As you read this, India’s films are rapidly being destroyed.
We need your support to protect these works of art for future generations.
The Shabistan Film Archive is a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving and making available the cinema of India and South Asia. Our urgent mission is to rescue 20,000 prints and negatives and to build a lasting and inclusive institution around them. Tens of thousands of prints have already disappeared. With your help, we can save those that survive.
The world has never seen a greater destruction of films. As entertainment in India has transitioned into the digital age, the movie industry has abandoned celluloid film and scrapped the original reels. Thousands of titles no longer exist, while tens of thousands more survive only as blurry, low-resolution copies.
The Shabistan Film Archive has saved hundreds of films from the trash heap, and is poised to safeguard those that remain. We are cinephiles and scholars who have committed ourselves to this mission for three reasons:
It is important. Imaginative spectacles pulsating with life, India’s films are treasures of global cinema. They are unparalleled records of dozens of different languages and cultures, vibrant chronicles of the region’s history, and irreplaceable touchstones for a billion ardent filmgoers. The loss of this vast body of work would be a cultural disaster for the subcontinent and the world.
It is urgent. Every day, the former stewards of India’s films send more original prints to the dump, for the pennies the materials will fetch or simply to empty their warehouses. Other films decay silently due to heat and humidity. If we do not act now, few will survive by 2021.
It is feasible. Because cinemas no longer project celluloid film, prints and negatives are readily available to us. The outsized impact of our work is astonishing: every thousand dollars you donate will enable us to save fifty films from being scrapped. As a result, we have the unique opportunity to build a cultural and scholarly institution of global stature.
We aim to raise $300,000 (₹2 crore) by 2021. We will use two thirds of this sum to collect films and store them safely in our facility in Bangalore. With the remainder, we will begin to build a permanent institution where films are preserved, restored, and returned to circulation so that they can catalyze reflection, creation, and participation.
With your support, we can preserve India’s cinematic heritage.