Aurofilm is Auroville’s cine-service. It is a department of SAIIER, promoting research and study of the creative, artistic, educational and cultural values of cinema. At the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium in Bharat Nivas, every Friday evening, a film is shown, selected from a wide range of categories - Indian, western and international, recent or ‘classic, children’s films, documentaries, , experimental, etc. Every year (in February or early March) a 3-day film festival is held in the presence of film directors, actors or film critics. Aurofilm’s office/studio is located in Kalabhoomi in the Cultural Zone of Auroville. Film making through hands-on workshops, lectures on films, history of cinema and related issues are organised at the time of the festival or at any time during the year.
History & Activities
Aurofilm, the cinematic film department of Auroville, was started in 1981 (being one of the earlier SAIIER activities for education, research and culture in Auroville) and since its beginning has been dedicated to the promotion of cinema in its artistic, cultural and educational sense. This is done in a spirit of research, study and information made accessible to Aurovilians and visitors, and is materialized mainly through three branches of activity:
- Regular film shows for the community of
- Running of film workshops to prepare the
basis for a future Film Institute in Auroville, including a film production
- Other related activities.
From the start, Aurofilm was registered as a Film Society affiliated to the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI). At that time, films were received from this organization (in 16mm format), together with films from cultural centres of foreign embassies and from government film libraries. Today, thanks to the use of 35mm cine-equipment, selection possibilities are much wider.
The weekly film projections are held in the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium (570+ seats) in Bharat Nivas – the Pavilion of India – where there is a projection room equipped with a set of two 35mm cine-projectors. Every effort is made to present a wide selection of films, from many different countries, both recent and “old”, chosen for their cinematic and cultural qualities. Yearly, one or two ‘film festivals’ are organized based on a particular theme or filmmaker, with special emphasis on the new Indian cinema. Guests related to cinema are invited.
Film workshops are aimed at facilitating opportunities for studying cinema in general, as well as all the processes required to make a film, and for eventually establishing in Auroville a film production unit able to fully handle the production of films. For the time being, the workshops run whenever there is a project for making a film (documentary or fiction) or upon students’ demand relating to some particular field of study. From time to time, we organize a workshop in collaboration with a school of Auroville or the surrounding villages to give awareness on what is cinema thus opening the youth to the real scope of the 7th Art.
For the activities of the workshop, Aurofilm makes use of certain basic equipment in Auroville, but also uses the facilities of film laboratories, sound recording/mixing and editing studios in Chennai if required and whenever funds are available. The plan is to organize more of these activities and experiments for the benefit of interested Auroville students and friends of Auroville – of all ages – throughout the year.
Whenever possible, personalities from the film world are invited to give talks or present films in Auroville. Such events were organized with Mr. S.T. Baskaran, historian of cinema, Mrs. Lygia Matthews, director of “Light on the Water”, an award-winning documentary on the Snake Boats of Kerala. Mr. P.K Nair, former director-cum-curator of the National Film Archives in Pune, came twice to animate sessions on Indian Cinema and present our film festival. Renowned film director Adoor Gopalakrishnan spent 2 days in Auroville attending a 4-day festival of his films. For the Panorama of Contemporary Indian Film Festival 2010, film director Shaji N. Karun was the chief guest. Anurag Misra, director (PFF) of the DFFI, Directorate of Film Festivals in India, New Delhi, was also invited. Later the same year, a Spanish delegation invited by the Spanish Cultural Pavilion of Auroville, presented 2 recent Spanish films which were followed by a round table discussion.
Meanwhile, as much as possible, Aurofilm’s management tries to attend International Film Festivals in India to keep themselves updated on recent films. On such occasions it is also possible to meet certain film directors and distributors for the purpose of organizing rental of films, or for inviting the directors to share their work and research in Auroville.
A next step for Aurofilm and Auroville will be the foundation of a Film Institute, which includes the building of a proper movie hall – a “Cinematheque” (or film archive) so that projections, retrospectives, festivals and film studies for schools or anybody in Auroville can be proposed at any time. The purpose of this Institute is to promote quality cinema and provide information about this art in a spirit of discovery, excellence and creativity.