What is Film?
I met Sanal shortly after his film Sexy Durga had just won the prestigious Hivos Tiger award to get an interview for Umbra. We had known and met each other a few times by now and there was a sense of comfort, it was a relaxed afternoon conversation. He told me about his childhood, education and the long, arduous journey until then. His father would take him to watch films as a kid almost as a ritual, even though his father was never supportive of his decision to become a filmmaker and instead wanted him to have a job as an accountant or a lawyer. Sanal was one among many filmmakers who I had had the chance of meeting and chatting over the years, and their childhood had similar nuances, many had stories about their parents saving money to visit the local cinema, or a travelling tent film setup – taking their children as they felt the stories would be useful, the characters will help their children develop higher morals, and the entertainment will help fill the otherwise mundane lives, often the film became a reward too for good grades, doing chores and behaving well with guests perhaps.
While they were at the cinema, an occasional pop-corn, ice-cream or cola was possible when there was some ‘change’ to spare, possibly and strictly during the intervals, it would be extremely ugly and impolite to hear someone munching pop-corn when the protagonist is suffering a break-up, licking an ice-cream would be too distracting in between a heist and what if you dropped cola on yourself in excitement of the chase, so you had to finish your snack before going back into the hall and you did want to get back in after the important trip to the stinky toilets because the story was at a cliffhanger.
When I was a kid growing up at Siliguri in the 1990’s, we lived in a house that had no electricity, we had a battery powered black & white television – our chief source of entertainment where we would see live telecast of cricket matches, occasionally some TV soaps and the weekly film on Saturday evening after dinner. The 12volt battery, weighing about 20kgs would last about 25 hours after a full charge and charging station was about 5 kms from our house, it took 24 hours for the battery to be fully charged and it cost INR 10/-. The battery enforced a certain cyclical routine, helped us plan and prioritize our television viewing, there were other tenants in the house who depended on our television for the weekly film and for live cricket matches, it was helpful when they contributed for the battery charging, sometimes even taking the battery to the charging station on their bicycles.
We kept the TV on a short table and had jute mats spread in front for people to sit, bare minimum comforts but our attention to the films were all that mattered, in summers we had mosquito repellent incense burn a few minutes before so they won’t distract from the film. The film would often be interrupted by commercial breaks that would last a few minutes giving us enough time to change our postures, stretch and flex, take a quick leak etc. We would usually have our dinner at half past eight so that the room could be cleared and arranged for everyone to watch the film. Towards the end of the film, in one of the breaks we would see a trailer and announcement of the next week’s film. It was crucial to be attentive otherwise you would spend the next day asking other people if they knew about the next week’s film, if it was a good film you definitely want to check if the battery needs charging and get it done by Friday. Sometimes when the hero would die at the end, we would feel very sad, we would even talk about the unfortunate tragedy, and wish the world would know his true worth, by extension perhaps our true worth. When the TV was turned off we would recede in our beds and gradually fall asleep, sometimes thinking, sometimes writing a letter or a poem.
Cricket matches required more planning and arranging for a backup battery incase a tournament was on, I often thought about how much money the charging station owner must be making, a few times I peeked into the charging room, I had expected it to be very dangerous and complicated with large vats of acids and lights due to the stench of acid it produced but instead I saw a dimly lit room with just one tungsten bulb hanging from a loose wire in one corner and rows of batteries connected to each other via cables connected to a switch board like thing, very uninspiring.
What is Film?
In the last three decades, cinema adapted aggressively with refined projection systems coupled with high fidelity audio, cushioned seats that could also recline to almost flat and with pillows, finely tuned centralized air-conditioning to keep you from sweating even in stressful situations, fragrant and breezy toilets where you don’t have to be in long queues, beautiful and comfy lounges with long counters that are capable of serving you within minutes even during a block-buster crowd with the choice of your beverage, pop-corns, samosas. The cheapest of seats also have cup-holders so your beverage can relax, premium seats also have pull-out trays where you can place your platter of snacks, ice-cream is served in a cup so it won’t drip while you are engaged in a scene. The high-fidelity sound is good enough to drown most of the pop-corn crushing, and the air-conditioning takes away the heat from projection and electricals, the stench of numerous cola spills and snacks that have been on the floor as well as the ones that are hot in your platter, it also makes you feel hungry as cooler temperatures make you burn more energy.
The entire setup is extremely smooth to accommodate as many people with as much comfort and control that they are not just captive audience but also captive buyers, to make the whole thing easier the internet made it possible to buy your tickets without getting in a queue, hassles of currency exchange and minutes before the show, regardless of the day of the week. The whole machinery is smooth and efficient to handle continuous flow of people, every day of the week for 18 hours a day, there was no reason for the machinery to shut-down or move to a new location. While the exterior has dramatically improved to facilitate easy movement something more has changed in the interior to assist the sales.
Films in the last three decades have largely been consistent with their narratives, very rarely have they disappointed the viewer. Regardless of the magnitude and severity of the adversaries our protagonist, the male hero, is faced with, he will come out victorious at the end. If the hero is confronted with a military, he would immediately be joined by friends who are all trained to operate sophisticated equipment and are willing to fight with him without him having spent literally any time in building those friendships. If he finds himself chasing a thief in a car, he would find a sophisticated car with the keys in, conveniently handed to him, and even if you have not seen him driving before, he turns out to be a great at it, once he has caught up with the thief and almost dented every inch of his car, he can simply leave it wherever he wants. If he is faced with supernatural beings trying to torment entire cities and sometimes the planet, he is also accidentally hit by a laser, bit by a bug or chemical spillage that gives him some superpowers to save the city and the planet.
Often the hero is also someone who inherits family wealth and does not need to think about how that wealth exists, he can just go around with his expensive toys, saving some people and becoming the hero that he was destined to be since the time he was born. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the universe can stop our hero from winning, he can at best lose a battle in case of a franchise, but the war will ultimately be his victory.
Our hero is not just an excellent person, brave and righteous but also a beautiful lover. Regardless of where he lives he often finds the most beautiful, kind and exciting girl in the town. The girl he went to school with, the woman he met on the bus, the waiter at a nightclub, almost anyone and everyone is willing to fall in love with him and make babies, even if they also sometimes have heroic abilities, the last thing they want to do after the war is over, is to make love and make babies. Regardless of how ugly the beginning is, the end is always beautiful and picture perfect. Regardless of how he behaves with his girl, the girl will always come back to him, worship him and make babies with him.
It is also popularly known and taught in film schools across the world as the story arc, the basic structure of a good story, the elements of a good film – its characters, incidents and outcomes have to fit within this arc to make a selling pitch.
Yes, selling is important, when was the last time you made a big purchase while you were sad, lost in thoughts or just nostalgic? It is important to remember that cinemas are not standalone buildings or tents, they are housed inside of big shopping malls. When the film is over and you are gently moved out of the halls you are thrown in a corner of the mall from where the exit would be longest. You have to feel like a hero, returning victorious from the battle, having overcome great personal loss, with your girlfriend or family, in order for you to open your wallet and sit for a dinner or buy a dress, some nice shades or shoes.
The sales do not stop there, we buy expensive cars, dresses, private jets, diamond rings, yachts and holiday packages often paying hefty EMIs for years. We also buy drugs, exclusive memberships to clubs, costumes for yourself and family, books, posters, sports and fitness equipment, computers and electronics, motorcycles, furniture and the list goes on and on and on. The film also functions as promotional material for a number of other things including but not limited to recruitment in the army, justifying and normalizing genocides and racial abuses, religious or political deification etc. Regardless of what (all) they sell, it is important to remember the number one rule of advertising – to hit a home run, you need to agitate and then make people feel good about the choice they make, to make people feel good, films not only had to end on a positive note, they also had to raise adrenaline, testosterone and dopamine levels, while not being distracting or too intense to prevent you from munching, sipping and occasionally checking your smartphone.
In the last century there has been extensive research and development in methods of persuasion using visual media and while the image is a significant part of it, some covert methods such as playing a sub-sonic soundwave throughout the film can alter our attention and response to the film have been well established, and with finely tuned audio systems it is extremely effective while completely unnoticeable, 3D and virtual reality simply extend the entire gamut of possible exploits to a far more effective and efficient level, so much that big studios working in conjunction with big marketing corporations can predict buying patterns to a great degree of certainty and organize shopping complexes with merchandise that will sell efficiently for every film release.
What is Film?
Film is a subject under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the same body that also regulates PR, advertising and communication organizations. It is highly taxed commodity that generates a good return for the government not only via the direct entertainment tax, but multiple other streams of revenue – VAT / GST from a plethora of products and services, interest on loans, income-tax from artists and producers’ personal incomes, highway tolls, entry fees from various tourist places, you get the hint. The story is the vehicle for commerce. There is absolutely no possibility that the government will in any way de-regulate the industry, ease censorship, or provide stimulus for alternative films – that is simply antithetical.
Film also helps the government significantly to canvass its efficiency and public perception. The right-wing BJP government has given special attention to the film industry since it came to power: Salman Khan met Mr. Modi at a non-descript rooftop to fly kites back in January 2014, several isolated meetings were held between Mr. Modi and major film stars over the years including a gala banquet hosting majority of Bollywood when Mr. Modi returned to power.
This is nothing new, the Nazi party gave special attention to films and often held filmmakers hostage to make propaganda films, the British Government instituted and funded the first organized Film Development Board in India which produced some excellent works largely intended to inform the masses and inculcate good habits, correct social practices, study indigenous tribes etc. Mr. Nehru gave special attention and filmmakers and critics across India are familiar with the Nehruvian influence on films, subsequently Mrs. Indira Gandhi maintained close relations with film stars and producers when the industry started becoming independent from government support and studios started acquiring power. The details of these associations over the years are not just gross but often vindictive and manipulative for the people, the audience at large.
Akshay Kumar starrer Padman and Toilet are examples of canvassing where a massive problem of rural open defecation and women hygiene was solved not by effective policy, administration and reform but simply by mass release of the film across theatres in India, if you are asking how that is possible, stay with me, it has taken some time to understand this.
When stripped down, the Indian government is a non-profit body that functions on the basis of the Constitution, with members elected every 5 years, the Prime Minister is simply the General Secretary of the non-profit Society. If you have been in that position, you know that for every program you run you need capital and manpower. When Mr. Modi started the Swacch Bharat Mission, it had all the elements of an effective marketing campaign, it urged people to donate to the Government in a special fund, collected a 0.5% cess on all taxable services. It raised capital from major corporations, industries, state owned enterprises and via international aid to a tune of INR 620 billion ($8.7 billion).
When you are running a non-profit organization, your primary answerability, unfortunately, lies with the donors and you prepare extensive reports, surveys and impressive visuals to validate your project. The donor never makes a trip to the village to see what the problems were or whether they have been solved, reports are important therefore. In this scheme of things, a film like Toilet fits perfectly delivering the reports to the major donors in the Swacch Bharat Mission – the Indian middle class at large that paid the majority of sums via the 0.5% cess over 5 years via each and everything they consumed, bought and invested in. The easiest way to address the Indian middle class, that lives in urban centers and has access to various screens can easily see the return of their investment via a film like Toilet. I was talking to a friend who writes ghost articles and reviews art pieces about whether she has seen the film. She said, ‘me and my friends don’t need to see such films, we paid for the project, we hope the government did their job. I hope the film is seen by the rural people to know how important a toilet is’.
The Swachh Bharat Mission achieved its objectives in the year 2019 and has been declared a success on every parameter. Akshay Kumar joined the Swachh Bharat Mission as a brand ambassador in 2015 and produced Toilet in 2017 the film resulted in a box office collection of INR 311.5 Crore. That figure is bigger than the entire capital that circulates in the independent film circuit in India, that figure competes with entire budgets of major film festivals, awards and independent distribution deals. There is still plenty of revenue that the film will make via its satellite, internet and other distributions networks, and a significant amount of savings on tax as the film is a chief vehicle for messaging and canvassing of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
The numbers and the story they tell is so transparent that it is futile to argue with it. It is futile to fight and request the Ministry to change even a letter in the Cinematograph Act, the Censorship Rules or the film distribution ecosystem, to benefit a few independent filmmakers whose combined equity is less than 10% of the gross economic output of the mainstream industries (regional industries combined). It is all the more futile to expect that the government will incentivize independent productions merely to advance a cultural agenda as it is difficult to regulate independent voices and the likelihood of criticism of the government is extremely high.
The image is where the memory is, all governments understand that, so they are happy promoting the glossier, grander and happier image that also guarantees a good return on investment. The governments also understand that if the criticism is worthy, it will find its own way, and such films will eventually reach its office requesting a clearance for distribution, therefore the tighter censorship rules, the more control it can extend the government.
What is Film?
It was a cozy afternoon at Lightcube office in New Delhi on the 14th of May, 2018. Anuj and I were meeting for a specific discussion related to our ongoing crisis at work when we were visited by a certain friend and cinephile who happens to possess encyclopedic knowledge and connections in the independent film circuit, and some connections to the fringes of Bollywood by virtue of his location being Mumbai. This friend also works very hard to maintain a certain kind of presence and pose both online and offline – the artistic persona with some traits of a recluse and obscure person. It was only natural that conversations flowed in many directions.
Conversations like these start immediately, I have come to understand that cinephiles are extremely burdened by the experiences they have had mainly because the exercise in itself requires a certain degree of social isolation, at the same time it produces immense noise of ideas and feelings. This burden is so heavy that before they have properly said hello to each other, they burst into berating bad films and filmmakers, praising and upholding their ideal films and filmmakers – usually from the first few films they saw, name dropping and relentless swearing. At some point, the friend exclaimed that a specific filmmaker was not qualified enough to even speak of the subject of Gita Govinda let alone make a film around its subject, and no amount of reading is sufficient, an understanding of it was simply impossible for people who do not belong to a certain hierarchy.
Hierarchy is important – it contains within its codes a specific amount of purity and excellence that is unattainable by someone outside the hierarchy. In a context like India hierarchies are defined by birth and descent and never by the individual’s merit, there is no social mobility. Essentially this is a perfect equilibrium – the status quo cannot be changed and any attempt to redefine or re-tell a story will be massacred by those who believe themselves to be worthy of the practice. The countless individuals who suffer years of poverty and subjugation before finally giving up in a city like Mumbai are just symptoms of a disease called hegemony, those who reject the city and that language of cinema are not free either, another hegemony engulfs them. This hegemony will not let an outsider to tell stories, not because the stories or the story-telling is bad, but simply because they are not qualified as individuals because of their lineage. What is ironical is those who cry against such hegemony are themselves also the perpetrators of it as far as their arms can reach.
This hegemony also decides what stories will be told, it forbids a fresh perspective and denies anyone the validity to proclaim a fresh insight – it serves itself. By the time an independent filmmaker musters enough strength to speak against such a structure, the argument is already weakened by invalidating the purity of purpose. Collective response isn’t possible because independent filmmakers also have lineages and hegemonies to uphold, and there is no collective body, which outside of the politics of access, is willing to convene for such action. It is sufficient if the collective is able to establish its own following and attract a few people from the fringes in Bollywood (or regional cinemas)
A few years ago, I also had the (mis)fortune of associating with a major Arts Festival, a significant Independent Film Festival and a Music Festival in India. The hegemonies at these festivals are so actively in play that no young volunteer or paid staff wants to work again. The Independent Film Festival almost performs a prostration when a minor celebrity from Bollywood happens to land. The Independent Music Festival also happens to feel elated if the wife of an A-list celebrity happens to visit, and the Arts Festival seems to have gathered all the artists and works to simply entertain bureaucrats and ministers, to the extent that venues have closed down because a scheduled minister did not show up, that people get to engage with arts at such places is a mere fallout of the exercise and not the purpose.
The films of the last three decades have also been about reinforcing these hegemonies. A traditional family with intact patriarchy and hegemony, the molecular unit of society was a distinct feature of the films made since the late 1990’s by majority of the industry. These films also defined and propagated the hierarchies between different societies of the village, the city and the megapolis. For decades before, the central figures were characters that emerged from rural landscapes and after maniacally running in the constricted lanes of the city found a shelter and perhaps an identity.
The early 2000’s choked and suffocated this character and almost wiped them off the screens establishing that the narratives, and as an extension the individual, worthy of being treated with love on screen was simply the urban, elite and upper-caste (reflected by the physicality, complexion and mannerisms). It was so stark that even their co-habitants in the city – drivers, maids, cleaners, workers were all erased from the screen or placed obliquely in the frames. The rural was worthy of contempt and ridicule at every instance and did not deserve even a half monologue. It was easy because the people making and controlling these films had no connections with the non-city, they had never seen a village, other than a set, which some stupid writer had written in the script. Do not be mistaken by the few recent films that are set in the rural landscapes, they are nothing more than exotic, for years we have been discussing the need to de-colonize the gaze but eventually we have assimilated the colonial gaze and the exotic pleasure of looking at the village from the rhythm of the city. Films like Lagaan, Gangs of Wasseypur, Udta Punjab, Gulal, Danga, Toilet etc. are simply confirmations that the hegemony is far more secure, than it has ever been.
Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince, the son of a major in the artillery unit of the French Army had spent his entire teenage and adulthood learning and assisting the photography pioneer Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, the same person whose name leads to Daguerrotype, as ancient as photographs can be. Le Prince also studied painting in Paris and had a post-graduate degree in Chemistry from the Leipzig University. One would imagine that with his perseverance, education and family, there would be no need for him to commit suicide just a few weeks before his first film was to be projected from a device that he was about to receive patent for in the US as well as in Europe. In September 1890, after a successful experiment and showing the first film in the history of Cinema to his family and co-workers and before departing for the United States for the first public screening in New York, he took a brief journey to visit his brother in Dijon, France. He never arrived, nor were his belongings located. There have been multiple attempts to uncover the truth over the last century but surprisingly things get more convoluted every time. What’s relevant to know is that Edison received his patents in the subsequent years and is known as the inventor of cinema in US, while the Lumiére Brothers are hailed as inventors of the Cinématographe and first exhibitors in Paris.
In India, we celebrate Dhundiraj Govind Phalke as the father of Indian Cinema for his film called Raja Harishchandra. Ramchandra Gopal Torne whose breadth of experience and filmography is richer than that of Phalke, is denied that honor merely because Torne sent his reels overseas for processing. One doesn’t consider that Ramchandra Gopal Torne was just 22 years old when he made Shree Pundalik and due to the death of his father he and his mother were asked to leave their house in Malwan village and were forced to live in poverty, with just 4 years of formal education at the age of 11, Torne dropped out of school and headed to Mumbai, where he found employment at the Cotton Green Electrical Company where he learned basic electrical installation and instrument repair, it is a surprise that his filmography has some excellent movies, which none of the archives have managed to preserve well. Dhundiraj Govind Phalke who was 43, born into a Brahmin family, studied at the J J School of Art in Bombay and had access to the photo studio and laboratory of Kala Bhavan for 20 years before he made Raja Harishchandra, of course he is worthy of being called the father of Indian Cinema. If you happen to visit the two footnotes referenced above, notice the disparity in the references in those articles on Wikipedia, if you have enough time, follow a few of those.
What is Film?
If a plush PVR seat is your idea of a good film experience, then you are the most unfortunate generation to engage with the beauty and enormity of cinema. I consider film to be one of the most expressive artistic mediums with a significant breadth of possibilities. With greater access to quality hardware and simplified production processes and lightening speeds with which content can travel, one would expect greater diversity of films and faces.
That would be true if the economics of film dealt simply with box-office revenues, however, box-offices moved inside the airconditioned malls, which meant that only people who are able to afford not just the ticket but the endless distractions offered by the mall were welcome and the rest were not. There is an infinite amount of awkward nudging towards buying things that we don’t need, that after a few attempts, those who are young and eager but not rich-enough give up on the idea of going to a theatre. If they try to window shop or simply walk around in a mega-store, curiously looking at the range of products, chances are that they will be assumed as workers at the store putting them in an awkward position of a customer beginning to negotiate with them. The super-fine imagery, glowing complexions they see on screen do not seem familiar, after a few trials of the cosmetics they realize that no number of products will change their natural complexion, those on the screens were born with it. The majority of Indian population is born with a wheatish to dark complexion, but if the films always have fairer people (unless they are antagonistic characters), whose stories are these?
The last face on the screen which was not fair and yet recognizable was of the beloved Johnny Lever, who played the most important role in any story he was placed in, was silently martyred in the early 2000’s. Now, if you want to see an entertaining person who is dark-skinned and is able to sustain their craft, the only place would be a stand-up stage. If you are fair-skinned, rich-enough and live within a metropolis, or within a 20km radius of a multiplex in your town, chances are that you like to go to the theatre regularly with friends and family almost like a ritual.
Naturally this filtered audience would dictate the content of the cinema that they consume, the size of this audience is unfortunately very small – 57% of regular Indian employees earn less than Rs. 10,000/-. Those making a comfortable salary of more than Rs. 50,000/- form just 1.6% of the total workforce in India, a rather conservative news outlet magnifies this figure and places it at 3%. If we club the non-regular employees, the self-employed, the business families and the politicians, the total population in this bracket is far less than 10% of the population of this blessed country. That figure is so small and yet so large when we put it to perspective, if a given film attracts one crore people to the box-office and sells tickets for Rs. 300/- each for the premier show the total collection is a whopping 300 Crores. A single sale beyond this and journalists, critics, bureaucrats, ministers, activists and yuppies all start drooling. Imagine if this figure was to increase by a digit, even a zero, it would explode the entire industry into a kind of frenzy never seen before, and it would require simply a fraction of 1% of our population to visit the box-office. This isn’t just about Bollywood; regional industries too are serving that miniscule fraction of their linguistic population which is able to afford the multiplex.
When the largest exhibitor of India, PVR, is still aiming to achieve an annual footfall of just 10 Crore by 2022 (which now seems highly unlikely), if realized that would still be just 7.4% of the population, we can safely say that even with extrapolated figures, the formal / organized film distribution businesses don’t reach to more than 10% of the population annually.
If cinema is made for and consumed by less than 10% of the population, is it truly national cinema? If the industry is concentrated / centralized to tiny spaces which accommodates and employs only a handful of people and yet does not give them the identity and dignity they are worthy of, and if you engage with the plush seating, air-conditioning and fast-food much more than you enjoy the film, is it even collective memory?
What should make us hopeful though is that there is 90% of the population that is eager for validation, identifiable content and is seeking a sense of community, living in third, fourth and fifth tier cities, towns and smaller villages in this blessed country. Many are able to create and access content via technological progress, the door is beginning to open. What will catalyze this process is education and empowerment that helps in being familiar with the tools at our disposal – not just the camera, but the distribution platforms. Easier revenue and taxation mechanisms that help filmmakers to sustain their motley crews. Great, diverse and truly national cinema will emerge as a whole from the sum of these parts and not individually from specific linguistic or economic nooks.
Successive governments over the last three decades, owing to the lack of proper advisory I suppose, have failed to recognize this vast sector and as a result have not worked at all in developing it. As a result of this inaction (often politically motivated), this blessed country is losing billions of Dollars to foreign studios and distribution platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others. The answers to these conundrums are not easy, they will require significant investments over time, in a highly structured manner, and most importantly visionary leaders and policy makers.
A traditional film rests upon the shoulders of its protagonist – the text reveals its full meaning and emotion through the projection of our actors. There is no doubt that a good many highly skilled people have lent their expertise in composing, arranging and exposing the scenes, despite that, as audience, our memory of the film is mainly the protagonist. The undivided attention that we give to the film for hours ensures that the faces of our protagonist will live forever in our minds. During my attempt to initiate the Dhenuki Cinema Project in my village, I remember conversing with an old member of our community in Dhenuki, who seemed to remember the face of the actor in a film he saw 40 years ago. We have also followed page three snaps and gossip shows which have kept us informed of their sons and daughters, years before they appear on the screen for the first time, we are already familiar with their faces, and yet when the film begins and ends, the credits are always highlighted for the protagonists, for a good few seconds, while the credits with much more weight and skill behind the names are rolled off the screen almost instantaneously, I have found it impossible to read all the credits of the film due to the font-sizes, the scroll speed or the associated graphics which divert attention.
Worker Unions have been so demoralized and systematically destroyed that skilled workers in the major industry of Bollywood in Bombay are no more secure than a non-skilled worker toiling at a construction site in Noida. Horror stories of poverty and grief suffered by labourers (lights, sound, production staff, stuntmen, choreographers and others) employed by the industry are revealed every time someone scratches the surface of the glossy page three snaps. What we do not remember are the members of the cast and crew who have remarkable journeys and experiences in their life and who have risked everything they valued to seeing their names on the big screen someday.
If we cannot give them a little fraction of our undivided attention, then whose cinema, are we? If we cannot remember the sacrifices, the loves and heartbreaks of our own, whose film industry, are we? If we have stories of fear, oppression and insecurity among our peers, how are we calling ourselves the best / biggest film industry?