Come January and a group of forty to fifty film buffs - journalists, poets, writers, media professionals, students, college lecturers, IT professionals, etc - travel from all over Karnataka and gather for two days at a remote village by the Western Ghats. Situated in the picturesque Shimoga district, Kupalli, as the village is called, is the home town of the famous Kannada poet, the late KV Putappa (Kuvempu). His house has now been converted into a trust called The Kuvempu Prathistana. The Kuvempu Prathistana is not just the venue of this Film Festival, but it also facilitates the logistics of staying and food for these film buffs.

The group calls themselves as ‘Saangatya’. Collectively they pool in their recourses – money and goodwill – and organize a yearly film festival – digital projection and DVD screenings. It is not just another Film Festival where delegates hop in from one theater to another trying to catch up with as many films as they physically can. The films here are limited – a couple of features and a few documentaries. The crux of the film festival is the mandatory group discussion that happens after every film. There is no one lecturing them as it happens in a film appreciation course. No filmmaker to introduce the film, receive red roses and deliver a ‘director’s statement’. It is just a group of people watching films, discussing them in order to know and understand what the medium is all about.

It sounds exciting - because the filmmakers are not directly involved. It feels good when filmmakers organize themselves and show films of fellow filmmakers. But this one is coming from a cross section of the society. All of them are film buffs or cinephiles who are trying to develop an alternative system of watching films. ‘Sangaatya’ is just a year old and already they have had two such film festivals. The third is on this month. Since many months they are running a blog in Kannada language where participants can write about cinema. And now, they are also planning to bring a quarterly magazine on serious cinema. On top of it a documentary workshop within the next few months.
Not particularly keen on on watching the films that are thrust upon you at the mulitplexes? Well, try going the 'Saangatya' way...

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