About the Project

A Collection of Celluloid Ephemera from India
Planning Grant

This project identified, organized and preserved a collection of celluloid film reels dating from the 20th century. The collection includes narrative cinema from regional film industries, documentary reels and home movies, along with less well represented and traditionally undervalued matter such as film trailers, commercials and advertisements. The project succeeded in identifying diverse regional histories of film in post-independence India, finding children's films, documentaries, student work, alongside commercial work.

Highlights from the Collection:

  • Government newsreels and other documentaries, under the purview of Films Division of India. These include both prints and various kinds of preprints (negatives, internegatives, interpositives, positive masters) and prints. Films Division films were often dubbed in many languages and occasionally subtitled.
  • Children’s films, from the Children’s Film Society of India, a government agency. These materials are prints in various languages. View the inventory of films from the Children's Film Society of India.
  • Negatives of student journalism films. We know very little about them beyond the markings on the can at present and hope to work further on examining these films in detail in the coming years.
  • Negatives of commercial films. These are films that had been stored by the labs that processed them, and were discarded when the labs shut if they couldn’t find the owner or the owner chose not to reclaim the film. They span a wide variety of dates, languages, and genres, from major commercial Hindi films to obscure films in Oriya and Bhojpuri. A few are Nepali, Sri Lankan, or Pakistani films processed by Indian labs. A few films are unreleased films, many untitled, so these are likely the only extant copies of this material.

Project Lead

Dr. Vaibhav Singh

Host Institution

Shabistan Film Archive

More Information

Related Resources

Read these scholarly reflections to learn more about the CFSI Collection and the importance of Shabistan's work to preserve and catalogue the films.

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