• Shanmugam Studio/Wikimedia Images
  • Director Adoor Gopalakrishnan will introduce four of his films at the Logan Center for the Arts.

Considering how rarely Indian art cinema is exhibited in Chicago, the partial retrospective of films by Adoor Gopalakrishnan screening tomorrow and Friday at the Logan Center for the Arts (as part of a three-day symposium on Indian cinema) constitutes a major event. All four films in this miniseries will be screened from vintage 35-millimeter prints; even more remarkable is that these screenings are free and that Gopalakrishnan will be in attendance for all of them.

Born Moutathu Gopalakrishnan in 1941, the director renamed himself after his home town, a religious and educational center in the southwestern state of Kerala. He’s remained in that region for most of his adult life, entering into the Malalayam film industry in the mid 1960s. (I was surprised to learn that movies have been made in Kerala since the 1920s and that the state houses one of the biggest filmmaking industries in the country.) He started directing feature films in the early 1970s, when India’s parallel cinema movement was in full flower. In brief, parallel cinema refers to filmmaking that isn’t influenced by Western models or by Bollywood; like contemporaneous figures in Senegal (Ousmane Sembene), Brazil (Glauber Rocha), and the Philippines (Lino Brocka), the filmmakers in this movement aspired to create a native art cinema of their own.