Magic Lantern Foundation is a non-profit group working with culture and human rights. Established in 1989, MLF has been involved with:
- Production of documentary films that explore aesthetics and politics.
- Campaigning with films on issues of social justice, culture and censorship.
- Media education to critically assess the dominant media.
- Training in the use of media and media education.
- Intervening in the construction of media policy.
- Dissemination of independent films.
- Research on IPR in the realm of knowledge and culture production.
- Curation and organisation of film festivals.
After several years of making films and screening them to a wide range of audience – from film festivals, local, national and global, to informal screenings with students and activist groups, to those among rural communities and people’s movements – MLF has increasingly felt a wide gap that exists between films and their audience and felt the need to make proactive interventions to bridge the gap. So, since 2004, MLF has organised a series of film festivals on its own and has encouraged student and civil society groups to do similar projects in their local areas.
In January 2004, MLF organised a four-day film festival, Other Worlds Are Breathing, for the World Social Forum in Mumbai. In this festival, 83 international films, selected from over 300 submissions, were screened to huge audiences in two auditoria. Subsequently, we have organised the following film festivals:
- Other Worlds are Breathing 2005 during WSF at Porto Alegre. (This festival is continuing to travel in India and other countries. The European Social Forum 2008 screened this festival).
- The Woman’s World, on women and health for the 10th International Women and Health Meeting (IWHM) held in New Delhi, India.
- In November 2006, MLF, as part of the Delhi Film Archive, organised the 3 Screens Film Festival at the Public Ka Multiplex, during the India Social Forum in New Delhi.
- Moving People: Africa-Asia Interface on Migration/ Refugee/ Exile/ Diaspora conducted during the World Social Forum 2007 at Nairobi.
- Persistence Resistance: A festival of contemporary political films at the India International Centre, New Delhi in April 2008. (A selection of films from this festival also travelled to London.)
- Persistence Resistance 2009, the second edition of the festival at the India International Centre, New Delhi in April 2009. (Selected curation from this festival travelled to the FTII, Pune, SCM-Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, NID, Ahmedabad and MIFF 2010.)
- Persistence Resistance 2010, the third edition of the festival in New Delhi. Selected package of films have travelled to Mumbai, 3rd Samsung Women’s International Film Festival, Chennai and University of Hyderabad.)
All though the years, MLF has encouraged other groups and organisations to curate film festivals on specific themes and helped such groups to organise local film festivals by curating thematic packages, as well as providing films.
Meanwhile, in August 2005, MLF initiated its distribution centre, Under Construction, conceived as a non-broadcast, non-commercial distribution mechanism for independent films aiming to bridge the gap between films and its audience by enabling viewers to access a large number of films from a single source and to circulate independent films and documentaries in the public domain.
While continuing to make films in the years to come, MLF would lay more stress on increasing the visibility and reach of independent films in the public domain, so that a diverse range of thematics, perspectives, forms and narratives enable richer debates and discourses.