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Documentary awarded at Cannes

May 06, 2016

The documentary "The Cinema Travellers" by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya, former short-term fellows at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe" won Special Jury Mention for L'Œil d'or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The film they worked on for eight years was part of the Official Selection in the category Cannes Classics.

Their film depicts how showmen riding cinema lorries have brought the wonder of the movies to faraway villages in India once every year. Seven decades on, as their cinema projectors crumble and film reels become scarce, their patrons are lured by slick digital technology. A benevolent showman, a shrewd exhibitor and a maverick projector mechanic bear a beautiful burden - to keep the last traveling cinemas of the world running.

The 96-minute documentary, in parts self-funded, featured in this year’s Cannes Classics section along with other non-fiction films. It is a cultural document about the surreal, kaleidoscopic world of movie-going in India’s villages and manages to capture travelling cinema at a time when it is poised for change.

Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya are former short-term fellows of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context". During their short-term fellowship in 2009 they were affiliated with the Chair of Visual and Media Anthropology were they held a workshop and worked on the project "Film technology as cultural import: The restructuring of the domain of religious fairs in India by the arrival of travelling cinemas".

Amit Madheshiya is a photographer and filmmaker. In 2011, he received the World Press Photo Award for his series of twelve pictures of a "Night Screening at Travelling Cinema" in India, which were exhibited at the Cluster "Asia and Europe" in 2011 and, along with a preview of the documentary, at the South Asia Institute in 2013.

Shirley Abraham has directed documentaries for the Guardian, Al Jazeera English and Doordarshan India. Her work is supported by the Sundance Institute, Bertha Foundation, Filmmaker Fund, PMA WorldView and Asian Cinema Fund.

Find out more about "The Cinema Travellers" here.


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