FILM SOCIETY MOVEMENT:
A SUCCESS OR FAILURE
© Premendra Mazumder 2009
The history of the Film Society Movement began in the year 1920 when Luis de Louke established the first film club of the world “Cine Club” in Paris. This was just twenty five years after the first exhibition of moving images by August Lumiere and Luis Lumiere on December 28, 1895 at a café in Paris. In the year 1924, “Cine Club De France” was established. Some twenty more film societies were formed in the next three years in France. The “Cine Club” known to the French was the “Film Society” to the English. The first “Film Society” was established in London in October 25, 1925. Eminent personalities like Anthony Asquith, Sidney Burnstein, Ivor Montegue, H.G.Wells, George Bernard Shaw were among the founder members of the society. Many other film societies were formed in Germany, Australia, Canada, USA and in other countries almost during the same period. In the year 1930, the first Central Council of Film Societies, the “Canadian Federation of Film Societies” was formed in Canada. In 1935, the “British Federation of Film Societies” was formed consisting of 26 film societies. In 1936, the “Central Films Council” was formed in Scotland.
This spread of the formation of the film societies came to a halt due to the 2nd World War in 1939. Many film societies were closed. A few that survived became wretched. Some existed with their entities in stake. But after the war was over the world experienced an unprecedented enthusiasm in the Film Society Movement. Many new film societies were established. The number of members of the old film societies increased heavily. “Federation of Film Societies of France” was formed in 1945. In 1948 “Australian Federation of Film Societies” was constituted. “Federation of Film Societies of Tunisia” was established in 1950. “Federation of Film Societies of England, Wales, North Ireland” was unionized in 1952. “Federation of Film Societies of South and Central Africa” was instituted in 1954. And in 1959 “Federation of Film Societies of India” was founded. Earlier, “International Federation of Film Societies” was coordinated on September 16, 1947. Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, East & West Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Sudan, Tunisia, Uruguay, USA, USSR, Yugoslavia and many more countries became the members of this international organization in the next twenty years. By the middle of the 1960s more than five hundred film societies were formed in France. The number surpassed the 12,000 mark in the next ten years.
In India, the first film society was formed in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1937. The “Amateur Cine Society of India” was founded by the enterprise of film critic Rudi Laden, documentary maker Dr. P.V. Pathy, Dereck Jephrys and others. One of its prime movers was Stanley Jepson, the then Editor of the ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’ – one of the most prestigious publications of India brought out by the House of the ‘Times of India’ Publication. Later in 1942, The “Bombay Film Society” was formed by the documentary maker Clement Baptista, K.L. Khadpur and commentator Samuel Barkley. Although these two societies worked for long, the leadership required to elevate the subject to a movement could not be provided by these film societies. “Bombay Film Society” was registered officially by the Government in 1943. The membership fee was Rs.12/- half yearly. In those days this amount was highly expensive. These two early film societies, however, did not have much influence on the larger content of the Film Society Movement in India.
PREMENDRA NATH MAZUMDER is a playwright and has written widely on Indian and Bengali cinema and literature both in India, Bangladesh, Portugal and Egypt. Premendra has served on Juries of numerous film festivals in India, Bangladesh, Egypt and Mongolia. He is a consultant and correspondent at numerous film festivals. Some of the publications he has authored/edited:
• Shatobarsher Chaalchitre Bharatiya Chalachchitra (Hundred Years of Indian Cinema, Collection of Essays, Authored)
• Shamay Ashamayer Naatak (Collection of Plays, Authored)
• Prekshapat (Collection of Essays on Socio Economic Issues, Authored)
• Latin Americar Chhotogalpo (Collection of Short Stories of Latin America, Edited)
• Latin Americar Kobita (Collection of Poems of Latin America, Edited)
• Dusho Bachhorer Bangla Natak (Two Hundred Years of Bengali Theatre, Edited)
• Loukik Uddyan: Folk Song of Bengal: Collectors’ Volume (Edited)
• Loukik Udyan: Two Hundred Years of Bengali Theatre: Collectors’ Volume (Edited)
• Loukik Udyan: Womens’ Right: Collectors’ Volume (Edited)
• Co-Editor, Chitralipi (continuing since 1986)
• Editor, Loukik Udyan (1986 – 2001)
• Co-Editor, Arani (1982 – 1986)
• Advisor, Board of Editors, Deep Focus (continuing since 2007)
• Editor, Chitrabhavna (2000 – 2008)
• Authored three full-length plays and one short play (all published) for the Group Theatres of Kolkata, which are still being played.
• Translated several plays (mostly published) from Hindi to Bengali and Bengali to Hindi.
• Main Speaker of the Banga Sanskriti Sammelan, Nagpur (2001).