‘Alpavirama’ is comma in Sanskrit - a precious pause - a brief stretch of time reclaimed for reflection and repose.
In celebrations of cinema short films are generally overlooked, compared to the full length feature. But there is something intrinsically special about short films. Short films are like life itself, with multiple colours and nuances, each transient yet for ever. There are many quirky, intimate, unfinished aspects of human existence which can be best conveyed only in a short film format. Further, since this kind of filmmaking faces less commercial pressure (cheaper to produce, hence financial gain not the only consideration), it is more likely to explore cinematic form and frontiers, allowing marginal and off-beat stories to be told.
People involved in making short films mostly just stop there; and a lot of films thus never reach the audience (save an indifferently disseminated & accessed online link here and there), their authors neither having the will nor the wherewithal to proceed further. The available offline exhibition avenues haven’t also caught up with the noticeable increase in the number of short films being made (what with the relatively cheap DSLR-Laptop combo having aroused the latent filmmaker in most of us). Further, most such spaces are dominated by older established filmmakers, leaving no platform for the large number of under-30 talents. There is need for more offline venues and occasions where these young, enthusiastic and often innovative filmmakers are recognized, celebrated and inter-mingle.
At the Film & Video Communication department in the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India we have been promoting short filmmaking for over quarter of a century. Through these years our students and faculty have created numerous short fiction and documentary films, and the artistic quality and social relevance of these films have been recognized the world over. Our alumni occupy important creative positions in the moving image industry, in India and abroad. Thus it’s natural that we play an active role in establishing a credible exhibition platform for short films – especially those given life by the under-30 youth, in these disparate yet uniquely alike lands of Asia.
Alpavirama 2011 and 2014 editions were significant steps in that direction, focussing on South Asia. Alpavirama 2016, now pan-Asian, should see us consolidate and celebrate the vibrant Asian spirit; and the diverse yet converging flavours of Asian Cinema in all its short form glory.