Pioneering film preservation, restoration, cinematic heritage of Manipur shines in Kolkata

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Imphal/Kolkata, March 24 (IANS) ARCUREA, a prestigious 7-day global event organised by the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) in Kolkata stands as a significant moment for Manipur in the field of film preservation and the safeguarding of cinematic heritage, positioning the state as a leader among Indian states in this field.

Supported by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and two other national cinematic organisations, this global event, held in Kolkata from March 16 to 22, focused on crucial aspects of film archiving, restoration and curation.

ARCUREA, a portmanteau word created by blending the words ‘archiving’, ‘curation’, and ‘restoration', is a multi-event initiative.

Among the distinguished institutions invited to contribute their insights and experiences was the S.N Chand Cine Archive and Museum (SNCCAM), established by the Manipur State Film Development Society (MSFDS) under the Directorate of Art and Culture of the state government.

The SNCCAM shared its expertise and best practices in film archiving during the event, highlighting its innovative approaches despite financial constraints.

MSFDS sources said that during the inauguration of the event, the digitally restored Manipuri film “Ishanou” (1990), directed by Aribam Syam Sharma and jointly restored by the Film Heritage Foundation and MSFDS, was screened at SRFTI’s main auditorium as part of the Festival of Restored Films, showcasing Manipur's cinematic legacy alongside timeless Indian masterpieces.

A key component of ARCUREA was a two-day international colloquium exploring film’s role as cultural heritage and delving into various facets of film restoration and archiving in the Asian region.

Representing MSFDS in a session titled ‘Archiving in Government Institutions in India,’ film archivist Johnson Rajkumar presented Manipur’s remarkable efforts in preserving its cinematic past and digitizing its future.

Rajkumar's presentation shed light on SNCCAM's achievements, including the successful 4K digitisation of "Brojendragee Luhongba," Manipur's first film directed by a Manipuri film director, and the preservation of reels from "Mainu Pemcha" (1948), Manipur's earliest attempt at making a feature film.

The session also unveiled plans to digitise and restore works by MK Priyobarta and Kongbrailatpam Ibohal Sharma's 8 mm actuality films in Bologna, Italy, signalling SNCCAM's commitment to advancing its archival efforts.

This remarkable showcase of Manipur's film preservation endeavours underscores its unique position as the only Indian state with a state-owned film archive featuring a conservation laboratory, dedicated to ensuring the preservation of deteriorating films for future generations.

In addition to SNCCAM's contributions, presentations from Prasar Bharati and Kerala film archives further enriched the event, highlighting the collective efforts towards safeguarding India's cinematic heritage.