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Shaunak Sen’s Doc Wins Big At Sundance

admin   January 30, 2022

Video artist and Delhi-based filmmaker Shanuak Sen was awarded the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for his documentary film All That Breathes at the just concluded Sundance Film Festival.

The film is set against the darkening backdrop of Delhi’s apocalyptic air and escalating violence, two brothers devote their lives to protect one casualty of the turbulent times: the bird known as the Black Kite.

The India-UK Co-Production film (Producers: Aman Mann, Teddy Leifer) received support from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and a development grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund in 2019.

This is for the first time an Indian filmmakers has won the top prize at the World Cinema Documentary Competition Sundance Film Festival.

The Grand Jury Prizes went to Nikyatu Jusu‘s feature directorial debut “Nanny,” for the coveted U.S. Dramatic title, along with Christine Choy’s “The Exiles” for U.S. Documentary, Shaunak Sen’s “All That Breathes” for World Cinema Documentary, and Alejando Loayza Grisi’s “Utama” for World Cinema Dramatic.

The Audience Awards were earned by U.S. documentary “Navalny” and Cooper Raiff’s “Cha Cha Real Smooth” for U.S. Dramatic. “Navalny” also won the Festival Favorite Award.

Sundance Film Festival 2022 Juror Emilie Bujès said: “This poetic film delivers an urgent political story while constructing a singular and loving portrait of protagonists resisting seemingly inevitable ecological disaster – with humorous touches punctuated by unsentimental depiction of the animal kingdom. For maintaining its suspenseful tension when portraying the interior struggles of its characters and the contradictions in spirituality and materialism they confront, we present the [World Cinema] Grand Jury Prize to All That Breathes.”

“This year’s entire program has proven that no matter the context, independent storytelling remains a pivotal tool in expanding critical dialogues, and these stories will and must be shared,” Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente said at the virtual introducing the awards ceremony.

Sundance Festival Director Tabitha Jackson said: “This year’s festival expressed a powerful convergence; we were present, together, as a community connected through the work. And it is work that has already changed those who experienced it.”

Filmmaker Shanuank (younger brother of National Award Filmmaker Raja Sen) is a video artist and film scholar based in Delhi. Cities of Sheep (2016), his first feature length documentary, was shown at various major international film festivals (European premiere at DOK Leipzig) and won six international documentary awards.

Shaunak also received the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s Films Division of India Fellowship (2013), theSaraiCSDS Digital Media fellowship (2014), Pro Helvetia residency, Switzerland (2016), the Charles Wallace Grant, as visiting scholar at Cambridge University (2018), the IDFA Bertha Fund (2019), the Sundance Documentary Grant (2019) and the Catapult Film Fund (2020).


Kulasekharapattinam – A Spectacle for the Gods

admin   March 1, 2021

Kulasekharapattinam – A Spectacle for the Gods (Documentary)

Looking for Global sales,  Buyers, Film Festivals

Status: Completed
Producer: Navin Daswani (Super Audio Madras Pvt Ltd)
Director: Gopinath Krishnamoorthy
Writer: Vamanan
Music Director: R.K. Sundar
Email: indiancontcomp@gmail.com
Sales Contact: +91 9080113754
Website: www.musicandchants.com

The festival of Dussehra is celebrated all over India as the triumph of Durga/Kali over dark forces in the form of the buffalo-headed Mahishasura. But in Kulasekharapattinam, a nondescript village in the southern part of the district of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, the celebrations are most remarkable. The Kulasai festival is a grassroots event marked by piety and pious commitment to the deity Mutharamman who presides over the temple at the heart of the celebration. The popularity of the festival can be seen by the record crowds of devotees that come to the seashore temple. Kali, in the form of Mutharamman kills Mahishasura, who gets transformed into the lion that she rides. Those who take a vow to appease the deity deck themselves in the likeness of Gods and Goddesses like Kali, Durga, Shiva or Krishna or even as gypsies, bears or beggars! It all depends on the vow they take. This feature gives a new dimension to the Kulasai festival: while the devotees pledge their devotion to their deity and divinity walks in their midst.


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MovieSaints to release Memories of a Forgotten War

admin   August 30, 2020

Made over a period of three years, the Memories of a Forgotten War by Utpal Borpujari features interviews of a number of veterans from the British Indian Army and the Japanese Army who fought each other in the treacherous terrain on Manipur and Nagaland at great human and emotional cost

 “Memories of a Forgotten War”, a feature-length documentary on the Extreme valour, sacrifice and sufferings of thousands of soldiers and local people in the Northeast Indian theatre of World War II, will stream via online platform MovieSaints from September 2, coinciding with the day the War ended 75 years ago.

Produced by well known cyber security expert Subimal Bhattacharjee under the banner of Jookto and directed by National Award-winning filmmaker Utpal Borpujari, the film was part of the Indian Panorama at the 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in 2016 and had a special screening at the 15th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) in 2018.

Made over a period of three years, the film was shot extensively by an international crew in remote battle locations in Manipur and Nagaland, as well as in locations in the UK and Japan in addition to Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and New Delhi.

It features interviews of a number of veterans from the British Indian Army and the Japanese Army who fought each other in the treacherous terrain on Manipur and Nagaland at great human and emotional cost.

The film has some rare footage – such as never-seen-before visuals from inside the Renkoji Temple in Tokyo, which houses the urn containing the purported ashes of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In fact, this is the first instance of any video being allowed inside the temple. The only office of Netaji-led Indian National Army (INA) on Indian soil, located at Moirang near Imphal, also features prominently in the film. Another highlight is the special footage of recovery of the wreckage of a lost 2nd World War plane by an expedition of the US Army in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh.

The film can be viewed via this link on pay-per-view basis: (http://moviesaints.com/movie/memories-of-a-forgotten-war).

“We are really happy that this important film is reaching the audiences via Moviesaints, which is promoting quality cinema with a special eye on cinema from Northeast India. Our film is an important part of the history of Northeastern India that needed to be looked at from humanistic point of view before it faded away,” says producer Bhattacharjee, who had grew up Assam’s famous hill station Haflong.

“As someone hailing from the region, I feel strongly about bringing out positive narratives from Northeastern India that is often in the news for the wrong reasons, and this film is part of that endeavour,” he says.

“Until the National War Museum of Britain declared a few years ago that the Battle of Kohima was the most important battle fought by the Allied Army during the World War II, ahead of even the Normandy landing and many other such much better-known battles, the battles of Manipur and Nagaland hardly attracted any attention. We have tried to bring out some of the memories of those battles by retelling the tales of valour of the young soldiers and of the local peoples who participated in or witnessed those battles,” says Borpujari, who won the National Award for his debut feature “Ishu” (Assamese) in 2018.

“The documentary has tried to record for posterity some of the many stories of bravery and valour in a factual and emotionally-connective way. It’s a film that deals with the subject not as a military one but as one that impacted the lives of many individuals in many ways,” he says.

Commenting on the “War & Dehumanization” package which also comprises SupriyoSen’s “Way Back Home” and “Hope Dies Last in War” and MarttiHelde’s Estonian film “In the Crosswinds (Risttuules)”, MovieSaints Chief operating officer Anupama Bose says, “Memories of a Forgotten War is the reason the series was born for us! It probably narrates one of the most bone chilling war anecdotes ever in its telling of the Battle of Kohima..and of how dehumanizing the process of war can be!

“That a War Veteran from the winning side tells us of picking out the human debris of his own colleagues from his bedding to be able to sleep in it as a first person account makes it even more potent! We are proud to have curated this as a part of the series because nothing can be more tragic than being pitted against your own countrymen in war. And therein lies the realization – that it is equally cannibalistic when nations fight nations, humans fight humans, governments & leaders fight those who have elected them to power. “

Utpal Borpujari & Subimal Bhattacharjee

Crew

Producer: SubimalBhattacharjee

Director: Utpal Borpujari

Executive Producer: JoyeetaBhattacharjee

Research: Lt Gen (Retd) H K Singh, SobhapatiSamom, Utpal Borpujari, AtanuPhukan

Script: Samudra Gupta Kashyap, Utpal Borpujari

Project Coordinator: SandeepKrishan Vats

Original Background Score: Anurag Saikia

Editor: Parveen Sharma

Cinematography: MapuiaChongthu (Mizoram)
                                IromMaipak (Manipur)
                                Leon Lazarevic (UK)
                                Paul Leeming (Japan)
                                Chida Bora (Nagaland)
Location Sound: ChtaPachuau (Mizoram)
                                LaishramDevakumar Meitei (Manipur)
                                SeelanVelupillai (UK)
                                Giles Khan (Japan)
                                ManjitNath (Nagaland)
Sound Mixing: BhaskarSarma


Venice will open with two Italian films

admin   July 28, 2020

Molecole, a documentary film by Andrew Segre will be the festival’s pre-opening film on September 1 and ‘Lacci’ by Daniele Luchetti will be its opening film on September 2

For the first time in 11 years, the Venice International Film Festival will open with two Italian films. The festival has announced that the pre-opening film for its 77th year will be Molecole, a documentary by Italian director Andrew Segre. The film, which was made in Venice during the coronavirus lockdown, will be screened on Tuesday, September 1. The Venice International Film Festival is organised by La Biennale di Venezia

The festival’s opening film for 2020 will be Lacci (The Ties) by Rome-born director Daniele Luchetti. Lacci will be screened Wednesday September 2nd, in the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido di Venezia, on the opening night of the 77th Venice Film Festival. Produced by IBC Movie with Rai Cinema, Lacci was written by Domenico Starnone, Francesco Piccolo and Daniele Luchetti

LACCI (The Ties)

“Recently, we have all feared that cinema might become extinct,” says Daniele Luchetti. “Yet during the quarantine it gave us comfort, like a light gleaming in a cavern. Today we have understood something else: that films, television series, novels, are indispensable in our lives. Long live festivals, then, which allow us to come together to celebrate the true meaning of our work. If anyone thought it served no purpose, they now know it is important to everyone. With Lacci I am honoured to open the dances of the first great festival in unexpected times”.

“It’s been eleven years since the Venice International Film Festival was opened by an Italian film.” says Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera. “This happy opportunity was offered by the wonderful film directed by Daniele Luchetti, an anatomy of a married couple’s problematic coexistence, as they struggle with infidelity, emotional blackmail, suffering and guilt, with an added mystery that is not revealed until the end. Supported by an outstanding cast, the film is also a sign of the promising phase in Italian cinema today, continuing the positive trend seen in recent years, which the quality of the films invited to Venice this year will surely confirm”.

Naples, early 1980s: the marriage between Aldo and Vanda begins to break down when Aldo falls in love with young Lidia. Thirty years later, Aldo and Vanda are still married. A mystery about feelings, a story of loyalty and faithlessness, of resentment and shame. Betrayal, pain, a secret box, a home laid waste, a cat, the voice of people in love and that of people out of love. From the novel by Domenico Starnone, one of the New York Times’ 100 notable books of 2017, this is the new film by Daniele Luchetti.

Molecole

The new film by Venetian director Andrea Segre (Io sono Li, La prima neve, Il pianeta in mare), the documentary Molecole (70’), made in Venice when it was locked down for the coronavirus, will be screened on the Pre-opening night, Tuesday September 1st, of the 77th Venice International Film Festival of the La Biennale di Venezia, in the Sala Darsena theatre (Palazzo del Cinema) at the Lido.

Between February and April 2020, while preparing two projects, one for the theatre and one for film, director Andrea Segre was held up in Venice by the spread of the coronavirus and the consequent national quarantine measures. Many of his projects have been and are based in Venice, his father’s city, a complex city from many points of view. This pandemic “froze” and emptied out the city, restoring it to nature and to its history, and – at a personal level – to the family memories of the director, who used that time to gather visual notes and stories in the documentary Molecole. The film brings to the surface his bond with his Venetian father, a scientist, chemist and physicist and the real protagonist of the film, who passed away ten years ago. The isolation of the city merges with the more personal, intimate isolation of the director, who wrote the original screenplay. The film will be released in theatres starting September 3rd 2020.

“To make a film you have to conceive it, write it, organize it and film it. None of this happened for MOLECOLE. I didn’t even realize I was making it. It was an experience for me and the film came out by itself, in a timeframe and dimension I could not have anticipated. MOLECOLE just spurted out. Like water. To present it as the pre-opening film of the Venice Film Festival is a great honour for me, the best way to thank the city that gave birth to it.”

VIRTUAL VENINCE GAP FINANCING MARKET

The Venice Production Bridge, the festival’s informal market will take place for the seventh edition of the Venice Gap-Financing Market, which will take place online from September 4th to 6th, 2020, during the 77th Venice International Film Festival (September 2nd – 12th, 2020). The Venice Gap-Financing Market is a platform for selected projects that aims to support European and international producers to secure financing for their projects (Fiction Films, Documentaries and VR Immersive Story Projects) through one-to-one meetings with potential and pertinent international professionals (producers, sales agents, distributors, financiers, broadcasters and funds) 


Pandit Ravi Shankar: The God Father of World Music

admin   June 22, 2020

To mark the centenary year of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and to take his life story to the modern generation, Boxclever Media has been making a documentary. Luke White, Director of Boxclever, appeals for partners to help complete the documentary supported by a British Broadcaster

At Boxclever Media we’re forever searching for the fascinating untold stories of remarkable people all over the world. In the case of Pandit Ravi Shankar, however, we have a man who was already globally renowned for his unparalleled musical talent. He was a true legend of his craft and his life achievements have already been well documented -although not, as we feel, in a format that is accessible to the next generation.

Most of the content that is available online is lengthy archive-based material that feels disconnected from modern-day culture. Through ‘Ravi Shankar: The Godfather of World Music’, it’s our ambition to make sure that Ravi’s story remains relevant, by demonstrating how his music influenced western musicians and his spiritual beliefs, which relate to the power of vibration and the mathematical design of all things within the universe. ‘The highest aim of our music is to reveal the essence of the universe it reflects…Thus, through music, one can reach God’.

This is a project that first took root in 2012, through a chance encounter with British conductor David Murphy, who at the time of meeting was in the midst of co-developing what would prove to be Shankar’s final endeavor- a groundbreaking opera dedicated to his wife Sukanya that fused both East and Western musical styles.

With this documentary we envisage a one-hour presenter-led film that retraces Shankar’s steps from his early childhood, growing up in the ancient city of Banares on the banks of the river Ganges, where his deep love of music and performance began. We follow his journey as he traveled to Europe with his brother Uday’s dance troupe and began to learn the art of showmanship at just eleven.

As the troupe grew more successful over the years, Shankar began to enjoy the luxuries that it provided to him. And so we discover how as a teenager, his focus on music and dance began to waver and he would spend ever more time chasing girls instead! It was fortunate then that Allauddin Khan, one of India’s most eminent musicians of the time should join the troupe. ‘Baba’ as he was known, did not shy away from criticising Shankar, ‘referring to him as a ‘butterfly’ for his fancy clothing and inability to maintain his focus on music.

After the troupe was disbanded, Shankar would later commit himself wholly to the sitar under Baba’s tuition. Now with a shaved head, simple clothes, and a bed of sticks to sleep on, he endured a grueling regime that began at 4 am, and it was not unheard of that might practice for up to sixteen hours in a day. It was this period of relentless devotion to music that enabled Shankar to develop into a legend, whose every improvisation on the sitar became effortless and whose performances have had a profound effect on many millions of people around the world.

‘Perhaps my playing does not cause rain to fall from the skies, but it has made tears fall from the eyes of my listeners’. The documentary is a celebration of Shankar’s life, but also an honest reflection of his character and personal struggles. We will set out to hear from those he met and inspired along the way, including Philip Glass and relatives of John Coltrane and George Harrison. It concludes with a glimpse of Shankar’s final endeavor, the opera ‘Sukayna’ which was sadly incomplete at the time of his death but was premiered at the Royal Opera House in London and is set
to continue touring beyond 2020.

As it stands, the film is in pre-production. Boxclever Media has held discussions with UK broadcasters to raise £80K, half of which has already been committed and the remainder must be sought by additional parties. If you would like to support the project please contact: luke.white@boxclever.media


Robbie Robertson Doc ‘Once Were Brothers’ to Open 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

admin   July 23, 2019

The Toronto International Film Festival has announced the world premiere of Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band will be the opening night gala presentation for the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 5 (Thursday), at Roy Thomson Hall.

TIFF Co-Heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente has announced that Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, Daniel Roher’ s touching tale of Robertson’s young life as the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music, The Band. The premiere marks the first time a Canadian-made documentary to open the Toronto International Film Festival. The first Canadian opening-night film Score: A Hockey Musical was screened in TIFF 2010.

The documentary film, directed by Daniel Roher ( Ghosts of Our Forest), inspired by Robertson’s 2016 memoir, Testimony , tells the moving story of Robertson’s personal journey as he overcame adversity and found camaraderie alongside the four other men who would become his brothers in music, and who together made their mark on music history.

Once Were Brothers : Robbie Robertson and The Band blends rare archival footage, photography, iconic songs, and interviews with many of Robertson’s friends and collaborators, including Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Taj Mahal, Dominique Robertson, and Ronnie Hawkins. The Band was known as Bob Dylan’s back-up band. Their final performance was filmed by Martin Scorsese in 1976 in The Last Waltz. Robertson.

“This is one of Toronto’s great stories of a hometown hero,” said Bailey, Artistic Director & Co-Head of TIFF. “From his early years in this city, to the inspiration he took from life on the Six Nations reserve, to the impact he’s had on generations of music lovers, Robertson emerges in Roher’s film as a truly Canadian-made superstar. In our first year as TIFF’s Co-Heads, Joana and I are thrilled to open the Festival with a Canadian story that speaks to the world.”

“This stirring documentary takes audiences on a musical journey and shows us just what it takes to build one of the most significant groups in rock history,” said Vicente, Executive Director & Co-Head of TIFF. “Robertson is a Canadian music icon, and his moving story of persistence and passion is the perfect way to begin Festival 2019 for both Cameron and me. We’re eager to share the excitement of Opening Night with Toronto’s film lovers, and audiences can expect some very special guests joining us to help celebrate.”

“Robertson’s tale is a remarkable reminder of how vision, ambition, and hard work can empower one’s wildest dreams,” said director Daniel Roher. “Robbie took a chance on me, and I will be forever grateful that he rolled the dice on a kid from Toronto to helm his story. Opening the Toronto International Film Festival is beyond some wildest dreams of my own and I am thankful for everyone who believed in me.”

“I’m so tremendously honoured that the premiere of Once Were Brothers, inspired by my memoir Testimony, will be the opening movie at TIFF this year, in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada,” said Robertson. In a career spanning six decades, Robbie Robertson has continued to create as a songwriter, producer, performer, actor, author, and film composer. His raw talent thrust him into the spotlight and put him at the centre of a cultural revolution, backing Bob Dylan on his notorious 1966 electric world tour and later collaborating with Dylan on the groundbreaking Basement Tapes , then as a member of The Band, inventing the musical hybrid known as Americana with songs like “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek, ” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Of late, Robertson has been working on a new solo album, due this fall.

Made in conjunction with Imagine Documentaries, White Pine Pictures, Bell Media Studios and Universal Music Canada’s Shed Creative, the project is executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Imagine Entertainment Chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Justin Wilkes and Sara Bernstein for Imagine Documentaries; White Pines Pictures’ president Peter Raymont, and COO Steve Ord; Bell Media president, Randy Lennox; Jared Levine; Michael Levine; Universal Music Canada president and CEO Jeffrey Remedios; and Shed Creative’s managing director Dave Harris. The film was produced by Andrew Munger, Stephen Paniccia, Sam Sutherland and Lana Belle Mauro.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band will stream on Crave in Canada later this year.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5–15, 2019.