Reel Dad: ‘The Last Film Show’ celebrates movies at Tribeca Film Festival

A still from "The Last Screen Show."

A still from "The Last Screen Show."

Tribeca Film Festival / Contributed photo

The nine-year-old boy stares, in awe, at the screen, sitting in a movie theater for the first time.

Already aware of the potential of his creativity, and the realities of his surroundings, the boy quickly grasps the power of celluloid to take him to worlds he has never imagined, to meet people he may not otherwise encounter. No one has to tell this boy, named Samay, what a special experience a movie can create. All his parents care to explain is why he can’t spend his days and evenings in his new favorite place: the movies.

Pan Nalin’s exquisite film, “The Last Film Show,” a highlight of this year’s Tribeca film festival, celebrates the magic of the movies through the eyes of one boy who changes his life once he discovers his first film. Not only is Samay dazzled by what he sees on the screen in a simple movie house in a village in India, he seems to immediately recognize how this medium can transform lives. Without having to attend a film class, the boy instinctively internalizes how this experience, so entertaining with its color and action, can prompt change as it helps people understand where they are and consider where they can be. Within minutes of seeing his first film, Samay knows he can live a richer life because he loves the movies.

Moviemaker Nalin tells this delicate story with care and compassion, creating a clear narrative that respects the challenges Samay and his family face without relying on excessive sentiment. As Samay begins to explore how to see more movies after his first encounter - despite his father’s objections - writer/director Nalin enables us to experience this discovery through the boy’s curious eyes. In a small projection room of a movie house, where actual film projectors rely on the low-tech wonders of celluloid, Samay learns the mechanics of the process as well as the potential of a story to lift people to fresh wonder. He experiences, as he develops the skills to use the splicer, how to assemble stories as he ponders what it would take to create his own projection system to share the magic he experiences with friends and family.

As serious as this story may sound, Nalin never forgets he works in an art form that must entertain as it enlightens. We cherish the humor Samay brings to his adventures, the observations his friends contribute, and the wisdom he hears from the projectionist who opens his mind to this new world. As we absorb the hope Samay carries into new experiences, we savor the difference movies can make to any life, no matter how we enter a virtual or actual movie space.

Each year, the Tribeca festival brings the best of independent cinema to Manhattan. This year, as the city begins to feel more like itself each day, the Tribeca tradition reminds us how the movies capture what life is and can be. The Last Film Show perfectly portrays what this festival means to the city and what movies can mean to all of us.

“The Last Film Show” runs 1 hour, 50 minutes. This subtitled film, not rated, is appropriate for family viewing. “The Last Film Show '' is available to stream on Tribeca At Home at tribecafilm.com.

Film Summary: The Last Film Show

Content: High. This exploration of a young boy's fascination with the movies celebrates how film can change lives.

Entertainment: High. Thanks to the sensitive work of moviemaker Pan Nalin, the film captivates our hearts as it follows a nine-year-old boy's journey into the world of film.

Message: High. How this boy navigates the challenges of bringing movies into his life, and his village, we are reminded how this art form can enrich any place, any time.

Relevance: High. Any opportunity to share such a meaningful story is always relevant.

Opportunity for Dialogue: High. The movie can prompt conversation between you and your children about what we experience, together, when we share watching movies.