films is impressive. There are films from India, Germany, Netherlands and Palestine. From Germany, there is Oscar-winning short film Countdown which shows the last few minutes of a man's life. Vishal Bharadwaj's Blood Brothers made on behalf of the Bill Gates' foundation. It stars the South Indian actor Siddharth as a young man who, after finding out that he is HIV+, allows his life to fall apart. From Netherlands, there is Sintel, an animation which follows the story of a young girl who goes on a dangerous quest to save her best friend, a baby dragon.

Next in line is a short docu-drama, Poor Cousins Of Million Dollar Babies. It is based on the not-so-pleasant state of the Indian women's cricket team. The Last Leaf is an animation from India based on global warming. The film from Palestine is Closed Zone and shows the closure of the Gaza Strip and how it affects the 1.5 million people living there.

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