Public Service Broadcasting Trust and Doordarshan organized its 18th Open Frame Documentary Film Festival at India International Centre New Delhi, with an exciting and important line up of new voices, fi lms, conversations and workshops. In keeping with the objective of empowering filmmakers and the cause of the independent documentary, Open Frame continued to engage with the documentary form and its myriad manifestations:

The stories documentaries tell and how, the artistic and political processes and impulses that shape them and how they impact the spaces in which they are authored and articulated. As PSBT films win their 300th award and their 1700th film festival selection, it takes pride in having come this far, in the pursuit of independent documentary practice, the celebration of diverse stories and their courageous telling, democratization of the media and the freedom of expression. PSBT has emerged as the single largest non-governmental producer of documentaries in the country, supporting and mentoring 700 films by 500 filmmakers, each representing a unique point of view. Innumerable filmmakers have felt encouraged to make their first films with PSBT, at par with those having many years of experience.

PSBT has played a constructive role in making the documentary accessible and tangible, initiating conversations and generating a definite interest in the genre, across spaces and people. By virtue of working with many and different filmmakers, the canvas of PSBT films is kaleidoscopic and ever widening.. PSBT has supported projects that would not be considered commercially viable and truly stood by the independent voice of the filmmaker. Despite being made on shoe-string budgets, PSBT films have managed to compete with the best from around the world and reached newer audiences, both domestically and internationally. PSBT partnership with PrasarBharati, the national public broadcaster, has been seminal in not just the production of documentaries, but also their dissemination throughout the country, bringing people hitherto unknown stories and narratives.

With a focus on training and enhancing film making skills, PSBT preseneted Professional Intensive Workshops for starting-out and mid-career filmmakers on working with the short documentary, led by Paromita Vohra, and how to effectively and poignantly develop a film concept and create a narrative through one’s film with DeepaDhanraj. There were Documentary Masterclasses with four senior filmmakers, each representing a distinct understanding and creative practice – You Talking to Me? The Documentary as A Form of Conversation by Paromita Vohra; The Great and Small Expectations by AvijitMukul Kishore; Subjective Real by RV Ramani and The Discourse of ‘Things’ by Vipin Vijay.

With the proliferation of digital media and access to it, the classical documentary is in a state of optimistic flux and transformation. It is imperative that new ideas, formats, values and experiments infuse the art and craft of films, to accommodate these opportunities. Like in the past, in partnership with Goethe Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan, Delhi, and International Public Television, PSBT presented a package of the best films and programmes from the International Public Service Broadcasters’ Conference, Brooklyn, 2018. Mini-INPUT, led by Iris Yudai.

There were presentations and conversations on Telling Real Stories, Using Tools from Fictional Storytelling; Opening up Conversations on Controversial Subjects; Storytelling in the Digital Age of Social Media; Reimagining and Interpreting History; Inclusive Stories and Visual Storytelling. PSBT organized a special conversation with the Masters of Cinema – AdoorGopalakrishnan and ShyamBenegal, both Dada SahebPhalke Award Winners and Trustees, PSBT, with Rajiv Mehrotra. As a special international showcase PSBT screened the Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize and multiple award winning and Oscar nominated Last Men in Aleppo by Feras Fayyad, a searing portrait of volunteers from the White Helmets, through whose eyes, we experienced daily life, death and struggle in the streets of wartorn Syria.

PSBT-Doordarshan films reflect on a wide gamut of concerns: the relevance and value of traditional wisdom and the lived experiences of Adivasi women and men, which emphasize cultures of coexistence and harmony, raising vital questions about the nature of our destructive and violent development discourse; the power of people coming together in movement; affirmative journeys in the face of adversity; conversations on death and dying and the human impulse to resist the inevitability of mortality; the undying passion and hard work of those who keep hope alive; the magic of music, sound, creation and innovation; sports as a means of finding freedom; how traditions evolve over time to create new synthesis and cultures; chronicles of history, in which lie embedded tangible memories of people and eras gone by; the relationship between history, language and people; the mingling and merging of personal and larger histories. There were many discussions and conversations with filmmakers and other speakers. A Voice of My Own: Documentary Conversations got some young filmmakers to reflect on art and politics of documentary practice.

PSBT “Open Frame 2018 Documentary Film Festival, at India International Centre new Delhi has been a success. I congratulate PSBT and Doordarshan on the success of the documentary film festival of contemporary films. I wish a greater success of 2019 PSBT Documentary Film Festival.

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