Manipur takes a step ahead in film heritage preservation

Imphal: Manipuri cinema has achieved a major milestone on Saturday as Manipur State Film Development Society (MSFDS) and Film Heritage Foundation (FHF) inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work together in preserving Manipur’s film heritage on the second day of the ongoing inaugural programme of the yearlong celebration of golden jubilee celebration of Manipuri cinema.

The MoU was signed by MSFDS secretary Sunzu Bachaspatimayum and founder director of Film Heritage Foundation Shivendra Singh Dungarpur along with two witnesses each.

“Manipur is the only state in the Northeast that has taken such a major initiative for film preservation,” Shivendra said.

He said it must be the first time in India as well that an archive and museum with training facilities for preservation and archiving has been opened.

As agreed by the two parties, he said the foundation will extend technical support and share expertise to help MSFDS run a fully functional film archive and museum, which can house the state’s cinematic heritage.

“We have already donated two rewinding tables to the society where the celluloid films can be rewinded for regular cleaning and maintenance,” Shivendra said.

Film Heritage Foundation is a not for profit organisation stablished in 2014 and based in Mumbai working for the preservation and restoration of films heritage across India.

The memorandum will be for two years and extendable. Nevertheless, the mandate of the foundation is to help organisations like MSFDS preserve the film heritage, he said adding that the idea is not just to recover the things of the past but to preserve for the future as accessibility is equally important, Shivendra said.

While announcing that a major workshop on film preservation and archiving will be organised in November with international experts, he stated, “Let Manipur take the lead in terms of film preservation and hopefully, it will become the catalyst for the whole Northeast to work on film preservation.”

Shivendra said India is losing its films in such a fast pace. Going by statistics, 70-80 percent of films were lost by 1960 and 99% of silent films have been lost.

“We lost so many film heritage because nobody bothered about them. One main reason is that people think of films as just entertainment and not as an art form,” he lamented.

Luckily for Manipur, the participants in the ongoing workshop are very enthusiastic and the target to clean and repair the old reels is set and to create the ideal vault before monsoon as the increase in moisture may worsen the condition of the films, he added.

MSFDS secretary Sunzu Bachaspatimayum expressed confidence that the archive and museum will be fully operational in the near future and will go a long way in preserving the state’s cinematic heritage for posterity.

Meanwhile, the need to streamline the varied phases of Manipur’s film history was deliberated during the Cine Dialogue on ‘Journey of Manipuri Cinema’.

Cheng Khujok Ama by Meneka Thiyam, Orphanage to Olympics by Bobby Wahengbam were screened.

In the North East Focus section, On Aroll by Sanjib Das (Tripura), Ishanou by Aribam Syam Sharma and Bulbul Can Sing by Rima Das (Assam) were screened followed by an interaction session with filmmaker Sonia Nepram.

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