Humans of Cinema encourages people to share letters addressed to the characters and films that have helped them through hard times – and the results are truly moving.
In a world where everything and everyone is vying for your attention 24/7, there’s something pleasingly revolutionary about turning off your phone, tucking yourself up under a blanket and immersing yourself in a world or situation completely different from your own.
Checking in with your favourite character can also sometimes feel like reuniting with an old friend, especially when they’re someone you can relate to.
With all this considered, it’s no surprise that cinema can play a particularly important role when it comes to our mental health – and that’s what Harshit Bansal’s Instagram account Humans of Cinema aims to portray.
With an impressive 78.3k followers, Humans of Cinema allows followers to send in their letters to favourite characters or films, detailing why or how they became such an important part of the person’s life. And the responses are often deeply moving.
The account’s most recent post, submitted by a follower called Dev, is a perfect example. Addressed to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the letter details how the film has helped and comforted him through some hard times.
“Dear The Perks of Being a Wallflower… no matter how many times I watch you, I always sit with excitement and zeal because you’re the only one that gets me every time,” the letter begins.
“It is weird how a movie is so relatable that you feel that you are watching your past self and think that you could have done so many things so differently,” he continues. “I can’t thank you enough for existing and not leaving me alone in my darkest times.”
The account’s current format, where users share stories about a film that helped them through a tough time, only started at the beginning of May (previously users just wrote a letter about their favourite film or TV show, without the mental health angle) – but the social, cultural and political impact of cinema is something Bansal has been thinking about for a long time.
“I’ve been a film buff all my life, but I started thinking about the personal, social and cultural impact of films only in the past few years,” Bansal told The Mighty. “While I continued to be affected by films so deeply and also kept on observing a similar effect on the society in general, it was baffling to see some people insulting cinema by calling it merely a source of entertainment with no social repercussions.
“I just felt that the best way to disprove them would be through people sharing their own experiences of how films have had a significant impact on their lives,” he continued. And that’s how the name came about too. It’s less about the films themselves and more about the humans that watch them.”
Whether it’s going to the cinema alone, scheduling some comfort screen time at the end of the day, or just immersing yourself in your favourite world every so often, it’s clear that cinema is a pretty powerful thing, and something we shouldn’t be disregarding when it comes to our mental health.
With so much negativity and bad news coming at us left, right and center, there’s something wonderfully simple about the relationships we have with the people on our screens – and it’s about time we celebrated that.