Olympics in Reel Life: India Hosts Unique Festival Celebrating Sports and Cinema

Industry Watch | September 20, 2023 | News

Olympics in Reel Life

India is set to host the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session for the first time since 1983. Against this backdrop and amidst growing talks of India's interest in hosting a future edition of the Olympic Games, the Film Heritage Foundation, in collaboration with the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, presents a groundbreaking event called "Olympics in Reel Life – A Festival of Films and Photographs."

This two-week-long festival, in partnership with the National Centre of the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai and the India International Centre (IIC) in Delhi, promises to be a unique celebration of the fusion of film, art, and sports. Supported by BookASmile (the charity initiative of BookMyShow), Qube Cinema Technologies, and Hyperlink, the festival is designed to captivate a diverse audience, ranging from schoolchildren to film aficionados and sports historians.

The event unfolds in three segments:

1. Olympic Movie Marathon: Featuring a lineup of 33 films and 10 series spanning various Olympic eras and continents, this marathon promises to showcase not only sporting achievements but also the evolving social, cultural, and political landscapes of the last century. The films, drawn from the archives of the IOC and the Olympic Channel, will be screened throughout the day in Mumbai and Delhi.

2. Olympism Made Visible: This international photography project, led by the Olympic Museum, delves into the profound role of sports in society, demonstrating its capacity to foster social development and peace. Acclaimed fine art photographers, including Poulomi Basu, Dana Lixenberg, and Lorenzo Vitturi, have lent their creative perspectives to this initiative. Basu's photographs, captured in Odisha, will be unveiled to the public for the first time, highlighting the broader impact of sports beyond the Olympic arena.

3. Indians in Olympics: Collaborating with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), this segment celebrates India's remarkable achievements at the Olympics. Photographs capturing memorable moments of Indian sports stars at the Olympic Games will grace 15 prominent locations in Mumbai, serving as a constant source of inspiration.

Some notable film highlights include the earliest Olympic film from 1912, Kon Ichikawa's "Tokyo Olympiad," Leni Riefenstahl's groundbreaking "Olympia," and "Visions of Eight," an anthology of films directed by renowned filmmakers. Additionally, the Olympic Channel series "Jee Jaan Se: India's Olympic Hopefuls" and "Sports Swap India" add to the festival's charm.

In this celebration of sports and culture, workshops by distinguished photographers, including Lorenzo Vitturi and Dana Lixenberg, are set to enhance the experience. A discussion titled "Behind the Lens of Olympism Made Visible" will feature insightful conversations between these photographers and acclaimed Indian photographers Sooni Taraporevala and Sunhil Sippy.

"Olympics in Reel Life" promises to be a one-of-a-kind event, where the magic of cinema, the beauty of photography, and the spirit of sports converge to create an unforgettable experience for all. This festival serves as a testament to the enduring power of the Olympic Games to inspire and unite people worldwide.

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur – Filmmaker, Archivist & Founder Director Of Film Heritage Foundation said, “As India prepares to host the International Olympic Committee session in Mumbai this year since 1983 and amidst talk of Indian interest in hosting a future edition of the Olympic Games, Film Heritage Foundation is delighted to present a truly unique event - Olympics in Reel Life – A Festival of Films and Photographs in partnership with the Olympic Museum based in Lausanne, Switzerland, that will be a showcase of the heritage, art and culture of the Olympic Games captured on still and moving images. 

The IOC has a fantastic collection of archival films dating back to over a century, many of them directed by some of the most renowned filmmakers in the world. The film programme includes 33 films and 10 series that is a feast for cinephiles, sports and history buffs and children offering them a rare opportunity immerse themselves through the day for a week to watch not only some of the greatest sporting moments of both Indian and international champions over the decades, but also the changing history of the world reflected in these moving images. In a true celebration of our Indian Olympians, we will be putting up iconic photographs of Indian champions in 15 prime locations across the city. We will also be presenting Olympism Made Visible an exhibition of fine art photography that includes the work of internationally acclaimed photographers like Dana Lixenberg, Lorenzo Vitturi and Poulomi Basu. I would urge people in Mumbai and Delhi not to miss this one-of a-kind festival that marries sport, art and film.” 

Yasmin Meichtry, Associate Director, International Olympic Committee Culture And Heritage Department added, “This festival is truly the first of its kind in India – a unique and rare opportunity to view world-class films and photographs selected from the rich heritage collections of the International Olympic Committee,” said Yasmin Meichtry, Associate Director of the IOC’s Culture and Heritage Department. “From short film series to award-winning feature-length documentaries and the internationally acclaimed Olympism Made Visible photography series, we are proud to present such a wide selection of works. Through this Olympic Museum partnership with Film Heritage Foundation, we can advance shared knowledge of Olympic history and engagement with the Olympic values and inspire India on its own Olympic journey.” 

Khushroo N. Suntook, Chairman NCPA noted, "The zeitgeist of a nation replete with possibilities is shaped at the intersection of sports, art and culture. As India’s major platform for artistic expression, the NCPA is delighted to host the week long Olympics in Reel Life: A Festival of Films and Photographs. It has been our constant endeavour to support India’s presence on the global stage. The event promises to be a remarkable visual spectacle and it is a great privilege for us to enable India's calibre and Olympic spirit. We look forward to welcoming you."


Amitabh Bachchan – Actor And Film Heritage Foundation Ambassador said, “I am delighted to hear that Film Heritage Foundation is partnering with the Olympic Museum to present a unique event this October in Mumbai and Delhi - Olympics in Reel Life – A Festival of Films and Photographs that will celebrate over a century of film heritage beginning from the 1912 film of the Stockholm Olympiad. 

Most people are not aware that some of the most renowned filmmakers from around the world have made more than 50 Official films that represent some of the greatest sport documentaries made in the world. Audiences in Mumbai and Delhi will have the rare opportunity to indulge in an Olympic movie marathon as films will be screened through the day over two weeks showcasing over a century of sporting history through Olympic films and an exhibition of photographs that capture the spirit and philosophy of the Olympics as well as Indians at the Games over the decades. 

Being an Olympian is a mark of great honour for a sportsperson and a goal that many of them strive for years to achieve often under great hardship. The festival will remind us of the achievements of our Indian Olympians in photographs and films which capture not just the incredible human endeavour of sport, but also the historical and social context in which the Olympic Games are held around the world. We are fortunate that the Olympic Museum has preserved and restored these films so that the film heritage and culture of this majestic sporting event is available for future generations to enjoy.” 

Abhinav Bindra – India’s First-Ever Individual Gold Medallist – Won Gold At The 10 M Air Rifle Event At Olympic Games Beijing 2008 noted, “Winning an Olympic gold medal was a dream I ardently pursued, for it represents the pinnacle of sporting achievement. Yet, upon attaining it, I discovered that the essence of the Olympics transcends mere victories and the spectacle of the Games. It's about imbibing and spreading the Olympic values that have the potential to shape the lives of our youth profoundly. I was deeply moved to learn that the Film Heritage Foundation is collaborating with the Olympic Museum for 'Olympics in Reel Life', a film festival and photo exhibition. This initiative not only offers Indian audiences a glimpse into the rich history of the Games through archival films but also unveils Poulomi Basu's enchanting photographs from Odisha, capturing the transformative influence of sports on the youth. The power of sport, combined with the spirit of the Olympics, can indeed illuminate countless young dreams.” 

Mahesh Bhupathi – Tennis Player – 5-Time Olympian added, “I have been blessed with an extraordinarily long and successful career during and I am proud to say that I have played in five consecutive Olympic Games. It was my dream to stand on the podium at the Olympics and win a medal not just for myself, but for my country. While Grand Slam events happen yearly, the Olympics are a different ball game as you get to represent the flag. The Olympics taught me that there is a world beyond my own sport and I have seen for myself the tremendous drive and mental strength that athletes from all backgrounds show when striving for Olympic glory against all odds. “Olympics in Reel Life” - a first-of-its-kind film festival of Olympic heritage presented by Film

Heritage Foundation and the Olympic Museum should be attended by everyone who loves sport and film as it captures the great sporting history of the world over a century.”

M.M. Somaya - Field Hockey Player – Member Of The Team That Won The Gold At The 1980 Moscow Olympics said, “The most memorable match of my career was the final of the 1980 Moscow Olympics against Spain. It was my first international tournament and that too, an Olympic final where we won the gold after 16 years. The occasion was overwhelming. But it was after I retired from the game that I realized it was the leadership skills that I learned on the hockey field that has stood me in such good stead in my life. I was so happy to hear about Film Heritage Foundation and the Olympic Museum’s partnership for Olympicsin Reel Life that would highlight the art, culture and philosophy of sport and Olympic values that is about the journey to the podium rather than the goal. I am honoured to have been invited by Film Heritage Foundation to launch the poster of the festival with the legendary superstar Mr. Amitabh Bachchan and other great sportspersons and Olympians.” 

Aparna Popat – Badminton Player- Two-Time Olympian added, “I was so pleased to hear that the Film Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Olympic Museum was presenting this unique festival that would showcase Olympics in Reel Life - Olympic heritage films, and also have a photograph exhibition that captures the spirit of Olympism. When I began my badminton journey as a child, aspiring to attain sporting excellence, I was immensely inspired by powerful images of the Olympics that I saw on the screen. That inspiration helped me achieve my dream of representing India at 2 Olympic Games and winning a record 16 National singles titles in a span of 17 years. 

I strongly feel that the Olympics represents so much more than just the Games and medals. Olympism, as a philosophy, speaks about friendship, excellence and respect - values that are relevant and important in our everyday lives. I am proud to be invited to launch the poster of the festival along with my fellow Olympians. Sports teaches you less about winning and more about living. Sports gave me the necessary education and the life skills to learn how to accept, adapt, persist and face challenges. These learnings are what makes participating in sport so valuable for the younger generation.” 

V.G. Jairam, Founder, Hyperlink Brand Solutions said, “Hyperlink has always been at the core of movements that connect communities and powerful stories with the audience. We are glad to be teaming up with FHF and Olympic Museum for this extraordinary event that encapsulates the very essence of the Olympics, and we are proud to bring

this unique vision to reality. At the same time, we are thrilled that the commencement of this Olympic event is done with the poster reveal. We would like to invite the people to witness the convergence of art, passion, and the Olympic spirit, as we bring the Games to life at NCPA in a way that has never been seen before." 

Farzana Cama Balpande, Head, BookASmile noted, “We are thrilled to be able to extend our support to the cause of development through sport in the form of this inspiring visual festival ‘Olympics in Reel Life’ put together by the Film Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Olympics Museum. To travel the historic journey and the social context of the Olympic Games over the years through a stupendous collection of films and photographs, that explores the role of sport in society and presents a case for it to be a key catalyst in social development, speaks closely to the work that BookASmile does in pushing the boundaries of development in India amongst lesser privileged groups through sports, cinema, music, performing arts and so much more. We feel privileged to be able to partner with a project such as this, which will carry this global legacy to future generations of our country and serve as a beacon of inspiration for more individuals to choose sport as a way to create impact of the highest order.” 

Olympics in Reel Life - A first-of-its-kind festival of Films and Photographs presented by Film Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Olympic Museum takes center stage in Mumbai and New Delhi.

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