ABOUT LIGHTCUBE FILM SOCIETY
Lightcube film society is an agency devoted to revising film screening habits and to devise new methods and techniques to disseminate culture beyond its mainstream-specified boundaries and metropolitan nature. The agency also believes that it is imperative that films are programmed that are beyond the currently fashionable, venues are chosen that are outside of the large auditoria or seminar halls and old world methods of audience-film interaction such as panel discussions, program notes and post-film discussions are reinstated, while also including innovative new methods such as video criticism, video installations and exhibitions to present a more wholesome view of the film or the director at hand.
As a film society, it is also the belief of Lightcube that cinema or culture belongs to everyone and is too powerful a force for select circles to contain within their own boundaries – as such, in times of rampant proliferation of the new media in this century, Lightcube aims to show films in an imagined, vast, open, quickly-evolving and mobilized land – this is fulfilled by its participation in the organisation/creation of a number of cinema projects, exercises in which a film projector and some great films are carried to different parts in the country, and then screened for local audiences.
When did Lightcube start?
Lightcube was founded in April 2012 by Suraj Prasad and Anuj Malhotra. The founders were both involved with various other film-related bodies and organisations, including other film societies and government organs responsible for film festivals in their individual capacities, as well as on occasion, together. Its activities began officially with the first Dhenuki Cinema Project, a set of screenings organised in Dhenuki, Bihar, by Suraj, who used the resources at hand - bedsheets for movie screen and a projector used during marriages - to screen films for the residents of the village. The whole exercise is documented at thedhenukiproject.com
What was the initial imperative behind its formation?
Lightcube was started with a very brief initial memorandum, which included a list of stated objectives such as the mobilisation of screening spaces, which is to say that the founders were very interested in the idea of being able to take movies out of the conventional auditoria, embassy venues, or the cultural centers and show them instead in more dynamic, intimate spaces such as smaller cafes, art galleries, storefronts, etc. This initial aim was a result of the founders' interest in a democratic film culture free of hegemonies and elitism, essentially, a culture that belongs to everyone. Furthermore, as an extension of this objective, Lightcube Film Society was also formed with the purpose of screening films outside the metropolises; in smaller towns, villages, etc, with the idea of opening up an alternative viewing option in these centers. Alongwith these, the founders of Lightcube also conducted a series of interviews with older cine-society activists, representatives of FFSI, etc. to understand the condition of the film society movement in the Northern Region. This research revealed that the situation is bleak, but also informed us of a once-flourishing movement in the 70s and 80s. Essentially, it helped us understand that nothing we are doing is entirely new, in any way path-breaking or novel - we are merely adapting older models to a contemporary, digital world. For instance, travelling village road shows have been happening for decades, with the pertinent examples of Bijli Pehalwan, Heggodu and the Odessa Collective, etc. As such, in due course of time and as a result of this research, we added another objective to our existing aims: the reinforcement of the film society movement in this part of the country (it is flourishing in the Southern and Western regions). In this, too, our ambition is revival, and not invention.
What is the logic employed when programming films / festivals?
Lightcube Film Society generally organises two types of festivals (or groups of screenings): these are either Retrospectives of Directors (instances from the past: Fritz Lang, Alain Resnais, Buster Keaton, Satyajit Ray) or festivals of distinct films that belong to the same thematic or ideological fiber (instances from the past: Transmissions 2012, DIAF 2012, Distant Firelights). Within the former model, our attempt is to adhere to a strict linear chronology in screening the films of a director, i.e. beginning with the film he made first and moving towards the film he made last. This can reveal the evolution of a particular trait or the development of a style in the work of a director and assists in a more in-depth study of his establishment of his own artistic eccentricities, tics and flourishes; apart from of course, his political and social beliefs. Sticking to a chronology also helps in another crucial manner: as is often the case with great directors, their films are a product of the time they are produced in, which is to say they reflect or summarise the political or social scenario of era of their production - as such, watching these films in the chronological order of their making serves as an important history lesson (though distilled through a personal vision, which is even greater). Sometimes, however, as is the case with the Ray and the Resnais Retrospectives, we tend to abandon this linear chronology and instead try to arrange the films in the order in which they display particular symptoms of a director's work. For instance, the idea of screening Stavisky and Night and Fog together was to associate two movies that seriously think about death or mortality.
In the case of festivals that are not retrospectives, but instead, are a bunch of distinct films joined together by a theme, the idea is to programme and schedule in a manner that the films become as if extensions of each other, or sometimes, arguments to each other, or in groups of two or three, reinforce each other's thematic thread - for instance, in the Distant Firelights Festival at KNMA in April, two films that both dealt with the idea of a woman's travel across landscapes and different circles of judgment were played together. These were: Maya Deren's At Land and Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues.
Alongwith these, there are ofcourse the practical considerations of programming budget, courier services, time constraints, availability of directors, etc. but these are obvious technicalities.
How is it different from other film societies / clubs?
Well, the hope is that we aren't that much different. The fact of the cultural scene in both Delhi and Mumbai is that these societies, filmmaking groups, cultural blogs, etc. are serving such a small section of people, a very enclosed and exclusive minority that doesn't include many numbers in its ranks, so our belief is that it would eventually be rather stupid (and funny) if these film clubs begin to exist in some sort of a competition with each other (which is the present scenario, where everyone is involved in an event-war) - instead, it would be excellent if the few active groups can actually co-operate and regularly collaborate in order to ensure a greater radiation of film (and other) culture across to a larger mass of people. It will ultimately be self-destructive for these groups (and this is not without historical precedent) if they devote their energies to vying for the attention of the scarce cultural minority that populates each single film-related event in the cities.
What's your revenue model?
None of your business.