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    This summer, go beyond blockbusters and catch up on global, off beat movies at Pondya��s cafes and cultural centres.

    Every Saturday, a dozen or so cinema aficionados assiduously mount a narrow flight of stairs to a second floor landing on Laporte Street. A nondescript room at Maitri, a social science collective, is the latest addition to the few venues that screen alternative cinema, award-winning documentaries and international films in Pondicherry. These spots attract a small but enthusiastic audience who revel in watching and dissecting cinema in its myriad forms.
    Be it jihadist extremism in Timbuktu or Dalit student suicides in Death of Merit, Maitri encourages discussion on relevant contemporary themes, says organiser Achraff Oussene. Pointing out the need for a film appreciation club in the city, he says they hope to sow the seeds by roping in experts to conduct cinematic workshops from June. Details: 9840913886
    For arta��s sake
    Artsy films in Tasmai art gallery (Shilpataru Art Foundation), Kuruchikuppam (0413 2221052), are closely linked to the art shows in progress there. For instance, Amrita Sher-Gil was the subject of a screening during an all-womena��s show, while street artist Banksy was the focus at a recent campaign to promote street art. a�?Rather than showing a movie on Picasso, I prefer to screen a documentary on a contemporary Indian artist as there is so much that Indian art has to offer, which we are not aware of,a�? says Kirti Chandak, the proprietor.
    Retro pick
    La Marina on Romain Rolland (0413 4300333) has a monthly theme going on for its mid-week Wednesday night screenings, which also double up as its ladies night. From Hollywooda��s golden oldies to riveting biographies, the films are picked from suggestions regulars put down on a running list, says Debarati Laederich, manager. The restaurant has also welcomed independent directors and aired movies that bore the brunt of censorship (Unfreedom).
    The French connect
    For a window to French or Latin culture and lifestyle, look no further than the Alliance FranA�aise de PondichA�ry (weekly, 0413 2338146) and La Casita (monthly, 7639405194). The former, has been able to provide a better viewing experience with comfier seats and sound acoustics ever since the opening of its new auditorium.

    a�� Olympia Shilpa Gerald


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