The Cinema Travelers (2016)

The Cinema Travelers (2016) is a multi-award winning Indian film co-directed by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya. Structurally, this devastatingly beautiful documentary has direct cinema qualities. The camera crew unobtrusively follows the ins and outs of three cinephiles as they come to terms with the fact their profession and livelihood are at stake. The Cinema Travelers captures their realization that movies shot on photochemical film is increasingly becoming a thing of the past.  Mohammed, a traveling showmen and family man, recognizes that he is part in a dying industry and promptly seeks out alternative technologies to keep his business afloat. Bapu, a grouchy film exhibitor struggles to maintain his film screening business as he tries to restore his rusted up cinema lorry.  The most touching story is of Prakash, a kind man who has dedicated 45 years of his life to becoming a world class mechanic who specializes in fixing film projectors.  His story stood out to me, mainly because of his positive approach to life. He is an inventor, a real ideas-man; he has developed a prototype for a ‘perfect’ projector but is too late to capitalize on his concept as the digital era is already upon us.

The film highlights the fact that there has been another major shift forward in the film industries and film technologies have progressed. The stories explored in The Cinema Travelers also bring to light the fact that there is such a massive distinction between the Western World and Third World nations. There were comical themes that developed with the way the characters in the film would physically handle the film and the film canisters. Early in the film the viewer begins to follow a particular film reel around India as it is shared amongst various film exhibitors. The film reels are thrown into hessian bags and then thrown from the top of the lorry and ‘plonked’ on the ground. It is humorous because the men in charge are fighting amongst themselves, arguing over who had damaged the film, while the workers packing up all of the gear a throwing the bag full of film reels around quite willy-nilly. The film has a poetic undertone and tells a unique version of the typical contemporary culture clash. The Cinema Travelers won the Halekulni Golden Orchid Award at the 2016 Fall Hawaii International Film Festival for the Best Documentary Feature, and it was a well deserved win.

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One thought on “The Cinema Travelers (2016)

  1. I unfortunately was not able to view this at HIFF! I even highlighted it as a top priority. 😦 Luckily, with your review I was able to grasp the concept behind the themes and it sounds just as wonderful as you wrote. I like how the film to a character approach and focused on the humans behind the screenings. I am thankful we are able to watch films so effortlessly but I know there must be a magical feeling for the audiences who rely on the individuals who travel with film.

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