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Hot Docs 2015 Review: Original Copy

A microsociological look at the Bollywood film industry, Original Copy contemplates the cultural practice of moviegoing, and the influence of advertising, from the perspective of a run-down theatre struggling against modernity.

Produced and directed by Florian Heinzen-Ziob and Georg Heinzen, the film follows hand-painted poster artist Sheikh Rehman and his team, as they work to design an advertisement for the theatre’s latest offering, across a seven day period. Rehman’s theatre specializes in classic films, and cater to a diverse audience, seeking to engage in the history of India’s national cinema. The theatre provides a catalyst in preserving Bollywood cinema’s heritage, deeply wrought in tradition. Rehmen is the last true artist of his kind, and one cannot help but be entranced by his difficult position of providing a service with no place in the contemporary sphere.

Through purely ethnographic means, the film expresses universal elements for the practice of film exhibition, that theatres even in the Western world face in day-to-day operations. Simultaneously, the directors implement sly commentary on the nature of Hindi productions, where traditional and generic narratives reign supreme in constituting heritage. In one particular moment, the owners of Rehman’s theatre ponder screening a popular recent film, OMG, despite the fact it has few musical numbers and no fight sequences.

Original Copy serves as an exemplary foray into Bollywood, while also speaking to issues of a widespread, transnational degree. The foregrounding of Rahman’s artwork allows for an accessible, humanistic element to the story, but the larger matter at hand makes the film a must-see.

[star v=4]