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...Germans by film school

The art and business of contemporary film-making in Calcutta has received a German shot in the arm with the Hamburg Media School signing an MoU with the state government to initiate exchange of students, faculty and films from RoopKala Kendro.

Insa Sjurts, the CEO of the Hamburg institute, and Subesh Das, the West Bengal principal secretary for information and cultural affairs, have inked the memorandum. The event was billed as the high point of the weekend city visit by a delegation of media, film production and culture centre heads from Hamburg.

“This is the fruition of an 18-month overture and we chose RoopKala Kendro over Bollywood because we always felt the language of their films is unique in a sense and they make films as a social process, which underlines a responsibility to protect the family values of Planet Earth,” Hubertus Meyer-Burckhardt, the head of the film class and chairman, Hamburg Media School, told Metro.

RoopKala Kendro, in Sector V, is a film and social communication institution and a registered autonomous society under the information and cultural affairs department.

It was set up as an Indo-Italian project and handed over to the state government.

The thrust of the Hamburg collaboration is mainly threefold — exchange of students, professors and films being produced at RoopKala Kendro — over the next four years, Meyer-Burckhardt said. The first batch of five students from the Calcutta film institute leaves for Hamburg in February, to be reciprocated by a Hamburg group soon.

City students can attend workshops in Germany involving the country’s top contemporary directors and producers and will also have an opportunity to be part of the Hamburg Film Festival in June. There will even be options for students to do bridging courses at either end.

“Bigger and better things will follow. Our larger dream is a German producer making a film written by a Calcuttan and maybe vice versa,” smiled delegation leader Nikolas Hill, also state secretary, ministry of culture, sport and media, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

Hill said the trip was primarily to “understand the range of creative industries in Calcutta, which is the intellectual backbone of India”, and was confident of fruitful alliances with the city in many other creative sectors.

“For instance, we see great similarity in spirit and concept between our iconic Elbe Philharmonic Hall, which is now being constructed, and the Kolkata Museum of Modern Art (KMOMA) coming up in Calcutta, both designed by the same firm (Herzog & de Meuron). Going forward, I see good scope for engaging KMOMA in dialogue with Elbe Philharmonic, which will become contemporary Germany’s calling card,” he observed.

The state secretary of Hamburg’s culture ministry was also buoyant on sharing some of the Hanseatic city’s inner city regeneration programme inputs with Calcutta.

“Much of the urban decay in this great metropolis with such wonderful heritage architecture could be arrested with the right kind of expertise and we have that in Hamburg,” Hill stressed.

He said Harbour City University in Hamburg, offering courses in architecture and urban planning, could be interested in twinning arrangements with some Calcutta architecture institutes.

To match the soccer connect which their southern rivals Bayern Munich has established with Calcutta, Hill said he would speak to presidents of the two Hamburg football clubs, Hamburg SV and St Pauli, to explore areas of cooperation.

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