ARUNA VASUDEV FETED FOR CONTRIBUTION TO GROWTH OF ASIAN CINEMA
A Report by BB Nagpal
Aruna Vasudev with Shabana Azmi
NEW DELHI, September 2008: Eminent film critic Aruna Vasudev, who recently stepped down as director of the Osian’s-Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema (OCFF) which she founded and which is recognized as the largest festival of its kind, was felicitated at a function held here for services to film criticism and the growth of Asian cinema.
In the event organized by the Delhi Malayalee Film Society and the Habitat Film Club, the critic was paid laudable tributes by film society movement veteran N P Radhakrishnan and educator president Professor Omcherry N N Pillai.
Several award winners in the 54th National Film Awards were also felicitated on the occasion. They included Films Division Chief Producer Kuldip Sinha who announced that the Division had a collection of over 8,000 films in its digital archives which could be used for research by anyone.
Though Vasudev is no longer director of the Festival, she continues as an Advisor and a member of the Board of Directors of the Osian's Connoisseurs of Art. She continues as the Honorary President of the OCFF.
She is currently the Series Editor with Wisdom Tree for its series of books on Indian cinema, of which six have already been published. She decides the subjects and then selects and commissions writers, after which she edits the manuscripts.
Vasudev founded the world’s first quarterly on Asian cinema, ‘Cinemaya’, in 1988 and was later one of the founders of the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) of which she is the President.
She has now become the first Indian film critic to have been invited to the Cannes International Film Festival for more than fourteen years, and was a member of the Camera d’Or Jury at the Festival way back in 1993. In fact, she has served on more than fifty juries around the world.
She had begun her career in France by studying cinema and then completed her PhD on ‘Censorship in Indian Cinema’. She came back to India in 1977 and began writing about Indian cinema. Visits to the East West Centre in Hawaii for a conference and to Hong Kong in the mid-eighties convinced her that Asian cinema was on the move. This led to the founding of ‘Cinemaya’.
When the quarterly was just 18 months old, she was contacted by UNESCO (Paris) to organize a conference on Asian cinema. This was in 1989, and the meet was attended by around 25 people from all over the world, all of whom agreed there was need to promote Asian cinema in a world where Hollywood was dominating despite the freshness and novelty of Asian films. This led to the formation of Asian Film Centres. This led to the formation of NETPAC along with others who felt like her.
At the time when ‘Cinemaya’ was ten years old, the idea of a film festival of Asian cinema first came up. It commenced as a week-long festival of Asian Cinema in 1999 with just 27 films, growing this year to more than 200 films. The Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art linked up with Cinefan in 2004 with the sixth festival.
Vasudev was chosen by the French Government to receive the Chevalier (Knight) of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2002. Created in 1957, the award is for people who have distinguished themselves by their creativity in the artistic or literary domain, or by their contribution to the spread of arts and literature in France and in the world.
‘Cinemaya’ also received a rare honour in 2002 when the Pompidou Centre in Paris recognized it in a special tribute in a programme entitled 'Rendezvous with Cinemaya'. She also received the Star of Italian Solidarity Prize, and an award at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea. She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Manila International Film Festival and the Kalpana Chawla Award as a woman achiever.
‘Liberty and Licence in Indian Cinema’ was a revised and enlarged version of her Ph.D. in France. At that time, she also delved in documentary films. Then came book authored or edited by her including “The New Indian Cinema’ which she wrote, ‘Frames of Mind: Reflections on Indian Cinema’ which she edited for the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, ‘Indian Cinema Superbazaar’ (edited with Philippe Lenglet), and ‘Being & Becoming: The Cinemas of Asia’ edited with Latika Padgaonkar and Rashmi Doraiswamy.
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