Film Heritage Foundation (FHF) director and filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, who is one of the organisers of the upcoming International Workshop on Film Preservation and Restoration at the National Film Archives of India (NFAI), said that India needs to develop more film archives to give justice to its ever expanding film industry.
“The US has more than 25 archives. A small country like UK has more than 10. And we, despite having seven important regional film industries, which produce more than 1,000 films a year, are dependent only on NFAI,” Dungarpur said.
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“I understand how difficult it is for the NFAI staff to maintain all the data that India produces every year. Historically, there have been movements in Kerala and Tamil Nadu for separate archives. And Kerala is now in the process of building one. I really think we need to have domestic archives, apart from a central one,” Dungarpur added.
The 10-day workshop between February 26 and March 6 would comprise of lectures and practical sessions on various topics related to film conservation, digitisation, restoration and the technical aspects of film archiving. The course has been designed by David Walsh, head of the technical commission of FIAF, taking into consideration Indian conditions and requirements.
The lecturers hail from prestigious international institutions specialised in art preservation including George Eastman Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Selznick School of Film Preservation and L’immagine Ritrovata. “It’s a landmark event for NFAI. Nearly 48 students have already enrolled for the course and some are from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh too,” informed Prakash Magdum, Director NFAI.
The international faculty include David Walsh, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Davide Pozzi, Richard Wright, Thelma Ross, Camille Blot Wellens, Spencer Christiano, Nancy Kauffman, Taina Miller, Banjamin Tucker, Jurij Meden, Marianna De Sanctis, Silvia Spadotto, Gilles Barberis, Emanuele Vissani, Christophe Dupin and Kristen Merola.
Speaking on the occasion, Spencer, Chief Projectionist at George Eastman Museum, who is specialised in projection of nitrate films, a rapidly disappearing medium, said, “I’m excited to be in India. Often, a projectionist is known to be the man behind the curtain. However, the role of a projectionist is very crucial for archival of a film. He can increase the life of a film by operating it in a certain way. I would surely love to share my knowledge with the participants.”
Addressing the question of employability of the candidate after the course, Dungarpur said, “As the NFAI is hosting the course, they’ll definitely be keenly observing the candidates and if they find merit, they might even hire someone. Other than NFAI too, there are many international institutes who are looking at quality preservationists. We also have non-technical candidates who are private collectors. In fact, in India, every second man is a private collector. The course will benefit them too.”
The workshop would be inaugurated by veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah and Sunil Arora, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting Ministry on February 25, at 6 pm. It would be followed by the screening of Dadasaheb Phalke’s silent film ‘Kalia Mardan’ with live musical performance by Kshama Vaidya and group.