Films in Samaj Pragati Sahayog are an extension of the work that the organisation has been engaged in for the last 20 years. Working in a remote impoverished area with a large population of unlettered men, women and children, films have enhanced our communication of new ideas and possibilities to the people. The process of filming in turn has been an experience of learning and discovery, as well as arriving at the best possible form within innumerable constrains.

We feel translating ideas, practices and information into films should be a process in partnership with the people themselves. We constantly try to identify the most appropriate person, place or situation within the community to articulate the film content in the most effective way. In a style between a documentary and an instructional film, people voice the issues true to their lives but with the purpose of sharing them for the benefit of a larger populace. Based in real life situations and articulated by people in real life contexts, these films create a sense of serendipity for the audience and hence are appealing and acceptable. The films in turn become a medium to bring forth the voices of the most neglected and marginalised people, expressing their plight and aspirations. These are also the voices that help us to constantly reposition our work to the context.

Our People’s Mobile Cinema takes these films to remote villages along with other films from across the world. An open-air cinema experience connects people with the rest of the world, sharing learning, experiences, ideas and adding the joy of cinema to their lives.

Once the monsoon recedes and the grounds are dry enough for the audience to sit, the Mobile Cinema is taken from village to village in about 30 to 40 venues every season. A van has been converted into a cinema – with an in-built rechargeable power supply, an LCD projector, a 10ft by 9ft portable screen and 200 watts speakers with amplifiers. As the sun recedes in the western horizon, the silver screen is rolled down for an audience ranging from 150 to 700, spread out on the ground. The films range from old black-and-white Hindi feature film classics to new productions, educational as well as documentary films. 15 to 20 films are screened every season – October to May – each film doing a round in every venue. An average of 140 screenings take place every season.

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