Bring Your Own Film Festival: Democratising The Screening Space
The temple town of Puri played host to the 12th edition of Bring Your Own Film Festival last month – a cinematic pilgrimage of sorts, that saw filmmakers from different corners of the North and South coming together for the festivities. “I heard about the festival from IndiEarth since I’ve been going for the weekly film screenings,” says Chennai based filmmaker Prakash Dhanapal, who screened his film ‘? (Question Mark) ‘ this year at BYOFF. “It was a wonderful experience going to Puri – it was a very open atmosphere right next to the seashore, with a lot of other people speaking different languages from different states. There were just so many films from different genres – many documentaries, shorts, features being screened, with new filmmakers emerging into the field with unique and fresh perspectives to cinema. It was a great collaborative space.”
The screening of his film ‘? (Question Mark)’ evoked positive responses from the audiences in Puri and opened up channels for dialogue. “‘? (Question Mark)’ is a silent six-minute film, and the story unravels as the viewer watches it. It’s a film that revolves around the audience’s perspective – and it changes according to the perspective of the viewer. After the screening at BYOFF there were a lot of interesting questions from the audience, and discussions about the cinematography and the lighting.” In addition to being a creative space, the festival also acted as a space for learning with several master classes and workshops coexisting alongside the screenings. “I met a lot of interesting people and had several interesting conversations,” continues Prakash. “One of the most relevant discussions was about ways to sell your film as an independent filmmaker, and how to market your work. I picked up some interesting pointers at BYOFF.”
The relevance of a space like BYOFF – where the ability to share one’s work as an independent artist becomes accessible to anyone and everyone with the spirit and desire to create – is a step in the right direction towards dissolving the hierarchies that can exist in other screening spaces across the country. A truly democratic approach, the spirit of the festival places the emphasis on equality as opposed to quality control – which may mean varying degrees of quality of the works being showcased, but also means the emphasis is placed instead on the spirit of sharing, and on creating channels for dialogue between different members of the artistic community. “Nowadays films are accessible to everyone – earlier, only those with the thorough background and understanding of cinema could make films, but in the digital era any one with a creative spirit can make films on a very low budget,” says Prakash. “So after one has made a film – how can one showcase their creativity? This type of festival for an independent filmmaker is a great initiative, especially for someone like me where conveying my ideas to an audience is a very important thing.”
Prakash’s next piece of work – titled ‘(!) Exclamation Mark’ is currently in the works, and he looks forward to screening it at a future edition of BYOFF.
For more on BYOFF, visit www.byoffpuri.com/