It’s not just the Academy anymore but an International Film Study Research Centre too, containing thousands of films and a first-of-its-kind library for film books.

With film archives and Sathyan memorial Kerala Chalachitra Academy gets rehaul in new campus
news Cinema Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 17:48

It is away from the city, the new location of the Kerala Chalachitra Academy, but it’s on a long quiet path full of trees and a calming shade, inside the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) campus in Thiruvananthapuram. It is Baker-red and the men at the building are buzzing with plans for the evening when the Chief Minister will come to inaugurate it.

It’s not just the academy anymore but an International Film Study Research Centre too, says Mahesh Panju, Academy Secretary. “It is a memorial for late legendary actor Sathyan,” he says.

Sathyan’s photo is one of the first pictures you see inside the building, walls of which are full of old and familiar faces of actors and filmmakers who passed away, of movie posters from many years ago, beautifully black-and-white most of them. A big picture of JC Daniel, Father of Malayalam cinema, is the first among them.

The office rooms are on a floor above, covered with pictures of award-winning posters – from Chemmeen to Ottamuri Velicham.

“There are thousands of films being archived, being fed into a server, collected from different sources,” says Shaji H, Deputy Director (festivals) of the Academy. These are mostly for reference, he adds, for some might be television grabs, some recordings. It is not exactly digital restoration, the way it’s done in the Pune National Archives.

There are a few prints among them, kept in a room downstairs, yet to be labelled and marked. There is also a mini theatre, named after Ramu Kariat, the man who directed the iconic film Chemmeen in 1965. The public can rent a movie and watch it on these screens.

Another first is a film library on a floor upstairs. “It is the first such in the state,” says Gopalakrishnan, library-in-charge. Volumes of MT Vasudevan Nair’s screenplays, Guide to the Arts of the 20th century are all here among the 8000 such in the collection. Most of these come from the Academy collection.

Some films have been collected with a lot of difficulty, he says, films like Marthanda Varma. An ad was given in the newspapers and a few people had responded. Their video cassette VHS formats had to be converted. There will be more such endeavours made in coming days, reminding one of the late PK Nair’s stories - he built an archive for Indian cinema travelling far and wide across the country.

The building cost has come to Rs 4.5 crore, Mahesh Panju says. The yearly film festival – IFFK – conducted by the Academy will not be shifted to the campus but the familiar logo of the dancing woman has been erected in front of the building, all black and beautiful. 

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