In the heart of Mumbai lives Sheikh Rehman, the city‘s last painter of film posters. His studio is run in the old masters‘ style – behind the screen of „Alfred Talkies“, a crazy old Hindi-Film cinema. He works to a backdrop of film sound – curses, shots, kisses. This is Rehman‘s realm, over which he presides like a painter prince of bygone times. Stripped to the waist, he chivvies his staff, hurling abuse at them whenever they use the wrong colours. Rehman is both artist and guru, comedian and philosopher.
The sheer scale of artistic endeavour is strangely divorced from the films themselves: B-pictures, involving lots of shooting and even more fighting. And they have all rattled through the antique projectors so many times, it appears to be snowing on screen. Not that this bothers the audience, who come here mainly to spend three hours under the humming ventilators, recovering from the tribulations of city life.
This anarchic cinema is operated, strangely enough, by a woman: Najma Loynmoon grew up in „Alfred Talkies“, which was founded by her grandfather in 1932. Ordinarily he would never have passed his cinema on to his granddaughter – a mere woman. Having no male heir, he eventually had no other option. But when he gave Najma the key to his realm, he uttered the curse: „You will sink my boat!“
Rehman‘s legacy is also a difficult one. His father was one of the best-known film poster painters in the entire city. In his days, dozens of banners were painted in shifts inside the studio. But today, film posters are printed on plastic. And the construction boom in Mumbai Central has largely driven the „Alfred Talkies‘“ audience away. But Rehman is a genuine Mumbaikar. With the combination of bluster, philosophical resignation and wisdom gleaned from Hindi-Films so typical of citizens of Mumbai, Rehman struggles to pass on his father‘s legacy. And so every week, Rehman paints a new banner, only to paint over it and start all over again.
Original Copy – the film poster painter from Mumbai as a modern day Sisyphus. Not just a metaphor for the immortality of film itself, but also for life in general: the things we do for their own sake, because that is what makes us human.
DIRECTOR Georg Heinzen & Florian Heinzen-Ziob
CINEMATOGRAPHER Enno Endlicher
EDITOR Florian Heinzen-Ziob
MUSIC Sanjay Marathe
SOUND Kai Holzkämper
PRODUCER Georg Heinzen, Florian Heinzen-Ziob
PRODUCTION Florian Heinzen-Ziob und Georg Heinzen GbR
FUNDED BY Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Kunststiftung NRW, Goethe Institut Mumbai, Kulturamt Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf
DISTRIBUTION FUNDINF Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM)
WORLD SALES Magnetfilm GmbH
Best Documentary, Fantastic Fest Austin, USA (2016)
Best Documentary Director, Fantastic Fest Austin, USA (2016)