On Christopher Nolan’s upcoming visit to India, celluloid in digital era and preservation of film heritage

Christopher Nolan, who has directed some of the finest movies, such as The Dark Knight, Inception and Intersteller, has stuck to shooting on ‘celluloid’ even as most of the industry has switched to digital and made technological strides.

Written by Alaka Sahani | Updated: March 29, 2018 9:08:11 am
Christopher Nolan’s upcoming India visit Christopher Nolan (left) and Tacita Dean

One of the most progressive contemporary filmmakers of the world today, Christopher Nolan is also a staunch traditionalist. Nolan, who has directed some of the finest movies, such as The Dark Knight, Inception and Intersteller, has stuck to shooting on ‘celluloid’ even as most of the industry has switched to digital and made technological strides. He takes yet another step in favour of saving celluloid this weekend when he visits India. He, along with British visual artist Tacita Dean and Mumbai-based Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, founder of Film Heritage Foundation, will be part of the conversation ‘Reframing the Future of Film’ that’s scheduled on Sunday evening in Mumbai. A host of events are planned around the same over three days.

In a media statement, Nolan said, “Tacita and I are delighted to join with Shivendra and the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF) in presenting ‘Reframing the Future of Film’ in Mumbai. India has such wonderful cinema and such a rich history of art that everything needs to be done not only to encourage its proper preservation for future generations but also to reintroduce the film medium to the younger artists and filmmakers in the country.”

In 2015, Dean and Nolan staged the first in this series of events in Los Angeles’s Getty Museum, highlighting the necessity of preserving photochemical film in the digital age. They have been advocating use of film — not simply as a technology — but as a medium that offers intrinsically rich and unique qualities needed by artists and filmmakers, as well as an engaging experience for audiences. ‘Reframing the Future of Film’ brought together significant professionals for the first time from art, film preservation and the movie industry to discuss the steps that needed to be taken to protect the medium of film and its legacy. Subsequent editions have been held in London’s Tate Modern and at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City.

Dungarpur too joined this campaign in 2015 and signed the petition for “save film”. At that time, he had asked Dean that she should visit India. Last October, Dean contacted Dungarpur and said that Nolan and she had decided that they would do the next edition of ‘Reframing the Future of Film’ under the aegis of FHF. In a press statement, Dean said: “As an artist who makes and exhibits film for reasons indexical to the medium, I have had no choice but to fight to get film re-appreciated for what it is: a beautiful, robust and entirely different way of making and showing images in the museum and in the cinema. Film has characteristics integral to its chemistry and internal discipline that form my work and I cannot be asked to separate the work from the medium that I used to make it.”

On Friday, there would be a public lecture at 5 pm by Dean, a Turner Prize-nominee, at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum on ‘Process and the Non-Deliberate Act’. There is a roundtable discussion planned with prominent personalities of the Indian film industry on Saturday. This private event would be attended by Amitabh Bachchan, Sabyasachi Mukherjee (Director General of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya), Tasneem Zakaria Mehta (director of the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum), Shah Rukh Khan, Kamal Haasan, Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. There are two screenings of Nolan’s movies slotted and they would be presented the way he wishes them to be watched. On Saturday at 6 pm, there is a 70 mm IMAX film screening of Dunkirk at Carnival Cinemas, IMAX, Wadala. On Sunday at 9 pm, there is a 35 mm film screening of Interstellar at Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines. Both these screenings would be introduced by Nolan. These apart, ‘Reframing the Future of Film: In Conversation with Christopher Nolan, Tacita Dean and Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’, will be held on Sunday at NCPA’s Tata Theatre.

Dungarpur is hopeful that the support extended by Dean and Nolan would further the cause of his foundation. “Since our inception, we have been speaking for film as a shooting, exhibition and archival medium. We have been fighting a lone battle. We are sure that their advocacy will have a great impact in getting this message across to both the film and art communities in India,” he said.

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