The Documentary Blog Recommends: Salim Baba

I’m a little behind on this one (three years behind to be exact) but I just checked out director Tim Sternberg’s beautiful short documentary Salim Baba and was pretty much blown away. The film looks at one man’s love of cinema and his attempt to maintain a family tradition in the face of technological advancements. Salim Muhammad lives in Kolkata, India where he pushes a handmade portable cinema cart around town for the local kids to watch cut-up versions of Bollywood action scenes and dance sequences. It’s a tradition that was passed down to him by his father and one which he will pass on to his own sons. Not only is this short beautifully shot and edited, but it captures a love of film — through both the subject and the craft of the documentary, itself — and perfectly represents the importance of maintaining cultural traditions, be it through Salim’s family-run movie cart or India’s relationship with cinema.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2008 in the best short documentary category. It’s also worth noting that the film is produced by Scott Mosier (along with Francisco Bell–who also served as cinematographer–and Raja Dey), who’s probably best known for his work with Kevin Smith (most recently as co-host of their hilarious podcast, Smodcast). Check out the film posted in its entirety at the top of this post.

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