This Week: George Eastman Museum opens two exhibitions and kicks off film series as part of Stories of Indian Cinema

Photographer Nandita Raman to host gallery tour at noon on Friday, November 10

Rochester, N.Y., November 8, 2017Stories of Indian Cinema, which comprises two exhibitions—Abandoned and Rescued and Nandita Raman: Cinema Play House—will open at the George Eastman Museum on Saturday, November 11, with a preview on the evening of Thursday, November 9. Abandoned and Rescued tells the intriguing story behind the Eastman Museum’s recent acquisition of a collection of contemporary Indian films and posters. Raman’s Cinema Play House series features photographs the artist made in various single-screen cinemas in India, many of which are threatened by the emergence of multiplexes. Both exhibitions will be on view in the museum’s main galleries through May 13, 2018.

Between 2006 and 2009, Nandita Raman traveled throughout her home country of India creating Cinema Play House, a series of photographs depicting the country’s slowly disappearing single-screen theaters. Raman, whose family once owned one such theater in Varanasi, India, focuses her lens on the architectural anomalies that set these spaces apart from the larger theatres that currently threaten their existence. Raman’s photographs take viewers both behind the scenes and into the public areas of these timeworn spaces, revealing traces of the people who moved through them.

In the fall of 2014, the George Eastman Museum was given the opportunity to acquire a collection of Indian films from an abandoned multiplex in Southern California. What was originally estimated to be a hundred films turned out to be 774, representing 597 titles—all in 35mm format, made between 1999 and 2013. After the swift and necessary efforts to save these films, the Eastman Museum now holds the world’s largest collection of contemporary Indian cinema at a museum or film archive. The exceptional collection includes not only films from the Hindi-language film industry commonly known as Bollywood, but also Malayalam, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu productions. Through staff commentary, original posters and materials, and film screenings, Stories of Indian Cinema: Abandoned and Rescued tells the intriguing behind-the-scenes tale of this collection’s journey to Rochester and the Eastman Museum’s ongoing efforts in film preservation.

As part of the Abandoned and Rescued exhibition, the museum’s Dryden Theatre will present a series of films from the collection, focusing on some of the most popular and groundbreaking films that have shaped the look of mainstream contemporary Indian cinema. Upcoming screenings include Devdas (Sanjay Leela Bhansali, India 2002) on November 9 at 8 p.m. and Om Shanti Om (Farah Khan, India 2007) on December 7 at 7:30 p.m. Additional screenings are planned for 2018, including the following titles: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Ashutosh Gowariker, India 2001), Swades: We, the People (Ashutosh Gowariker, India 2004), Umrao Jaan (J. P. Dutta, India 2006), Dev D (Anurag Kashyap, India 2009), and Kadal (Mani Ratnam, India 2013). For film descriptions and screening dates, visit eastman.org/dryden.

Public Programming
Thursday, November 9
Exhibition Preview
6 p.m.
Curators’ Remarks & Conversation, Dryden Theatre
6:30–8 p.m. Exhibition Preview, Main Galleries
8 p.m. Film Screening: Devdas (2002), Dryden Theatre
Curators Jurij Meden and Will Green will give remarks, and artist Nandita Raman will join the conversation. Cash bar and light refreshments. Film screening included with event admission. Free to members, $15 general, $10 students. Reservations required: (585) 327-4850 or membership@eastman.org.

Friday, November 10
Artist’s Gallery Talk: Nandita Raman: Cinema Play House

Artist Nandita Raman and Curatorial Assistant William Green will guide visitors on a tour of the exhibition. Free to members; included w/ museum admission.