Directors Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya have been traveling the world with 'Travellers,' poetic evocation of India's itinerant theaters
The Cinema Travellers continues to dazzle film critics and festival-goers around the world.
After earning a top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the documentary by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya just added another honor to its portfolio: the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
The film is a wondrous journey through an imperiled cinematic custom in India: "traveling movie houses" that for decades took films to remote areas of the country where people might not otherwise have been able to see a film projected onto a screen. The advent of digital projection has diminished some of the magic of this visually poetic tradition.
According to Vimooz.com, HIFF juror Pamela Young declared, "One film in particular transported us on a lyrical exploration of cultural and technological transitions, where the analog nature of celluloid film projection crumples to make way for a digital future.”
Abraham celebrated the HIFF win via tweet:
As her tweet indicates, the next stop for The Cinema Travellers is the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam [IDFA], which opens Wednesday and runs until November 27 in the Dutch capital.
The film is scheduled to screen several times at IDFA: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week, along with Thursday, November 24 and Sunday, November 27, the closing day of the festival.
Abraham and Madheshiya directed and produced the film. Madheshiya shot it and Abraham did sound. They also co-edited the project. IDFA provided this description of The Cinema Travellers:
An affectionate, melancholy ode to a vanishing phenomenon in rural India: the traveling cinema. The huge projector has been repaired countless times by its ingenious operator. The tent and screen have seen better days, and the rusty truck that carries it all from place to place won’t hold out much longer. And even in the most remote villages, there is competition from TV. But this doesn’t deter the crew from doggedly carrying on. Nevertheless, modern technology is making its mark. Will the hard drive be the traveling cinema’s savior? Beautifully filmed observations of the ups and downs of life in and around the cinema – the tent is constantly on the move – are punctuated by the musings of the elderly projectionist in his workshop. He dreamily tells of his love for cinema as the camera shows us the dusty film canisters and homemade projector. Time seems to stand still, yet transience is palpable.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.