We, as humans, as social beings, need entertainment in our daily lives. It has been a way for us to pass down our culture, values and even history from one generation to the other. In the ancient times, modes such as puppetry shows, folklore, and religious programs were popular for the purpose but the 20th century technologies introduced us to an unprecedented experience called cinema – a mesmerizing combination of art, literature and science.
Viewed with fervor and a sense of wonder, films soon became indispensible parts of our lives. Watching films became a collective activity; often a neighbourhood event as only a few families owned television sets back in the day. Even today, we visit theaters and multiplexes with our friends and families to share in the experience of cinema – to laugh together, to share the pain of tragedies, to hum the familiar tunes and be awed by the grand spectacle in unison.
This idea of a shared experience is best imbibed in the concept of film festivals, a timeless tradition that began in the 1930s and continues to be cherished by millions of movie buffs across the world. Film societies emerged as a parallel to the growing popularity of Hollywood in Venice and Cannes, soon after followed by Berlin and New York. India also had its own international film festival by the early 1950s.
These events brought together different audiences as a community. They encouraged dialogue and an atmosphere of bonhomie between the participants. But more importantly, they brought together films from across the globe, films representing a myriad of cultures and lifestyles which contributed to our understanding of the world outside our physical boundaries. In an increasingly polarized world, film festivals continue to stand apart as voices of the underrepresented and the misrepresented. As tools of social expression, they remind us that regardless of our differences in language or clothing or lifestyles, we are bound by our shared experiences as humans.
DME, Media School