Focusing on the aesthetics vs. politics debates and various ideological conundrums inherent in the Film Society Movement in Kerala, a South Indian state, this paper attempts to excavate its various and scattered histories. Breaking the movement into three key phases, the study focuses on the cultural transformations in both viewing and production of films that film societies made possible. Criticized, in the early years, for a being an elite group of film aficionados, the subsequent period in the history of the movement acquired a mass movement orientation emerging from an escalating dissatisfaction with the cultural exclusivity of the movement. The paper studies the journey of the movement and the ways in which the film society movement marked a rupture in the prevailing cinematic practices in the state. The contemporary period of the movement is studied against the backdrop of technological and cultural experiences of globalization, and the emerging forms of new cinephilia. Through a quest to uncover the cultural project of film societies, I argue that despite the ideological tussles, infrastructural shortfalls, a myriad of other cinematic and extra-cinematic challenges, the movement’s involvement in rethinking Malayalam cinema and facilitating a radical film culture in Kerala is indisputable, and the journey from a humble effort of a small group of passionate film aficionados to an extensive movement for good cinema has been historic.
Film Society, Film Cultures, Mass Movement, Radical, Politics, Aesthetics
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Nisam Asaf Kolathur Jamaludheen
PhD Scholar, Cinema Studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
I am a research scholar currently enrolled with the Department of Cinema Studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.