AUROFILM - a S.A.I.I.E.R. sub-unit of Auroville
(Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research)
Mother had given its due place to the art of Cinema. Since the nineteen sixties she had established in the Ashram a regular film screening service. She has given some guidance about what to show, to whom, and how to ‘read’ a film (Mother “On Education”). She has spoken about the impact of films and she also talked about the project of having a film studio in Auroville (Mother’s Agenda, 1969).
In this spirit, Aurofilm has been created in the early eighties under the umbrella of SAIIER, as the film department of the community. Aurofilm is an Auroville cultural and educational service, promoting Cinema in its best, and research on this art, mainly through two activities:
1 - Film projection:
Since the beginning, regular 16 and 35 mm art film screenings have been organised weekly by Gérard Carabin, an early Aurovilian. The aim was –and still is to present a blend of films from India and the world, recent or ‘old’, children’s films, documentaries, classics, experimental, or more popular but quality films for the residents of Auroville and our visitors. The screenings are held at the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium (formerly an 850 seater and since 2008, quite comfortable with 570 seats and air conditioned after a whole revamping on the occasion of Auroville’s 40th Anniversary). We present around 60 films each year and the audience for the weekly film shows is truly composed of people of mixed nationalities and cultures. Additionally, we organise every year one or several film festivals, retrospectives and seminars related to cinema. They include a 3 day Panorama of Contemporary Indian Cinema, presentations by film directors, film personalities or technicians.
The monthly budget allocated by the City Budget of Auroville allows the unit to provide a free cultural service. Films shown consist usually of 35 mm prints, loaned or hired on a concession rate from different sources like the National Film Archive of India, National Film Development Corporation, Directorate of Film Festivals of India, Films Division and Children’s Film Society, India, and from various producers, distributors and film makers from all over India. The Embassy of France in New Delhi regularly lends us film prints and DVD. We also benefit from this embassy (and sometimes from other European countries’ agencies) of retrospectives or various film packages whenever they organise touring festivals in India.
2 - Establishing an Auroville Film Institute:
Aurofilm has started to establish a film institute in Auroville to provide the possibility to interested students, youth and adults, to study the art of cinema as well as the technical jobs required for the production and the making of films. In that framework, since many years we produce short fictions and documentary films. The apprenticeship is given to Aurovilians, outside students and researchers from the Auroville’s bio-region, India and abroad. The films are diverse but are linked to the spirit and ideals of Auroville and its development. For the functioning of the institute’s activities, we do separate fund-raising as there is no Auroville budget for it as of now. It is also not a commercial activity.
The places where we work:
The Sri Aurobindo Auditorium is the main venue for all film projections and related public events, since we have there a fully equipped projection room and can welcome the public. The film institute where all the administrative work, film workshops and classes happen is located in the Cultural Zone of Auroville, in a settlement dedicated to research in arts and called Kalabhoomi, Land of Arts.
Gérard Carabin and Surya C.Rimaux
Inviting a film director to present his film - Shekar Dattatri, The Truth About Tigers - 2010
Film shooting at Aranya, Auroville, 2010
Film director Shaji N. Karun invited for our annual Film Festival in Auroville - Conference atAurofilm, Kalabhoomi
Film shooting at Ganesh Bakery