Centre’s push to merge film archive and other film bodies will ill serve their original mandates

News: The Centre has set a January deadline to merge four public-funded institutions, the Films Division (FD), National Film Archive of India (NFAI), Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF), and Children’s Films Society of India (CFSI), with the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).

This is an ill-conceived move.

What is the rationale behind this move?

The primary reason behind the push for restructuring these institutions seems to be that they are loss-making entities.

The NFDC is expected to turn around its finances once the merger takes place. This is a flawed assumption premised on comparing these cultural bodies with industrial units in the red.

Why these institutions should not be merged?

Contributions to nation-building process: The NFAI, FD, DFF, CFSI are institutions with a history. They have been a part of independent India’s nation-building process and have made stellar contributions to producing, disseminating and preserving the labour and creativity of diverse film cultures in the country.

For instance: NFAI was set up in 1964 to archive Indian cinema history. Despite its delayed birth, the NFAI has done a commendable job of preserving Indian cinema history. Like any national archive, it is involved in the task of protecting national heritage. Countries such as the US and France allot public funds for their film archives precisely for this reason.

Even regional archives are necessary so that justice can be done to diverse, vibrant cinema cultures in numerous languages in India.

Production of art-house cinema: All these years, India’s public-funded cinema bodies have focussed mostly on making of art house cinema and documentaries that would not find support from the market. This resulted in the production of works that boldly questioned the very systems and processes that enabled their existence. This fine balance b/w a film industry that defines itself in market terms & a cinema focussed on the politics and aesthetics of art production, should not be disturbed.

Must Read: Draft Cinematograph Bill – Explained, pointwise

Source: This post is based on the article “Centre’s push to merge film archive and other film bodies will ill serve their original mandates” published in The Indian Express on 29th Dec 2021.

Print Friendly and PDF