The Cinema Travellers
The traveling cinema lorries of India bring the joy of movies to rural villages
Marking the 70th Anniversary of Indian Independence
Showmen riding cinema lorries have brought the wonder of the movies to faraway villages in India once every year. Seven decades on, as their cinema projectors crumble and film reels become scarce, their patrons are lured by
slick digital technology. A benevolent showman, a shrewd exhibitor and a maverick projector mechanic bear a beautiful burden - to keep the last traveling cinemas of the world running.
The film was inspired by director Madheshiya’s award-winning photographs from 2010 that captured moments of joy, despair, and wonderment as villagers gazed transfixed at the big screen. At one time, there were thousands of nomadic cinemas wending their way around the Indian countryside and bringing the magic of the movies to those that would otherwise never experience it; today, there are fewer than 40.
The aforementioned Bapu’s Akshay Touring Pictures is one of two companies, along with Sumedh Touring Pictures run by the enterprising Mohamed, that Abraham and Madheshiya follow at close quarters, observing the daily trials of keeping such a show on the road.
“Although The Cinema Travellers simply could have been a sad chronicling of the struggles of a once-vibrant industry in its final throws, its triumph lies in how it also captures the magic of this unique, collective movie-watching experience.”
- Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter
“Intimate documentary is ode to enduring power of film… Travelling Indian moviehouses and the lives of the men behind them create a moving portrait of a changing medium.”
- Benjamin Lee, The Guardian