Sometimes films are beyond technicalities
Among my worst fears is losing sensitivity towards the world.
Education is a double-edged sword; it makes you aware about the world but the more reality you consume, you develop a peculiar kind of immunity against it. Each time I feel my train of thought being blanketed by a thick coat of immunity, I cringe internally because I firmly believe that feeling something deeply makes me a better human, a better writer and a more sensitive consumer of visual culture. So during the screenings over the three years of my time at Symbiosis Centre of Media & Communication, I have consciously allowed myself to feel, without the slightest tinge of guilt.
When Prof. Ajit Duara first screened Night and Fog, there was a palpable silence in the class room. Prof. Duara later screened Iranian films by Asghar Farhadi, Abbas Kiarostami and Majid Majidi, of which Farhadi’s A Separation caused a stir in our class’s inherent and stubborn understanding of world cinema.
On another day, Prof. Sagar Kamath showed us a documentary on the Rwandan genocide. I distinctly remember the shudders, the gasps, the choked tears and the sheer force of this new piece of knowledge. A fraction of our innocence died an unexpected death that day.
A Road to Perdition stirred meaningful conversation between my batch mate and his father, both of whom had not been on even courteous speaking terms for years. When Krzysztof Kieslowski’s A Short Film about Killing was screened for us, our faculty broke down in front of us while we fervently tried to find words that had conveniently escaped our dry tongues.
In the comfort of room 603, 40 odd students of AV, with a false sense of refinement, fell into a shattering trance. By the time, Schindler’s List had been screened, atrocities had become an everyday sight – whether in the newspaper or films. I fail to remember anything substantial of the last fifteen minutes of Schindler’s List, for my eyes were blurred by the brimming tears. At the end of the film, I tried, but in vain, to collect myself, my silent tears bordering on audible weeps, punctuated by choked breaths. In that dark classroom, when the credits rolled, I heard my fellow batch mates sob too – never before and never since we have watched the entire credits sequence of a film. We sat there hoping somebody would do something to make us feel any less vulnerable.
That day, I realized a lot of things. Films will never stop sensitizing people. Sometimes, films are beyond technicalities. People can be brought together in unpredictable ways, and sometimes, the least expected moments become memories.
That one day cemented my faith in the world, my trust in my batch mates and most of all, my will to be an ambassador for films.
Article by – Amal Shiyas (Batch of 2017)
Photograph by – Nairika Lodhi (Batch of 2019)