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Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, Sreebala K Menon, others discuss cinema with film lovers at 'Bridge' session

The first ever Bridge session was held at the Kazhcha Indie Film Festival 2017 (KIFF) on Friday.

Photo: Kazhcha Film Forum


The first ever Bridge session at the Kazhcha Indie Film Festival (KIFF) 2017 took place on the sloping roof top of an auditorium at the Lenin Baravadi grounds in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday night.

The concept of a Bridge, unknown to many in India, is that filmmakers, actors, film enthusiasts and critics gather at a place to discuss anything and everything pertaining to films.

The entire session, which began at 9.30 pm, was filled with queries, suggestions, answers, advice and opinions, and dealt with a variety of topics – ranging from problems independent filmmakers face to censorship policies.

Director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, who was present at the Bridge, said the idea of introducing a midnight open chat forum at KIFF was inspired from the nightly chat sessions at the Yerevan International Film Festival in Armenia. 

Describing the experience at Yerevan, director Sasidharan said that the chat sessions there generally run well into the night, with the participants drinking and engaging in animated and protracted discussions about the films that were screened during the course of the day. However, since ours is the land of prohibitions, we would have to compromise on the booze and stick to black tea instead.

Director Sreebala K Menon, winner of the Kerala State Film Award for her debut film Love 24x7, led the discussion.

Photo: Kazhcha Film Forum

Several interesting questions were mooted upon and thoughts pertaining to multiple dimensions of filmmaking were pondered over, during the discursive chat. For instance, Shahnavas Naranipuzha, director of Karie, elaborated about the intimate nature of the relationship between the art and ritual as portrayed in his film Karie and the conflicts arising therein. Subsequently, the persistence of caste biases in ritual performance was also discussed.

The filmmakers present also expressed their many concerns regarding censorship. They unequivocally claimed that the regressive and arbitrary patterns of censorship being followed in the country was perhaps the greatest injustice that had been meted out to the medium of filmmaking. They discussed how the problem of censorship has escalated so much now that the directors sometimes has to guarantee the producer that the film would receive a clean 'U' certificate. Thus, legal hassles are avoided and satellite rights sold with ease, while art and creativity take the hit.

Director Sreebala, who has previously worked in the jury at IFFK, spoke about her experience as a jury member. She revealed several insights regarding the tedious process of selecting films for different categories at the festival. Further, talking about the struggles faced by independent filmmakers, she stressed on the importance of cultivating healthy support systems within the independent filmmaking community. Moral and economic support is almost invariably felt lacking by most indie filmmakers. 

Sanal Kumar Sasidharan also talked about the importance of challenging social stigmas and rising above societal pressure. 

Filmmakers should rise to the challenge and continue creating works they find meaningful, he added.

The lively chat session which provided for an intimate exploration of independent filmmakers' lives, struggles and aspirations, came to a close around 11 pm.

By providing a platform for close interaction between the filmmaker and the audience, and essentially bridging the gap between them, the midnight open chat forum at KIFF has set an important and necessary precedent.