There is no disagreeing to the fact that we Indians are bitten by the Bollywood bug and we are a visual audience. We love our song and dance routine and the moving images that give us a sense of escapist pleasure from our monotonous lives. It’s no wonder we are one of the largest producers of films in the world across a variety of different spectrums, including regional cinema, independent cinema and much more. However, an audience bitten by the bug of the silver screen is mostly unaware of a large number of films made outside the purview of big production houses. Reason – lack of an alternate screening platform for alternate modes of cinema, like short films and documentaries.

But what do these alternate modes of cinema really mean? What does independent filmmaking mean? Colloquially speaking, Independent Cinema refers to 2 aspects of the process. It’s either the format, which could be a short film, feature film or a documentary film. Secondly, it’s the way the film is funded. It is essentially backed or sponsored by individuals or a government entity without expecting a certain return to the investment. This expectation frees the filmmaker from employing a certain formula to expect box office returns and hence he or she can tell a creative story that is true to the filmmaker’s vision. By this, I don’t mean to say that mainstream commercial cinema does not have interesting stories to tell. Mainstream cinema is definitely engaging us with more interesting stories. However, alternate cinema has no platform to reach an audience. But of late, many harbingers of change are emerging and taking short and long format stories to newer heights, which they rightfully deserve.

Here is a list of platforms you can check out to see the latest short films and documentaries:

1. 1080mb (All India)

1018mb is a web-platform that lets you choose the movies that play at your local theatre. They not only organise screenings of films you choose but also keep you posted about other screenings happening around the city through their active Facebook page.

2. Vikalp @ Prithvi (Mumbai)

It is a monthly series of documentaries and short films brought to you by Vikalp: Films for Freedom in collaboration with Prithvi Theatre in Bombay. All screenings are free and are held on the last Friday of every month at Prithvi House in Juhu at 7 pm. All you have to do is share your email ID with them and they let you know what is the latest you are going to see at Prithvi.

3. SHAMIANA- The short film club (All India)

One of the country’s most dedicated and fastest growing short film club, it is passionate about showcasing the finest shorts from India and all over the world.

What started off with just one screening at Jazz By the Bay has now expanded to 25 cities including BOMBAY, DELHI, BANGALORE, CALCUTTA, CHENNAI, PUNE, AHMEDABAD, COCHIN, LUCKNOW, GURGAON, GOA, BARODA and even NAGALAND and GUWAHATI besides other cities with regular screenings drawing packed houses!

We at Filamnt too are trying to do our bit by starting a dialogue to bring a change in the paradigm of cinema.  As Indie Cinema creates a new identity for itself, we at Filamnt are creating new ideas in watching films and are sustaining and cultivating new audiences for watching independent films.

By Riya Chhibber 

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