The Cinema Travelers | Chicago Reader

The Cinema Travelers

Director-editors Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya document a hardscrabble company in Maharashtra, India, that goes from one small town to another screening movies from beat-up 35-millimeter projectors. The filmmakers show great affection for the projectionists (some of whom have been with the business for decades) as well as the equipment, with loving close-ups of the men maintaining their machines with monkish devotion. This effectively channels their joy in sharing movies and their spectators’ joy in experiencing them; like an Indian counterpart to the wonderful Uruguayan comedy A Useful Life (2010), the movie celebrates the everyday people who thanklessly keep film culture alive. A subtle sense of mortality enters in the final third, when several of the men decide to replace one of their 35-millimeter machines with a digital one and another projectionist discusses his retirement, but on the whole this is lively and life-affirming. In Hindi and Marathi with subtitles.

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