Saturday, October 8, 2016

Cinema Travelers (2016) New York Film Festival 2016

CINEMA TRAVELERS is a heart breaking look at a dying way of life that is trying to keep a dying format alive. If you are a film fan worth your salt you will be weeping bitter sweet tears as you watch the what is the end of the road for the road show cinemas that have crisscrossed India for almost a century. It’s the sort of film that will make you want to fly off to India in order to experience vanishing way of life. If there was any justice it would have opened this year's New York Film Festival instead of getting shunted to a side bar since it is, if nothing else, a celebration of the magic of the movies.

The film follows three stories- a group of men who lug their equipment and tent across the country and set up in carnivals and fairs, another group who drive their rotting and decaying truck to remote villages to put on a show and finally man who repairs the projectors. Not only does he fix them he has taken his 40 plus years of experience and created the perfect movie projector. The problem is film is going the way of the wind, with audiences dwindling thanks to satellite TV, the internet and the in ability to get newer films because there are no or few prints.

My heart broke and I found I had to look away- I didn't want this way of life to disappear.

At the same time he film is as glorious a celebration of cinema as has ever put on screen. In the opening moments the film we watch as the tent show is set up and readied. In the hectic fair grounds somewhere in India the men are waiting for the arrival of a print as people wander into the tent and wait. Finally it arrives and the film is threaded- the switch is thrown and the world falls away. In one of my new favorite sequences in any film ever we watch as the audience watches the film and film weaves their magic. Think of the end of CINEMA PARADISO but real. Like the end of that film, the beginning of this one made me tear up- seriously  five minutes the projector starts, the sound falls away, the music starts, we see the faces of the audience and I had tears running down my cheeks.

This is a glorious film, beautifully crafted, stunning to look at. It is a film that does every damn thing right.

Yes it is very melancholy but at the same time it is alive and full of love. This is film that is as beautiful a representation of life as you are going to see. Directors Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya have not only shot a beautiful film but they have assembled it together in a manner that should, if there was any justice get them an Oscar for editing at the very least. Rarely has any film so magically matched the rhythms of the world on screen. This film is a masterpiece of the sort that very well may end up being studied in years as one of the standards in documentary in editing.

I absolutely love this film. I can’t wait to see it again. Actually I want to pair it with ROAD,MOVIE from 2010 which was about a young man taking a mobile cinema across India in order to sell it. The pairing of the two films would make a wonderful celebration of the love of movies.

I can’t recommend this film enough. The film plays at the New York Film Festival and is one of the great hidden treasures of the festival (again it should have been the opening night film). An absolute must see.

One of the truly great films of 2016. A must see at the New York Film Festival

The film Plays October 12,13,15, and 16 at the New York Film Festival. For tickets and more information go here.

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