Window to learn film appreciation
SOYESH H RAWTHER
Film festivals provide a good platform for students to discuss world cinema and also learn new techniques and styles adopted by film-makers the world over.
Photo: R. M. Rajarathinam
GOOD CINEMA: Film festivals provide an excellent opportunity for students to understand newer techniques and styles adopted in cinema.
The sixth Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF) held in December 2008, attracted a good number of students from colleges in Chennai. Driven by a passion for films, they thronged the theatres to watch some of the masterpieces of their favourite directors and script writers. “For students of visual communication, the festival offered a practical evaluation of visual media theories. We have been coming across students taking notes and engaging in discussions when t
hey watch films,” says E. Thangaraj, general secretary, Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation (ICAF), Chennai, and artistic director of the sixth CIFF. Visual communication courses have greatly enhanced the students’ interest in world cinema. D. Balaji, coordinator, department of communication, SRM Arts and Science College, Kattankulathur, says the institution allows its students to participate in the International Film Festival of Goa (IFFI) and other regional festivals.
SRM runs courses in visual communication and electronic media at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. “Classics are screened every week for the benefit of students and through this exercise, we introduce them to the various techniques in film making and also to the aesthetic aspects of films,” saysMr. Balaji.
“At the beginning of the programme, students have a limited understanding of films. Gradually, film appreciation modules help them think beyond commercial cinema. The ‘larger than life’ image fades away and they begin to look at cinema as a serious medium.”
According to Mr. Balaji, films can be studied like any other professional course. “Since the entertainment and media industries in India attract huge investments from all over the world, job opportunities are good,” he says.
Festivals promoting good films, which are a class apart from the mainstream productions, provide multi-dimensional benefits to all students. They get a glimpse of various cultures across the world.
They echo the spirit of Article 8 of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001) which says that cultural goods cannot be treated as mere commodities.
UNESCO emphasizes implementation of the declaration in its action plan as follows: “Promoting through education an awareness of the positive value of cultural diversity and improving to this end both curriculum design and teacher education.”
For those who dream of entering the challenging field of cinema, festivals are a major preparation ground. Mr. Thangaraj points out that such events serve as the right platform for students to be exposed to the technical brilliance of foreign film-makers. “It encourages budding film-makers here to raise their standards.”
The Indo-Korean Cultural and Information Centre (InKo Centre), Chennai, makes use of film festivals and seminars to extend the cultural dialogue between India and South Korea.
“Our aim is to stimulate a dialogue between people of two countries using film as a medium,” says Rathi Jafer, Director, Inko Centre. In 2008, around 5,000 delegates, including students, participated in the Women’s Film Festival (WFF) organised by InKo Centre in Chennai. Ms. Jafer thinks films appeal to students of all subjects. “Last year, students had interactive sessions with directors. We give special concessions to students and they are free to use our film screening facilities,” she says.
The InKo centre is gearing up for the second edition of WFF scheduled for March 2009. This edition showcases films that give importance to women’s perspectives. As part of the festival, an international seminar on ‘The Eye Behind the Camera: Looking at Films’ will be organised this year.
Henry Victor, head, department of visual communication, School of Media Studies, Loyola College, says film appreciation courses help students critique movies meaningfully. Loyola College offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in visual communication.
“We regularly screen films and offer a course on Script Writing,” says Mr. Victor.
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