Insight the creative groupHISTORY

Passion. It's Film


Insight is a group of creative artists, with base at Palakkad, in Kerala, India, who believe in the great potential of the very short film as a medium of communication and tool of creativity that was formed at the dawn of the new millennium. It was actually a regrouping of the founding members of the earlier, now defunct, ‘Hraswachithra’ (meaning ‘Short Film) Film Society of Palakkad, the pioneering short film and parallel cinema movement in Kerala. 

In 1979, the leading members of Hraswachithra had gone to get training in short film making from SOSFIMAK, the Society of Short Film Makers, based at Bangalore.  Hraswachithra tried to make the common people participate in film-making and in appreciation of non-commercial films.  During the first half of 1980s, whole villages were mobilized for participating in the films made by Hraswachithra.  The films were widely shown among the people of the area where they were shot and everyone got a chance to see the working of a film right up to its screening and many got a chance to appear in the films.


The members of Insight were disappointed at the way short film festivals were organized. Some ten or twelve films of varying lengths from ten minutes to forty minutes would be shown at a stretch and then time would be allowed for open forum discussions.  Naturally, most of the audience would not be able to recall the details and a few persons, mostly pseudo-intellectuals, who could be seen noting down points in the semi-darkness of the hall, would rise up to display their rhetorical capabilities combined with their shallow knowledge and confused notions on the language of cinema.  The prizes were just certificates and mementos with very little in cash.  Members of Insight decided to change the rules of the game.  

They drew up rules for a new type of ‘short- film festival’.    Only real short films could be entered in the contest and screened at the festival and there would be open forum discussions after the screening of each film.  The first prize would be Rs.50, 000/-, which was the highest in India for short films at the time. Finding time for fruitful discussions was a problem.  But there was no other way to make the discussions useful for the film-makers and film-lovers and for turning the festival into a training ground for the budding creative film-makers.  Thus, International HALF Film Festival was born.

HALF Festival 

The word HALF stood for Haiku Amateur Little Film. ‘Haiku’ is a very short form of Japanese poetry, used to mean any short form of aesthetic creativity. ‘Amateur’ denoted a creation by a creator whose chief intention in the creation was not financial gain. The meaning of ‘amateur’ implying something that lacks professional quality did not apply here. ‘Little’ stood for shortness of duration of the film, which was specified as ‘no longer than 5 minutes of total screening time including front and back credits’. ‘Film’ stood for cinematic creation in the digital video format.  ‘HALF’ also stood for the stipulated duration of the film which was 5 minutes or ‘half’ the time of a traditional film reel which is 10 minutes.  

There is no official consensus on the duration of ‘short film’. Traditionally American film industry defined it as ‘shorter than two reels’ which means shorter than 20 minutes, as the traditional film reel is 10 minutes long. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as “an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits”. The Internet Movie Database draws the line at 45 minutes. Insight decided to encourage very short films and decided that a ‘very short film’ should be less than 5 minutes long. 

The Jury of HALF Festival consists of eminent film personalities from the film field. During the festival, jury members, film-makers and the audience interact.  The winner of the Golden Screen Award in HALF Festival gets Rs.50, 000/- in cash, a specially designed memento and a certificate.  Five runners up receive Rs. 5000/- each and certificates.  All the shortlisted films are screened and receive participation certificates.  The entry fee is Rs. 1000/- for entries from India and $ 30/- for entries from abroad. 

The experience gained from the successfully conducted ten International Haiku Amateur Little Film Festivals from 2011 to 2020 has proved that the decision taken a decade ago was right. In fact, several organizations who scoffed at the idea at that time have been adapting the rules of Insight’s festival, including the duration of entries, for their festivals, with very little changes here and there.

Documentary Festival 

Insight’s definition of short films did not include animation films and documentaries which were excluded from primary short-listing. Several genuine film-lovers were against excluding documentaries from short film festivals. Therefore, Insight started annual documentary festivals during February from the year 2018. The documentary festival was started as K. R. Mohanan Memorial International Documentary Festival in memory of late K. R. Mohanan, the noted film and documentary maker, who was always a guide and support for all the activities of Insight. There was no entry fee or cash award for the first three festivals. However, from this year (2021) onwards an entry fee of Rs. 500/- for entries from India and $10/- for entries from abroad and an award of Rs. 10, 000/- with memento and certificate have been instituted.   

Insight Award 

From the year 2015 Insight instituted the annual Insight Award in the year to honor outstanding personalities in good cinema, especially personalities from Kerala who have not been given adequate recognition for their efforts in film field.  The award is for their lifetime contributions and consists of a cash award of Rs.25, 000/-, with a citation and a memento. 

Other Activities 

Insight has been regularly making very short films of less than five minutes and documentaries of longer duration. It has also been screening good old films in rural areas for the benefit of the common folk. Members of Insight have also been taking classes and leading workshops on film-making in several places in several places in Kerala. Besides, Insight cooperates with all activities of the Federation of Film Societies of India to which it has been affiliated. 


(Haiku Amateur Little Film Festival)


(Haiku Amateur Little Film Festival)

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Insight the creative group
Kalvakulam Road, Palakkad- 678001, Kerala, INDIA
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