We are happy to present the latest issue of Pickle for the
delegates at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival and sales and
industry representatives. TIFF is unarguably the biggest festival and market in
For India, and now increasingly to South Asia, Toronto has
become a hub for discovery of talent. Toronto is a great place to be in
especially for young Indian filmmakers who are visibly changing the face of
Indian cinema. Being discovered at Toronto opens them a new path to their
cinematic techniques and excellence. Toronto leads the global film festival
outfits to bring into limelight excellence and best minds in Indian cinema.
This year four Indian films are being screened at TIFF,
including The Sky is Pink directed by Shonali Bose (Galas 2019), Moothon (The
Elder One) directed by Geetu Mohandas (Special Presentations 2019), Jallikattu
directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery (Contemporary World Cinema) and Bombay Rose
directed by Gitanjali Rao (Contemporary World Cinema).
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government
of India, in collaboration with
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has set up India Stand at the
Industry Centre which will provide a platform to popularize Indian cinema in
the overseas market and facilitate new business opportunities. The objective is
to promote cinemas of India, film locales and services and 50th edition of
International Film Festival of India in Goa (November 20-28, 2019). A breakfast
session with global producers is slated for September 9.
With this edition, we have changed the masthead of Pickle.
It is much leaner with alphabets following smooth lines. The idea is to give
ourselves a refreshing brand new look, underscoring our moto to embrace change
for the better. We look forward to your views and suggestions on the new mast
created by Shruti Remalli.
The Indian media ecosystem is changing fast. The Over-the-
Top (OTT) space is gaining attraction in the Indian market with the presence of
Hotstar, Voot, ErosNow, ZEE5, Sony Liv, ALT Balaji, Sun Nxt, Amazon Prime and
Netflix, which are expanding and growing the market in India.
Pickle’s October print issue will focus and reach out to delegates at MIP Junior and MIPCOM — the world’s biggest audiovisual market at Cannes, France. Feel free to email your thoughts and suggestions.
The 44th Toronto International Film Festival will, like the editions that have gone before, will see the emergence of a clutch of Oscar favourites. The focus of observers will be not only on the film that wrests the festival’s coveted Audience Choice Award, but also on a host of other buzz-generating titles By Saibal Chatterjee
World cinema greats like Pedro Almodovar (with the
autobiographical Pain and Glory, which fetched Antonio Banderas the best actor
award in Cannes), Bong Joon Ho (whose Parasite bagged the Palme d’Or this year)
and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth (follow-up to the 2018 Palme d’Or-winning
Shoplifters) in the TIFF program seeking to launch their Oscar bids.Which are
the other TIFF films that have the power to capture attention in the awards
Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, starring Scarlett
Johansson and Adam Driver, isn’t premiering in TIFF. The Netflix film arrives
in Toronto after competing in Venice. The indie director’s new drama, which
delves into a once-happy marriage falling apart under the weight of the
clashing individual compulsions of the partners, promises to be one of the
buzziest titles at the festival. Marriage Story, ironically focused on a
divorce, also has notable performances from Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta
Both Driver and Johansson have another title each in the TIFF 2019 programme –
the former is in The Report, the latter in Jojo Rabbit. Both films are expected
to be talked about in the lead-up to the Oscars.
film that is most certainly up for Oscar glory is the Tom Hanks starrer A
Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, directed by Marielle Heller. While Hanks is
one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? earned
three Oscar nominations earlier this year, including two in acting categories
(for Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant.
A Beautiful Day…, one of over one hundred world premieres in this year’s TIFF
line-up, Hanks plays children’s television host Fred Rogers who becomes the
subject of a profile for a cynical, reluctant New York journalist (Matthew
TV personality’s wisdom and generosity transforms the writer who starts out
with the intention of rustling up a superficial writeup. But the encounter
turns out to be much more than that. The film is based on Tom Junod’s Esquire
article about his experiences with Rogers.
Phillips’ Joker, a comic book movie with a difference, narrates the origin
story of the arch-villain. The eponymous character is played with customary vim
and vigour by Joaquin Phoenix. While the lead performance will surely be on the
Academy’s radar leading up to Oscar night in 2020, the film is in with a chance
to become the second comic book movie (after Black Panther) to earn a Best
This searing portrait of the quintessential bad guy
is set in early 1980s crime-infested Gotham City. The cast of Joker includes
Robert De Niro as a talk show host who is idolised by Arthur Fleck, a hard-up
clown who aspires to be a successful stand-up comic and, thwarted in more ways
than he can countenance, lets the demon inside him wrest control of his being
and turn him into a crazed killer.
We will also be keeping an eye on the flight of The
Goldfinch, the John Crowley film that Warner Bros. will launch at TIFF.
Starring Nicole Kidman and Ansel Elgort, the film adapts a Pulitzer
Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt about a layered coming-of-age crime story
woven around a young man who loses his mother in an art museum bombing.
Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio that won the 2017
Best Picture Oscar for The Shape of Water, will bet big this year with Taika
Waititi’s anti-hate satire Jojo Rabbit, another buzzy TIFF world premiere.
The inventive film centres on a German boy who, on
discovering a Jewish girl hiding in his home, consults his imaginary best
friend Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself).
Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio
Banderas, is a sharp dramatization of the Panama Paper leaks, which revealed
the unsavoury world of global finance. Adapted from an investigative
journalist’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reportage, the film has been scripted by
Scott Z. Burns, who also has his own directorial project, The Report, in TIFF.
Report, a powerful expose of CIA’s torture tactics, stars Adam Driver as an
investigator deployed by the US Senate to probe the country’s use of
third-degree methods post-9/11.
The cast includes Annette Bening, who could well be in Best
Supporting Actress Oscar contention for her part in a political thriller that
tracks one man’s dogged, half-decade pursuit of answers to many questions
triggered by CIA’s unbridled use of torture as a tool of investigation.
Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, which world premieres at TIFF, could make amends for the total snub that the Scottish director’s most recent film, The Death of Stalin, received from the Academy. The new film is bolstered by a cast of proven actors – Dev Patel plays David Copperfield and is supported by Tilda Swinton, Ben
Whishaw and Hugh Laurie. Iannucci imparts a decidedly contemporary sensibility
to the Charles Dickens 19th century classic.
TIFF hosts the North American premiere of Benedict Andrews’ Seberg, the biopic of French nouvelle vague icon Jean Seberg. The titular role is played by Kristen Stewart in a drama in which the FBI turns the spotlight on the actor owing to her growing friendship with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal. Among the less fancied titles that might acquire a higher profile by the end of the festival is Cory Finley’s Bad Education, starring Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney and Ray Romano. It is based on a true story of a financial crime in the US school system.
This film, as much a character study as a dramatized account of a massive coverup of a scandal. Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet, featuring Tonywinning Broadway
actor Cynthia Erivo, is another film that has the potential to attract wide awards season attention. It
is the rousing biopic of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and led other to
freedom through a network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.
India’s ‘fabulous four’ in the 44th Toronto International Film Festival represent exciting and distinct cinematic voices. These films, three of which will be world premiering in TIFF, have compelling stories, employing methods that stem from unique sensibilities. At one end is the story of a real-life urban couple learning life lessons from a terminally ill but spirited daughter (Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink) and at the other a tale of a buffalo that escapes from its butcher-owner and sparks a frenzy in a small town in Kerala (Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu), The other two Indian films present divergent takes on Mumbai: Gitanjali Rao’s animated feature Bombay Rose and Geetu Mohandas’ gritty yet life-affirming drama Moothon (The Elder One).
It is a strong year in TIFF for Indian female directors. Three of the titles in this quartet have been directed by women. That apart, Priyanka Chopra, who toplines the cast of The Sky is Pink, is one of the four Indian ambassadors of TIFF’s ‘Share Her Journey’ campaign, which is aimed at promoting gender parity in the movie industry both in front of and behind the camera. The other three are filmmakers Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta and Rima Das. Das’s last two films (Village Rockstars and Bulbul Can Sing) premiered in TIFF. She will be attending the festival this year too, to take part in the campaign launched in 2017, the year she debuted here.
THE SKY IS PINK by Shonali Bose
Cast: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Farhan Akhtar, Zaira Wasim, Rohit Saraf Producer(s): Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapur
Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink, which also features Farhan Akhtar and Zaira Wasim in stellar roles, is part of the festival’s Gala Presentations. Bose is a TIFF veteran. Each of the three films that she has helmed has screened in North America’s premier festival.The Sky is Pink is scheduled for release on October 11, a month after its world premiere in TIFF on September 13.
The poignant film portrays 25 years in the life of a married couple whose relationship is depicted from the perspective of their just-deceased teenage daughter. It is inspired by the tragic true story of Aisha Chaudhary, who was diagnosed with severe immune-deficiency and had to battle through every day of her life for survival. But even as she counted her days, she never stopped living in the moment. She became a motivational speaker and wrote a book that was published a day before her death.
Bose’s first two films, Amu (2005) and Margarita with a Straw (2015), both critically acclaimed cinematic essays drawn from real life, also played in Toronto.
India | 2019 | Hindi WORLD PREMIERE 134 minutes
Director | Shonali Bose
Cinematography | Kartik Vijay, Nick Cooke, Andrew Litt, Andre Menezes, Ravi Varman
Editing | Manas Mittal
Executive Producers | Nilesh Maniyar, Deepak Gawade, John Penotti, Michael Hogan, Robert Friedland
Production Companies | Roy Kapur Films, RSVP, Ivanhoe Pictures, Purple Pebble Pictures
At the other end of the India’s TIFF spectrum this year is Gitanjali Rao, a globally celebrated animation filmmaker who has carved her own niche in a nation where animated films are not only rare but are also usually seen as entertainment meant only for children. She employs the medium to tell complex, layered stories about her city and its people, especially those who need to retreat into dream worlds to escape the soul-destroying urban grind that they must inevitably undergo on a day-to-day basis.
Rao’s first feature, Bombay Rose, which has made TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema cut, arrives in Toronto from Venice, where it was the opening film of the Critics Week. The film looks at street-dwellers who live on the margins of the megapolis. “I have always wanted to tell stories,” Rao says in her director’s note, “about the unsung heroes who live and love in Mumbai, never become success stories, yet their struggle for survival makes heroes out of them.” Bombay Rose is composed of frame-by-frame painted animation, a painstaking process that took all of two years.
Bombay Rose is only the second Indian animation film to screen in TIFF. In 2103, Shilpa Ranade’s Goopy Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya made it to the festival programme.
India, United Kingdom, Qatar, France, 2019 | Hindi NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE 93 minutes
Production Companies | Cinestaan Film Company, Les Films d’Ici
Animation Studio | Paperboat
Production Designer | Rupali Gatti
Screenplay | Gitanjali Rao
Sound | P.M. Satheesh
MOOTHON by Geetu Mohandas
Cast: Nivin Pauly, Sobhita Dhulipala, Shashank Arora Producer(s): Anurag Kashyap, Vinod Kumar, Ajay G. Rai, Alan McAlex
Mumbai also plays a key role in actress-turned-filmmaker Geetu Mohandas’ Malayalam-Hindi bilingual film, Moothon (The Elder One), which revolves around a 14-year-old Lakshadweep island boy, Mulla, who travels at great personal risk to the bustling city to look for his big brother, Akbar, armed only with a phone number. The film follows the parallel arcs of the two siblings while it focuses on the hope and despair that they have to grapple with in a city where life can be rough when the guards are down.
Although Mohandas is a TIFF first-timer, her maiden feature, Liar’s Dice (2013), had premiered in the Sundance Film Festival and was India’s official nomination for the Oscars.
Moothon, which has Nivin Pauly, Sobhita Dhulipala and Shashank Arora in key onscreen roles, is co-produced by Anurag Kashyap, who has also penned the Hindi dialogues of the film. For Kashyap, TIFF is a bit of an annual ritual. His last two films, Mukkabaaz and Manmarziyaan, were both in the festival.
India | 2019 Malayalam, Hindi WORLD PREMIERE 110 minutes
Director | Geetu Mohandas
Cinematography | Rajeev Ravi
Editing | Ajithkumar B., Kiran Das
Production Companies | JAR Pictures, Mini Studio
Production Designer | Abid T. P.
Screenplay | Geetu Mohandas
Sound | Kunal Sharma
Original Score | Sagar Desai
JALLIKATTU by Lijo Jose Pellissery
Cast: Antony Varghese, Vinayakan, Sabumon Abdusamad Producer(s): O. Thomas Panicker
Lijo Jose Pellissery, one of the most exciting flag-bearers of the new Malayalam cinema, is in this year’s lineup with Jallikattu, based on a short story, Maoist, written by S. Hareesh. The maker of Angamaly Diaries and Ee.Ma.Yau focusses on a butcher’s buffalo that flees from his owner’s clutches on the eve of its planned slaughter. As the people of the town in Kerala’s Idukki district set out to recapture the animal, dormant animosities bubble to the surface and unleash unsettling violence. Like his previous two film, Lijo’s new outing blends heady energy with an unwavering sense of formal cinematic proportion.
Jallikattu – the title is derived from the ancient Tamil bull-running tradition that has sparked much debate in recent times – allows for a deep dive into the heart of a politically volatile state that, pretty much like the people in the story that the film narrates – are increasingly being divided along destructively emotive lines.
Shonali Bose’ The Sky is Pink, Gettu Mohandas’s Moothon (The Elder One), Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu and Gitanjali Rao’s Bombay Rose will be premiered at the 44th Toronto Internaitonal Film Festival beginning September 5. Toronto is the only international festival which has picked maximum number of Indian films in the official selections.
At TIFF, the Indian spotlight this year will be on well-known directors — Shonali Bose, Geetu Mohandas, Gitanjali Rao, Lijo Jose Pellissery — sprearheading the new wave of Indian cinema in the global markets.
A bold new voice in Malayalam cinema, Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu presents a portrait of a remote village in his hometown where a buffalo escapes and causes a frenzy of ecstatic violence.
Indian writer-director Geetu Mohandas presents an unsparing yet inspiring vision of Mumbai through the story of two small-town siblings, each with their own reason for escaping to the big city, in this urgent drama pondering gender, sexuality, violence, and tolerance. Moothon is jointly produced by Anurag Kashyap.
Animated feature film Bombay Rose written, designed, and directed by Gitanjali Rao follows multiple characters, each connected by a single red rose, as they navigate life and love in the sprawling Indian metropolis. Her debut film Bombay Rose is the story of a flower seller who has to make the choice between protecting her family or allowing herself to fall in love. This touching story is set on the streets of Mumbai and moves from real life to fantasy, accompanied by much-loved Bollywood songs from the cinema halls. Painted frame by frame, for which Gitanjali is famed, Bombay Rose is a chronicle of the people who migrate from small towns, seeking minimal life in the maximum city.
The Sky is Pink is directed by Shonali Bose and is based on the story of motivatioal speaker Aisha Chaudhary who had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.
“What I love about India is that, it is the world’s most film passionate country in the world. You can talk to anyone in this country and everyone has got an opinion about films. This is not the case anywhere in the world. This is the cultural norm,” stated Cameron Bailiey, Co-Head of Toronto International Film Festival to Pickle during his Mumbai trip last year. Single handedly, Cameron Bailey has managed to get over 50 Indian filmmakers to showcase their work in global markets after screening their films in Toronto.
Shonali Bose’s Margarita With A Straw was selected in Toronto in 2014. The film Margarita With A Straw was a bittersweet drama about a woman with cerebral palsy. Shonali Bose has ploughed a lonely furrow as a filmmaker. Her debut feature, Amu, released in 2005, homed in on individuals affected by the 1984 anti-Sikhriots. She co-wrote Bedabrata Pain’s critically acclaimed Chittagong (2012), a dramatization of a significant chapter in India’s freedom struggle. For Margarita With A Straw, Bose cast Kalki Koechlin in a role that called for absolute commitment of time and energy. For both the director and the lead actress, the film has been unqualified artistic triumph. Her National Award winning film Amu was also screened at Toronto.
A successful Malayalam actress and director, Geetu Mohandas is best known across India for the independently funded Liar’s Dice, which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. The title, which also went to the International Film Festival Rotterdam, was India’s Official Entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 87th Academy Awards in 2014.
Director Lijo Jose Pellissery, whose fifth and sixth films (Angamaly Diaries, 2017 and Ee Ma Yau, 2018) have catapulted him into national prominence, is easily one of the most exciting filmmakers to have emerged in India in the course of the current decade. His films have a distinct style and pace and are underpinned by a keen sense of time and place. He is the latest discovery from India in the global film festival circuit.
Gitanjali Rao’s four independently produced animated shorts, Blue, Orange, Printed Rainbow, Chai and TrueLoveStory have been to over 150 International film festivals and received more than 30 awards.