Samaj Pragati Sahayog
SPS Community Media is a full-time in-house production unit, articulating all SPS endeavours, translating ideas, practices and knowledge into films in a dynamic, interactive process in partnership with the community. The media outputs are regularly used in the capacity building efforts of the people’s institutions like SHG federations, producer companies and co-operatives that SPS is facilitating in the area.
A major challenge facing SPS is to be able to communicate its ideas in a simple, clear, understandable and appealing manner to the people with whom we work. Without such communication, it would be almost impossible to achieve our key requirement for success, which is the active participation of the stakeholders in all our programs from conception to execution.
Based out of a remote tribal village in Madhya Pradesh, SPS Community Media engages in articulating stories of people pushed in the periphery, weaving them into films and audio stories in a dynamic, interactive process, in partnership with the local community. The core team comprises local people of the area who have been initiated into creating media contents. The guiding principle has been to bring out the voices of the people reflecting lived-in experiences of the region. More than 200 films have been produced so far – social documentaries, community videos and training films. In recent times, e-magazines and podcasts are adding to the repertoire. These media contents are primarily shared with the people of the area, taking them in the remote villages in public screenings in open fields as well as screenings in small groups, in closer one-to-one interactive sessions. Over 150 media disseminations take place every month in different locations. An open-air cinema experience connects people sharing learning, experiences and ideas and adding the joy of cinema to their lives; once the monsoon recedes and the grounds are dry enough for the audience to sit, the People’s Mobile Cinema is taken from village to village in about 30 to 40 venues every season. A van has been converted into a cinema – with an in-built rechargeable power supply, an LCD projector, a 10ft by 9ft portable screen and 200 watts speakers with amplifiers. As the sun recedes in the western horizon, the silver screen is rolled down for an audience ranging from 150 to 700, spread out on the ground. The films in the mobile cinema screenings range from old black-and-white Hindi feature film classics to new productions, educational as well as documentary films.
Films in Samaj Pragati Sahayog are an extension of the work that the organisation has been engaged in for the last 20 years. Working in a remote impoverished area with a large population of unlettered men, women and children, films have enhanced our communication of new ideas and possibilities to the people. The process of filming in turn has been an experience of learning and discovery and arriving at the best possible form within innumerable constraints.
We feel translating ideas, practices and information into films should be a process in partnership with the people themselves. We constantly try to identify the most appropriate person, place, or situation within the community to articulate the film content effectively. In a style between a documentary and an instructional film, people voice the issues true to their lives but share them for the benefit of a larger populace. Based on real-life situations and articulated by people in real-life contexts, these films create a sense of serendipity for the audience and hence are appealing and acceptable. The films in turn become a medium to bring forth the voices of the most neglected and marginalised people, expressing their plight and aspirations. These are also the voices that help us to constantly reposition our work to the context.
Our People’s Mobile Cinema takes these films to remote villages along with other films from across the world. An open-air cinema experience connects people with the rest of the world, sharing learning, experiences, ideas and adding the joy of cinema to their lives.
Once the monsoon recedes and the grounds are dry enough for the audience to sit, the Mobile Cinema is taken from village to village in about 30 to 40 venues every season. A van has been converted into a cinema – with an in-built rechargeable power supply, an LCD projector, a 10ft by 9ft portable screen and 200 watts speakers with amplifiers. As the sun recedes in the western horizon, the silver screen is rolled down for an audience ranging from 150 to 700, spread out on the ground. The films range from old black-and-white Hindi feature film classics to new productions, educational as well as documentary films. 15 to 20 films are screened every season – October to May – each film doing around in every venue. An average of 140 screenings takes place every season.
Many of our films have been felicitated in national as well as international film forums.
SPS Co-founders Pinky Brahma Choudhury and Shobhit Jain, graduates of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, have guided the SPS Community Media program over the last 20 years.