Cave Paintings to Moving Pictures:  The Journey of Documentary Film Making

Vakkom Moulavi Foundation Trust > Blog 3 Columns With Frame > Cave Paintings to Moving Pictures:  The Journey of Documentary Film Making

Is the earliest known form of documentary cave painting? As he was discussing the background of documentaries, Amudhan R.P. posed this question to the audience. Undoubtedly, cave paintings serve as documentation of the events that took place. Therefore, the history of documentaries begins with cave paintings, followed by ancient paintings, modern paintings, and photographs. Now, after the invention of moving pictures, the history is still evolving. He also said the first movie was a documentary. It was a single shot of a moving train by the Lumiere brothers.

This discussion took place in the creative documentary film making workshop conducted by Swadeshabhimani Media Study Centre under the Vakkom Moulavi Foundation Trust on creative documentary film making for young people on May 6, 2023. Around 30 people attended the workshop.

The workshop was conducted as a part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Vakkom Abdul Khader Moulavi (1873–1922), who played a major role in the reformation of Kerala society in the early 20th century. The Media Study Centre is planning to conduct a workshop each month.

The workshop was led by Dr. Fathima Nizaruddin (former Assistant Professor, Jamia Millia University) and acclaimed documentary film maker Shri Amudhan.R.P., who has made around 20 films and is the founder of the Madurai and Chennai International Documentary and Short Film Festivals. Dr. Fathima provided an exposition about the shifts in the language of documentary filmmaking with the arrival of new technology. Participants were encouraged to critically evaluate the manner in which documentary films that deal with issues of social justice and equality are influenced by these shifts. Shri Amudhan provided an orientation to creative documentary films, with screenings and discussions about selected documentary films from across the country and internationally, which covered the different genres, the history, evolution, and contemporary trends in documentary film making.

The workshop discussed topics like moving images, Initial films by Lumiere brothers, shorts, first fiction, first honour and first special effects in cinema, British cinema, Soviet cinema- about poverty and marginalised people, Nazi propaganda, various film schools, direct cinema from USA, Films Division of India, Indian independent documentaries, film festivals, different kinds of documentary practice, screening Practices and so on. Among the films screened in the workshop were, works of the Lumiere brothers, Nannok of the North, A Season Outside and clips from Anand Patwardhan, Deepa Dhanraj, Amudhan and other independent documentary film makers.