The Cinema Travellers
Shirley Abraham & Amit Madheshiya – USA 2016 – 96 MIN
Thursday, November 3
6:30 PM – Bookshelf Cinema – $12
Hindi & Marathi w/ English Subtitles
Advance tickets available for this screening
HISTORIAN DAVID J. KNIGHT WILL LEAD A POST-FILM DISCUSSION
Cannes prize-winning The Cinema Travellers is a journey with the traveling cinemas of India, which bring the wonder of the movies to faraway villages annually. Seven decades on, as their lorries and cinema projectors crumble and film reels become scarce, their audiences are lured by slick digital technology. Filmed over five years, The Cinema Travellers accompanies a shrewd exhibitor, a benevolent showman and a maverick projector mechanic who bear a beautiful burden – to keep the last traveling cinemas of the world running.
More than 120 years after its birth, cinema retains its power to inspire awe in spectators. Sadly, however, one of the world’s most wondrous film-exhibition models is nearing extinction. India’s travelling tent cinemas have been delivering movies to distant villages for seven decades, but the projectors are collapsing, celluloid is becoming a rarity, and patrons are being lured away by the marvels of television and digital devices. This beautiful new documentary, by filmmakers Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya, explores the incredible legacy of tent cinemas even as its most stalwart purveyors ride into the sunset.
The Cinema Travellers begins with eager crowds bustling around the colourful carnival tent at whose entrance a barker promises “movies to touch your soul.” Inside that tent, resourceful exhibitors scramble to set up, using mud packs to steady their aging equipment. Once the movie begins, however, all that busyness gives way to the magic on screen. Madheshiya, who’s an accomplished photographer, captures the spectators’ rapt faces in poignant still images.
Abraham and Madheshiya follow the exhibitors as they traverse the state of Maharashtra in rust-covered trucks, struggling to keep their operation running in the face of rain-outs, and resisting the temptation to adopt new technologies that may not prove sustainable in territories lacking reliable internet. Along the way, we’re introduced to the beguiling Prakash, a crackerjack repairman and inventor: he invites Abraham and Madheshiya to his workshop, where he proudly displays his self-oiling projector. It is an ingenious innovation — no matter that it’s nearly obsolete.
“Lyrically edited and gorgeously shot, The Cinema Travellers is an affectionate elegy for a disappearing trade that still brings joy to so many.”
The Cinema Travellers premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and recently at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Directors – Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya
The Cinema Travellers is the debut feature film of Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya. The film premiered as Official Selection at Cannes Film Festival 2016 and won the Special Jury Prize- L’Oeil d’or: Le Prix du documentaire.
Cannes prize-winning Shirley Abraham is a documentary film maker. Her work is supported by the Sundance Institute, Bertha Foundation, Filmmaker Fund, PMA WorldView, and Asian Network of Documentary. She has previously directed documentaries for the Guardian and Al Jazeera English. She has been a fellow of Sundance Labs, Cluster of Excellence “Asia Europe in a Global Context”, TasveerGhar, India Foundation for the Arts and Goethe-Institut.
Amit Madheshiya is a photographer and Cannes prize-winning filmmaker. His photographs have won awards from World Press Photo (2011) and World Photography Awards (2011 and 2009). His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions worldwide. He is a fellow of Sundance Institute, Goethe-Institut, India Foundation for the Arts, National Foundation of India, Arts Council of England and the University of Heidelberg.
Host: David J. Knight
David J. Knight will lead a post-film discussion connecting The Cinema Travellers with Guelph’s early cinematic history. Knight is Editor-in-Chief of Vocamus Editions, University of Guelph alumnus and Campus Author (2008, 2013/14, 2014/15). He is the founder and CEO of Fenylalanine Publishing and recently released XAGGERA, a magazine of art. David has formerly been involved with the Guelph Film Festival and organized an exhibition of the cinema history of Guelph at Ed Video Media Arts Centre and at the Guelph Civic Museum. He is also active in local heritage.