We launched this event for 'Madras Day 2006'.
Inviting film makers to produce docu-films on the city; its people, its institutions, its communities, its issues . . .
The idea is to generate more visual content on Madras that is Chennai.
This year, the contest attracted 11 entries. And we short listed 5 to be screened at an event we hosted at Srinivasa Shastri Hal in Luz on Sept.2.
We felt good when about 100 people turned up for the screening.
There was a film on the dhobis of Saidapet; another on the industrial estate of Ambattur, said to be the largest of the kind in Asia; a film on trans-genders and one on Madras Basha (language, or lingo, as some would put it!). And there was a film on the Buckingham Canal which runs from a point in Andhra Pradesh and ends at the Marakkanam Lake in the the Cheyyur area, south of Mammallapuram.
These were nice efforts but we found that they were sorely lacking in professional inputs.
Venkatesh Chakravarthy, who teaches cinema, who judged the films, said so.
We also screened a short film I had made with Mohan Das Vadakara during the last Corporation of Chennai elections. The film focuses on one woman contestant in the Mylapore area who was a local councillor. It records her campaign through an urban sum as well as a quiet colony of Pelathope, once famous for its lawyer residents.
We also screened Venkatesh's film - 'Chennai -The Split City' which looks at different sides of this city; the neglected north, the expanding IT corridor, the makeover of the East Coast Road, the shifting of the Kotwal Chawadi Market; the religious rituals and celebrations of yore which continue to be held in the heart of a metro, the vandalisation of the seashore by big time developers . . .
We welcome ideas from film makers who wish to make films on the city.
We would like to help them with books / resource materials / guides and specialists to enrich the script that ensures we have better-made docu-films.
Perhaps, some of us will be making Chennai-focussed films through this year and next so that we have a small body of new films to be shown next year.