Creating art film audience important than making movies: Film

Renowned film curator and critic Premendra Mazumder on Saturday said creating an audience for art cinema is more important than making movies, as emphasised by filmmaker Satyajit Ray.

Moderating an open forum on 'Popularising Film as an Art Form' at the ongoing third edition of the Guwahati International Film Festival (GIFF) here, Majumder said film festivals can play a very important role in bringing good cinema to the people.

"Satyajit Ray, the most visionary filmmaker in Asia, never wanted to make cinema. He had said that first, we have to create the right audience to understand films," Mazumder said.

The film critic said, Ray started the first film society movement in India in 1947 and commenced shooting for iconic 'Pather Panchali' five years after that.

"In 1922, (Vladimir) Lenin had said that cinema is the most popular art form while legendary filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak had asserted that cinema is an art and that is war for him," he said.

Majumder, also a renowned film society activist, said that former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had started the International Film Festival of India in 1952 to popularise cinema as an art.

"Nearly 25 years after commencement of IFFI, West Bengal government was the first among the states to start a film festival. Kerala followed suit the next year while Assam was the last to do so," he said.

He said GIFF was necessary for the screening of art films.

Mazumder said some governments have even brought film policy without much success.

Citing the example of Sergei Eisenstein's classic film 'Battleship Potemkin', Majumder said even art films can be propaganda-oriented.

"Satyajit Ray had watched 'Battleship Potemkin' 64 times, while Ghatak had said his films are propaganda," he said.

National Award-winning filmmaker Manju Bora, however, said cinema should not be propaganda and any message for the society should be conveyed keeping the aesthetic elements intact.

"We are not doing anything to send social messages. Cinema is an art form and it should remain as such. There are other departments for spreading propaganda," she said.

National Award-winning film critic Apurba Sharma said people will not watch a film if they cannot identify themselves with it.

"Cinema is enjoyed in a community, not alone," he said.

Film critic Christopher Dalton said, with movies of over Rs 100-crore budget being made, the entire focus of the art has shifted towards making money.

Organised by Assam state government-owned Jyoti Chitraban Society in association with Dr Bhupen Hazarika Regional Government Film and Television Institute, GIFF will showcase over 100 acclaimed movies from 65 countries between October 31 and November 6.

The third GIFF began with the screening of Iranian film 'Charcoal' (Komur) by director Esmaeel Monsef and will end with that of 'To The Desert' (Al Desierto) by Argentinian director Ulises Rosell.

Five films from Iran, the 'focus country' of the fest this year, will be shown, while seven films from Latin America and the Carribean will be screened.

Also, films from countries such as Hungary, Israel, South Korea, Spain, Iceland, China, Bhutan, Germany, Japan, Russia, Syria and other nations will be screened.