Introducing the Shabistan Film Archive

David Boyk's picture
Dear colleagues,

I am writing to introduce the Shabistan Film Archive ( and to ask for your help. The transition to digital projection has rapidly transformed the entire infrastructure of film in South Asia, so that celluloid film now has very little material value. Increasingly, the expense of storing films is seen as a burden, with the result that tens of thousands of films have already been destroyed—sold for scrap, burned, or sent to the bottom of lakes. Our Bangalore-based nonprofit organization is responding to this crisis, which threatens to erase decades of cinematic history, by collecting films from across India and South Asia and preserving them for future scholars and film lovers.

You can help Shabistan preserve South Asia’s film history. We ask your support in three crucial areas:

1. Funding. Although we have collected hundreds of films already, thousands more are available to us as soon as we have the resources to transport and store them. We urgently need funds to acquire and safely store films and, in the longer term, for restoration and exhibition. Even small contributions are helpful, both in themselves and because they will help us when approaching other donors.

2. Films. There are many thousands of films remaining in cities, towns, and villages around the subcontinent. We welcome all information and assistance in acquiring prints, negatives, and ephemera.

3. Volunteers. Our all-volunteer team is stretched thin, and any assistance would be a boon. We are especially looking for help in these aspects of our work:


a) Collections. We are looking for volunteers around the subcontinent who can work with us when films become available.


b) Cataloguing. Cataloguers can be located anywhere. Knowledge of one or more South Asian languages is beneficial, but not required.


c) Fundraising. Fundraisers, too, can be located anywhere. Volunteers would ideally have backgrounds in business or the nonprofit sector, and would help us contact potential donors.


To offer your support, please write to me at, or to our Executive Director, David Farris, at We very much appreciate help of any kind. Please forward this message to colleagues, students, friends, and anyone else who comes to mind, and do not hesitate to contact me with questions or to learn more about our work.


David Boyk
Operations Director
Shabistan Film Archive