Hot Docs 2015: Journey with Prabhat – Samarth Dixit & Jessica Sadana

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Film preservation, and cinematic history are a huge part of Western culture, as we restore, and catalogue our seemingly endless collection of films, so I was rather interested to see how things played out in other countries.

Prabhat Studios was a big and well-recognized Indian studio when talkies came along. After that, though it fell  into disrepair and disuse, until it opened its doors as a film institute. Dixit and Sadana, two of the institute’s students decided to turn their cameras onto the studios, to preserve and capture some of the stories, legacy of the studio as well as its history, some of which is literally painted on the walls.

What follows is a historical document, a modest monument to celluloid and cinematic storytelling that few of us in the west even know about.

Interspersed with recollections from the few still-living artists, are photos, film clips, and glimpses at the seemingly eternal magic of the silver screen.   Directors, creators and stories from the past becoming flickering ghosts on the screen, watching over the studios, and the teachers and students who work and study there.

Everything is still there at the studio, and films both from yesteryear, and today can be made completely on site, there are exteriors, interiors, sets, backdrops and props, and each of them has a story.

While it may not be necessarily paced for Western audiences (it’s always amazing to see how different cultures tell their stories), it’s a fascinating look at a different time, and the struggle that the current students and teachers face in their attempts to preserve the film culture that the studio helped to create.

A gentle, informative film that gives the viewer a peek at film making.

Did you get a chance to see this one?

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