Projectionists: The Men In The Shadows | 101 Traces

Mumbai’s Liberty Cinema is one of the last few screens that still uses the reel projector, and the men who operate it.

Back in the day, watching a video involved a lot more than just pressing the play button. It took practice and skill to correctly load a reel into the projector and make sure the show went on uninterrrupted. For decades, Aslam has been the man in the shadows at Mumbai’s Liberty Cinema, pouring his love for cinema into the art of running the reel. But with the growth of the multiplex and the digital film, art deco cinemas like Liberty have had no choice but to ‘upgrade’ to modern technology. Somewhere along the way, the art and science that is the projectionist’s trade may just be lost forever.

101 Traces looks at the last of anything: ethnic communities, folk craftsmen, disappearing trades, forgotten people. It sketches portraits of these unique individuals, locked in a battle they cannot win: a battle against the future. Together, they represent the dying whispers of ancient heritage and traditional individuality. As India moves towards homogenized global pop culture, 101 Traces honors the people, the objects, and the skills that connect us to our ancient identity.

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