Help Shabistan Preserve India’s Heritage
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 the cinema of India and South Asia. Our urgent mission is to rescue 20,000 prints and negatives. These will form the core of an institution dedicated to the preservation, study, and appreciation of one of the world’s great troves of creative expression. 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 India’s entertainment industry has transitioned into the digital age, celluloid film has been abandoned. Thousands of movies no longer exist, while tens of thousands more survive only as blurry, low-resolution copies.
The Shabistan Film Archive – already the third largest of its kind in the world – has saved hundreds of films from the trash heap, and is poised to safeguard those that remain. We are volunteers 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 2020.
It is feasible. Because theaters 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 an institution of global stature.
We aim to raise $100,000 by the end of 2018. We will use half of this to collect and transport films to our warehouse in Bangalore. Another quarter will fund storage and cataloguing, and the remainder will lay the foundations for the next steps of our mission: institutional partnerships, restoration, and exhibition.