Since the last three decades and a half, the aim of Aurofilm has been and is to use Cinema as a tool for education, artistic and creative research. Along with the production of short films during the year and setting up regular screenings of quality films, an annual film festival and other related events, we wish to offer to the Auroville community and the attending visitors, a way to develop taste and discernment as well as to strengthen the sense of Unity, which goal Auroville is aiming at. All this is done non commercially thanks to the SAIIER umbrella.
Activities of the year:
After a rather chaotic last year – in terms of film shows – our team (still composed of Gérard Carabin, Susana Cabra and Surya CR) restarted in April its regular Friday film screenings at Multi Media Centre (MMC), Town Hall, and almost without interruption (except for 2 weeks in May with MMC being closed for repairs, and the month of June for our team’s summer break).
At the end of September (24th to 30th), the first ever Pondicherry International Film Festival (PIFF) was organized, and thanks to our long time contact with film critic and now director of the PIFF, Saibal Chatterjee from Delhi, we were asked to relay this one week Pondicherry event in Auroville. The Bharat Nivas Auditorium was not available, so at MMC 9 long and 7 short film were presented by the Cinema Paradiso team, while Aurofilm chose 4 long and 2 shorts to be shown towards the end of the event.
On another hand, we successfully organized our annual PCIC (Panorama of Contemporary Indian Cinema), in its 11th issue with a selection of 10 films within 3 days. The festival was held like all previous years at the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, Bharat Nivas, which was finally reopened for cultural programs. (Please see separate report.)
Once more our selection of films for the above event originated from our participation in the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa last November. (Please also see our separate report for this activity.)
In August, in collaboration with the Auroville Theatre Group, we had a special screening of Orson Welles’ famous film “Citizen Kane” (1940) since their performance was around Orson Welles, a creative genius!
Regarding our film production work, our young film director from Kerala, Jinu Thomas, finally completed his documentary film on Auroville. Its final title is “Auroville – From Seed To Sapling”; it is a 51 min. film retracing the Auroville journey from its inception until now, 50 years after. On the Auroville’s 51st Birthday (28 February 2019) Aurofilm premiered it at the Multi Media Center. The 150 seat auditorium was full, and Jinu was present with us. Surya introduced the work and after the screening, the film director gladly and simply answered quite many questions the audience had. The interaction was warm and pleasant; the audience appreciative, in spite of a few technical flaws that we are in the process of correcting. The sound engineer happened to be here as well and could clarify a comment. Jinu then placed the film on YouTube and we kept it there for a month. Now we are in the process of finalizing the subtitles and produce a proper DVD with several subtitle tracks on it. This new documentary should soon be available at the Visitor’s Centre and with us for distribution for whoever wishes to screen it.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, a total of 56 films were selected and screened. So, we can say we are somehow back to our usual average. Our selection still goes for 8 films categories that are evenly distributed every month all along the year. It benefits mostly the adults as we are not specialised in children's movies – even though we do have some films for the general audience and/or very much for the young ones, spread out in the year. We always keep in mind some of the words the Mother said about Cinema: “Children below fifteen years will see only educational films. Care should be taken in selecting films to be shown in Auroville.” “All that encourages the lower movements and actions must be avoided.” And “Films are permitted in the Ashram not as an amusement but as part of education. So we are faced with the problem of education.” These statements have been our guidance through all these years, even though we do not want to be rigid about the subject. Education is a vast domain and the Mother allows space for discerning and deciding the most appropriate – according to where we are, and what is available.
Perhaps because we tend to repeat our usual activities year after year without much change but for a new film festival coming our way (the PIFF), or a new film production from time to time (like with Jinu Thomas last year), we have taken the challenge to prepare ourselves – and materially in our film studio in the Cultural Zone – for new programs for the coming year. We are hopeful and enthusiastic about that project and have seen that immediately after the thoughts came, resource persons started to appear around us! We should not fear anything and just prepare some good programs with qualified invitees and useful & thoughtful topics. With efficient communication we will call the interested youth and people who would like to go further in the research with us. This is the part we want to guide in a more specific way through our next year project of film related happenings in Kalabhoomi.