Film societies: Taking cinema to another level



By Atul Mishra

Film societies and clubs in India are in as much resonance with the movie culture as are commercial theatres and multiplexes. But the former has come a long way since Satyajit Ray, with a few others, founded the Calcutta Film Society in 1947.

The 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein, The Battleship Potemkin was the first film screened at this society. In 1959, Federation of Film Societies of India was formed as a central organization combining the film societies of Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Patna. All these societies since then have been screening alternative and relevant cinema, holding meetings with aspiring filmmakers and film buffs to spill their creative cinematic cerebrums out.

With free accessibility to movies on torrents, film societies have seen a decline in the spectatorship. In order to deal with such a situation, these organizations have recently screened alternative cinema and scheduled discussions for cinephiles.

Let’s have a look at some of these conglomerates which can prove worthwhile for movie enthusiasts.   

Habitat Film Club

Situated in India Habitat Centre and founded in 2000, Habitat Film Club screens various films of all genres and diaspora every month. The Film Club hopes to expose its members to the wealth and variety of cinema from across the globe. From the early classics to the avant-garde styles of the new filmmakers, as well as films from mainstreams cinema showcasing the works of the legends and rising stars of Indian & World cinema. Screenings are coupled with film appreciation lectures and interactions with eminent directors.


Lightcube was founded in April 2012 by Suraj Prasad and Anuj Malhotra. It is located in Noida. Lightcube Film Society generally organizes two types of festivals: Retrospectives of Directors (instances from the past: Fritz Lang, Alain Resnais, Buster Keaton, Satyajit Ray) or festivals of distinct films that belong to the same thematic or ideological fiber (instances from the past: Transmissions 2012, DIAF 2012, Distant Firelights). This society intends to make cinema reach beyond the metropolitans and hence they always initiate screenings in various villages across the country.

Shamiana, the short film club

Started in 2010 and run by Priya Bhattacharji, Shamiana has no fixed venue to screen its films. The idea is to be accessible to film enthusiasts. This society screens only short films. The club screens at Habitat Center, Blue Frog, Alliance Francaise, among other venues. The entry is free. For more information, one can visit

IIC Film Club

Initiated in 1967, the Indian International Center Film Club is today the oldest functioning film society in Delhi. Open to all members of the Centre, its members includes filmmakers, artists, academicians, film critics and scholars, journalists, students and other cinephiles. Every month, the Film Club screens four to six films of merit and excellence, films that are normally not available in the commercial circuit. In addition, it presents festivals and retrospectives around the classic work of renowned directors as well as films by avant-garde directors in the international circuits shaping new directions in cinema.


Cinedarbaar, located in Greater Kailash, is a team of movie enthusiasts, programmers, critics and strategists working in the sector of Art, Culture and Education. Their film festivals are very exclusive and selective in approach, screening only the best pieces of cinema. Screenings are then followed by intense discussions. The recent screenings include LGBT film festival, Singapore Film Festival and Artificial Intelligence Festival.