The Preservation Man

Debarati Palit Singh
Friday, 12 May 2017

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, who has been selected as a board member of IFAF, says that his work has been recognised

Filmmaker and founder of Film Heritage Foundation, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur has been elected as a board member of International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). It’s a great moment for Dungurpur because after his mentor PK Nair, he is the second Indian to be selected on the board. “For an Indian, being part of such a board is a huge honour. Nairsaab was member of the board in 1983. It’s a proud moment to represent your country,” he responded to our congratulatory message.

The ceremony took place on May 2 at the FIAF Congress, hosted by the Academy of Motion, Pictures, Arts and Sciences (the home of Oscars). 

Dungurpur was appointed via voting and 164 members from various countries had voted for him. “Being voted by so many countries is a big thing. I have been working towards film preservation and all the efforts have come to fruitition. FIAF has recognised my work,” he says, adding, “I fulfilled the criterion of the board. They select board members whose work is worthy to get elected.” 

He shares that the day he was selected also happened to be the day The Celluloid Man (a documentary on P K Nair’s work) released. “Someone pointed out to me and I couldn’t believe it. I am so proud that I could fulfill Nairsaab’s dream of making India a great preservation nation. We talk about ancient culture but we have to match it with preservation. I am finally able to fulfill the motto of globalisation of film preservation.” 

FIAF, which is based in Brussels, has been working in rescuing, collecting, preserving and screening of moving images. Dungurpur says that it’s like United Nations.  

Explaining his job as board member, he says, “We see how the development of film federation is taking place around the world; I will be part of the policy decisions, infrastructure, building of new archives, helping and guiding archives. Along with that, I will also bring attention to our own country. We will have several meetings. Our next meeting is in Italy and then Prague.”

The National Film Archive of India (NFAI) is one of the permanent members while Film Heritage Foundation is an associate member. 

Dungurpur is also happy with the increasing participation of the film industry towards film preservation. “Aren’t you seeing the change? The National Film Heritage Mission has brought about a huge change in the industry. We are constantly trying to bring industry participation. NFAI is going a fabulous job. Till a few years ago, no one talked about preservation. In fact, no one knew about it,” he says, adding, “Generally, a positive thinking has begun. We are constantly campaigning, talking.”

For the past two years, Dungarpur, along with NFAI and FIAF, has been organising Film Preservation & Restoration Workshop India 2016. The third edition of the workshop will be held in Chennai in the first week of October. Ask him how much will it hep film preservation if the common man gets involved and he says, “It will definitely help because we are primarily a film community. Indians are crazy about two things — films and cricket. Even if five more people join, it’s good for film preservation. We have seen the changes in NFAI. Through the workshop we have given around 100 archivists to the country. I believe that it will take another four or five years, for the concept to pick up,” he concludes.    

You can contact the author on Twitter @DebaratiPalitSi

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