Plenty in Store in 2020

admin   February 22, 2020

IFFI is thrilled that Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean film Parasite, which had its India Premiere at IFFI Goa 2019, won multiple Oscars for Best Picture, screenplay and director. Now, IFFI is scouting for films from masters of the craft at Berlinale

The preparations for 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) have begun in full swing. IFFI’s Golden Jubilee edition will be remembered for a long time for a string of things- from honouring film industry legends Rajinikanth to Amitabh Bachchan and high profile International Jury for Competition Films.

The India delegation at the ongoing 70th Berlin International Film festival is led by Ms. TCA Kalyani, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and other senior members. Chaitanya Prasad, IFFI festival director is also at Berlinale 2020 to find films, collaborate with festival heads and extend invitation to filmmakers and industry professionals to attend IFFI

IFFI 2020 is being planned as exciting as that of the Golden Jubilee Edition. It will be as wide-ranging and bigger as its last year edition. IFFI 2020 will celebrate 100 years of India’s legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray. The 9-day cinematic feast will embrace the works of a wide variety of filmmakers across the world with masterclasses, knowledge series and Film Bazaar.

IFFI is thrilled that Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean film Parasite which had its India Premiere at IFFI Goa 2019 won multiple Oscars for Best Picture, screenplay, director.

At Berlinale, IFFI is meeting up with film executives, sales agents, festival heads to collaborate and looking at curating another edition of fabulous films from across the globe. IFFI will also have knowledge sessions, master classes and open forum besides festival films. Asia’s oldest event of its kind, IFFI still holds on to its preeminent position as a showcase of cinematic excellence. It has over the years witnessed numerous alterations in character, nomenclature, location, dates and duration. Through it all, it has remained steadfast in its emphasis on showcasing the diversity of Indian cinema as well as in its commitment to the celebration of excellence across moviemaking genres.

Over the past two and a half decades, several other international film festivals have sprung up across India, notably in Kolkata, Kerala and Mumbai, and they all contribute meaningfully to the collective task of taking quality cinema to people weaned principally on a staple diet of star-driven, song and dance extravaganzas. But IFFI continues to retain its preeminent position owing to its size, scope and vintage.

Not just in the Indian context but also in relation to the other major Asian film festivals, IFFI matters. And this is despite all the inevitable ups and downs that it has seen over the years.

All the other major Asian festivals – Tokyo, Busan and Shanghai – are of far more recent origin and therefore lack the history that is associated with IFFI. IFFI hands out prize money to the tune of US$ 200,000. The winner of the Golden Peacock for the best film takes home $80,000. That apart, the best director and the Special Jury Prize winner bag $30,000 each, while the two acting prizes come with a cash component of $20,000 each.

IFFI also confers two Lifetime Achievement Awards – one to an international film personality, the other to an Indian great. The moves to push IFFI up a few notches have unfolded since the coastal state of Goa became its permanent venue in 2004. IFFI now has a far more settled feel than ever before, with each improvement in terms of infrastructure and programming initiatives adding value to both the event and the location.

On the programming side, IFFI not only unveils the best films from around the multilingual country with the aim of providing a glimpse of the sheer range and dynamism of Indian cinema, it also puts together a remarkable slate of brand new world cinema titles.

IFFI also hosts many retrospectives, tributes, master classes and special sections, which enhance the variety and depth of the event. The master classes have emerged as a highlight of the festival, especially for film school students who converge in Goa during the ten-day event.

India’s first international film festival was organized within five years of the nation attaining Independence. It was a non-competitive event held in 1952 in Bombay (Now Mumbai). A special feature of the inaugural function was the screening of the first film screened in India in 1896 by the Lumiere brothers. Frank Capra was part of the American delegation that attended the festival.

Six decades on, IFFI continues to provide a useful platform to young Indian filmmakers who work outside the mainstream distribution and exhibition system and in languages that do not have access to the pan-Indian market that Hindi cinema has.

The Indian Panorama, a section that is made up of both features and nonfeatures, opens global avenues for films made by veterans and newcomers alike.

IFFI now has a permanent home in Goa. The coastal state has benefitted appreciably from the shift. Its cinema has received a huge fillip in the decade and a half that Panaji has hosted IFFI. Filmmakers in the coastal state have been increasingly making their mark on the national and international stage.


Lost Time Fragments my Area of Work

admin   February 20, 2020

Mesmerised by the past, noted Indian Director and Screenwriter Mukul Haloi loves to dig like an archaeologist to uncover all the little fragments of time, one layer after another, and then reimagining them as a whole Interview with Mukul Haloi

Looking forward to meeting and collaborating with composers, sound designers, script mentors and co-producers, noted Director and Screenwriter Mukul Haloi has high hopes from Berlinale 2020, which he is attending as one of the Berlinale Talents from India. Haloi after a number of successful short and experimental films such as ‘Loralir Sadhukath’, for which he was given the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award, talks about his first feature-length fictional debut and his other future plans in a candid conversation with Pickle Congrats you are part of Berlinale Talents 2020.

What is your objective and what do you aim to achieve at Berlinale this year?

Thank you. I am very much looking forward to attend the event and communicate with other talents from around the world, to discuss and innovate on new thoughts and understandings about contemporary films. I am particularly looking at meeting people who are interested in Asian films, more specifically from South Asia. As I have been developing a film, I want to make use of this platform to collaborate with technicians such as composers and sound designers and also expecting to meet script mentors and co-producers.

What are the current projects that you are working on?

I’m developing my debut feature film. It’s in the research and development stage. The film is going to be in my mother tongue Assamese. It is based upon a popular Assamese folk story. Apart from this, I’m gearing up for a short film which I expect to shoot by this summer. Also, post-production of my second docu-feature is going on.

Any surprise at ‘Parasite’ winning script and screenplay in Oscars? Also, a non-English film has been bagging Best Picture award.

Looking at the trends over the years, I think it is not very surprising that ‘Parasite’ has globally made an impact and found an acceptance among moviegoers all over the world.

Is being an academic helps you as director and scriptwriter?

I’m not so much into academics, but I teach film in independent workshops and also write about them. It helps me to constantly question my own practices and further deepen my understanding of films. Directing films is not just a craft, but also a responsibility to do justice to your own thoughts and ideology. So, I feel that writing, teaching or reading keeps me in a conflicted territory of thoughts, which help me to create something.

There has been a phenomenal change in the popular Indian cinema with content-based films working well and commercial hits falling in numbers? What are your thoughts?

It’s a good sign. We as viewers have been exposed to so many film cultures of the world that now we can identify and choose our own subjects. Maybe, that’s why cinema with strong content or subjects is getting acceptance. Also, regionally there are so many good films getting produced. Specially, I am very much intrigued about the films coming out of Kerala, which are fresh, powerful and commercially viable too.

Personal remembrance seems to be your forte in your works.

The past mesmerizes me. Remembering it is an archaeological process—digging one layer after another; finding bits and pieces of markers to a time; accumulating them and then making a whole to imagine the time we have lost in fragments. Those fragments are my area of work.

There is so much of talent coming out from north East? Do you see visible change on ground?

We can see viewers’ acceptance of new experiments and mode of thinking,
though not so significant. In the last five years, there have been many films made by new filmmakers and they all are thematically and aesthetically and linguistically/ ethnically varied. To talk specifically about Assam, some films carry the neorealist practice of Jahnu Barua, but in a refurbished way. ‘Village Rockstars’ by Rima Das is one of such films. There have been another set of films which reflect on the insurgency-torn time of Assam. Jaicheng Dohoutia’s ‘Handuk’, Reema Borah’s ‘Bokul’ are prominent ones in this thematic classification. There has also been a resurgence of films in different languages. Rabha, Mishing, Bodo, Moran, Karbi—all these languages are now getting a place in films.

Few more film-makers who are creating new modes of expression are Bhaskar Hazarika, Deep Chowdhury, Kenny Basumatary, etc. Who has been your major influence in filmmaking?

There have been many. But among filmmakers — Yasujiro Ozu, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Hao Hsiao hsien are three names that stand out.

Finally, what are the goals you have set yourself in this decade?

I haven’t planned it for so long… But I want to make as many films as possible. One film every year would be great if possible. Also, I have been thinking over setting up something to inculcate film awareness and education in school children in Assam, which I will begin soon starting with my own village. Also, I am planning to publish my first collection of essays in Assamese by this year.


Chandrakant Singh is Looking for a Coproduction Partner at Berlinale

admin   February 20, 2020

Film Producer Chandrakant Singh is at European Film Market to do co-production deals for international films. He shares his views ranging from changing cinema business in India to how films with local stories and heavy on content are taking on the gradually fading stardom in Bollywood Interview with Chandrakant singh

Rajasthan-born Director and Producer Chandrakant Singh is at Berlinale and European Film Market 2020 to do co-production deals for international films. His Indo-US coproduction feature film ‘Lost in Goa’, which is being made in collaboration with US-based producer Peter Ziebert, is set to be entirely shot in India with Indian and international actors. The soft-spoken Director- Producer of web-series Fashion Street and commercial Bollywood film ‘Kya Masti Kya Dhoom’, sees Berlinale as an apt platform where he can meet experts and collaborators to learn and create a bigger market.

What are your main objectives of visiting the Berlinale and European Film Market 2020?

The basic objective is to look for co-production deals wherein we combine the creative energies to make international films. Berlinale has been at the forefront of progressive cinema and it gives us immense exposure to bid in the European market.

What do you look forward to in the year 2020? Also, what’s your long-term vision of this decade?

This decade will witness several changes in cinema business. The shift from cinema screens to digital consumption is something which will rule the coming decade. The streaming giants will see more glorious days as there is enough optimism on cross cultural stories.

What are the current projects you are working on? Tell us about the Co-Production partners you are looking for the new project?

I am currently working on an Indo- US coproduction English feature film ‘Lost in Goa’, which will be entirely shot in India with Indian and international actors. This project is in collaboration with US-based producer Peter Ziebert. At present, I am looking for more deals, wherein we work on international subjects and create a bigger market.

You have been visiting many markets across the world in recent times? But it will be your first time at Berlinale and European Film Market. What is the most important thing you want to achieve at EFM?

I have been doing rounds of several international film festivals, which helped me produce and direct films like ‘SIX X’. I am always open to learn. Learning is the essence of a good filmmaker. Having developed enough sense of international collaborations, I want to now channelize my energy in developing my international ventures and Berlinale can provide me a good platform to sign some good co-production deals to take my projects forward.

Film ‘Parasite’ has won the Best Picture at Oscars? How do you see this change?

‘Parasite’ winning at Oscars is one of the best news for cinema in recent times. It is the first movie in a language other than English to take home the Oscar for Best picture in the award show’s 92-year-old history. Thus, it has opened the doors for filmmakers like us to tell stories which are rooted and have cultural echoes.

What are your thoughts on OTT and streaming? How do you see it impacting India?

The impact of streaming is going to be huge in India, given the rise in access to internet and smart phones in the country. I think this is a welcome change as it opens new doors for creativity. I believe that the bigger the platform is, the better the scope for creative people like me.

What are the major trends driving the Indian film industry today? The mass market seems to be dying and big heroes like Shah Rukh Khan are not anymore successful. Only content-driven cinema has been working for the last two years or so?

Yes, I agree that the stardom in Indian cinema is gradually fading. Films with local stories and heavy on content are working nowadays in India, which is an excellent thing. With a new breed of producers coming up, more innovative ideas and courageous stories can be seen. It’s a great time
to be in Indian film industry. We are enjoying this paradigm shift.


We Begin our year with Berlinale

admin   February 20, 2020

With localization business seeing an exponential growth owing to the rise of OTT platforms, VR Films and Studios Limited sees a huge potential in the
European market to cater fresh content to the Indian and SAARC markets that can be dubbed in local languages, say Manish Dutt and Krishi Dutt, Directors, VR Films and Studios Limited

What is your objective at Berlinale 2020 and European Film Market?

At Berlinale, we will catch up on European cinema and will look forward to the acquisition of content driven features for India. We are in talks with some European players for collaboration on film production and at this Berlinale will meet them to take it forward. We also look forward to connecting with people for our localization business, and in this way, we bring the world closer back home.

Berlinale is celebrating 70 years this year and you have been a regular at Berlin for over a decade now. How has Berlinale influenced or impacted you?

Berlinale for us has always been very important and is always the first festival and market with which we begin our year. We have been regularly coming here for the last 10 years. Berlinale provides a fabulous platform to European Cinema where one gets to see the very best from Baltic, Scandinavia, East Europe, Central Europe, West Europe, the UK, and many more countries. It is always a pleasure to come here and meet our film fraternity friends from the world over. Also, it’s such a delight to see India being prominently represented for the last two years, creating business opportunities with the best international film houses.

Film ‘Parasite’ has won the Best Picture at oscars? How do you see this change? You have been working very closely with south Korea’s CJ Entertainment?

CJ Entertainment has been a good friend of ours. We have acquired many Korean titles from them for the Indian Sub-Continent. ‘Yoonhee’, ‘Eunji’, and ‘Namyoung’ need a special mention as they have been very kind, accommodating and have always worked hard to get Korean Cinema to our part of the world. ‘Parasite’ is a fantastic film with a beautiful screenplay, very good direction and performances. There is not a single moment in the film which forces you to drift away. It keeps you spellbound irrespective of the fact that you may not understand the language; it transcends all such boundaries. No wonder the film swept all the major awards including the Palme D’or, Golden Globe and now Oscars. In the last Cannes Film Festival, CJ Entertainment was very keen on us acquiring ‘Parasite’ for the Indian Sub-Continent. But since our plate was already full, we let it pass. I guess one loses some and wins some, but nevertheless we are very happy for all of them and more happy to see them all make lots of money. Content is surely the king at the box-office.

All along, VR Films has been working to bring European cinema to India. With localization in full swing because of streaming is there any action now on this front?

Yes indeed. We have been working in this space for the last four years-meeting production houses and agents from all over Europe with the hope that one day the doors for such brilliant cinema would open in India. Thanks to the surge in OTT platforms that such cinema is now having viewers in India. The younger generation is keen on watching such Cinema and this brings lots of opportunities for our other business — localization — as Indians like to hear and watch movies rather than read (subtitles) and watch them. We have more than 65 dubbing studios across India, and we are working around the clock dubbing foreign content for OTT and TV in Hindi and other Indian regional languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Urdu, neutral English, among others. Currently, we clock around 400 hours of dubbing per month and the demand is still growing. Hollywood films too are getting localized in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu and we continue to do a lot of work for major Hollywood film studios.

This january, we became a member of Netflix’s NP3 (post partner program), which is a huge achievement as it gives us the opportunity to dub their content in Indian languages…

Which projects are you working on? What are your goals for 2020?

We started 2020 with the Theatrical Release of “The Courier” starring Gary Oldman and Olga Kurylenko.

We look forward to Russell Crowe starrer ‘Unhinged’ that we have acquired to distribute in the Indian Sub-Continent. It will have a wide theatrical release in Q3 this year in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and English. ‘Jolt’ is another exciting title starring Kate Beckinsale which will release in Q3/Q4 this year. We also have a horror title from the UK, ‘The Power’, that is slated for release in 2020… So it’s packed 2020 for us. Apart from these three films, we have many other titles that are in production and will have 2021 release. For our localization business, we are setting up more studios as this business is growing with every passing day. We intend to get into the production of content too for which we are in talks with many players.

We started our relationship with Amazon Prime Video and put some of our Titles on their platform and they are performing well.


Featured Post

The OSCAR RACE begins HERE…

admin   August 30, 2019

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 season?

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.

The Report, Harriet, The Personal History of David Copperfield, Harriet, Jojo Rabbit

Another 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.

In 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 Rhys).

The 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.

Todd 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 Picture nomination.

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.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Joker, Bad Education, Parasite

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).

Steven 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.

The 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 Laundromat, Pain and Glory, Marriage Story, Radioactive

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.