Throughout the early 20th century, film reels were an invaluable medium that had efficient technology to maintain its high-demand status. However, as film became ubiquitously digital, film reels grew out of any use in contemporary media consumption. As a result, recycling and deconstructing reels for raw materials have become more common, leaving some film content lost forever.
In order to preserve and document abandoned cinematic content as such, the Shabistan Film Archive’s project with MEAP focuses on digitizing a collection of celluloid films from India. The collection, dating from the 1950’s to the 1990’s, contains a diverse set of genres, including narrative cinema from regional film industries, documentary reels and home movies, and smaller media pieces such as film trailers, commercials, and advertisements.
The goal of this project is to create an inventory of titles, categories, languages, etc. to act as a trial run for a larger digitization project by selecting the most significant materials for digitization. Ultimately, this collection will bring to light the diverse regional histories of film in post-independence India and to systematically explore digitization of film reels.
This collection represents a variety of languages and cultures practiced in 20th-century India. By creating an archive to organize these materials in one space, users will be able to better understand how audio-visual materials and genres developed and circulated throughout the region.