National Film Development Corporation’s Film Bazaar has created a climate in which young filmmakers can dare to attempt transcending geographical boundaries.
As an incubator of new film projects in India and the rest of the subcontinent, the NFDC Film Bazar Goa, now in its 14th year, has rendered yeoman service by engendering an eco-system that allows originality to thrive while not losing sight of tried and tested ground rules that have proven beneficial. This year Film Bazaar will take place in virtual format.
It isn’t surprising, therefore, that many of the subcontinent’s most applauded and well-travelled contemporary films have taken shape – and wings – on this platform that has made mentoring and networking facilities available to them. Think Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox, Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court, Paobam Paban Kumar’s Loktak Lairembee and Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely and you cannot help but recognise the assistance that these acclaimed Indian films have received at the Film Bazaar where buyers, sellers, festival programmers and producers converge in search of the next lot of support-worthy films.
It isn’t unusual for veteran screenwriters and directors (such as Govind Nihalani and Kamal Swaroop) to turn up in this dynamic marketplace with the intention of exploring co-production possibilities. The Bazaar is numerically dominated by younger filmmakers, a large percentage of them being first-timers.
Film Bazaar Goa is held on the sidelines of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), but it is a hub of activity so intense that it often overshadows the main event. The greatest strength of the Bazaar is the youthful energy that propels it and the range and depth of international participation that the annual event commands. The result is a space where a free exchange of ideas and synergies take place and yields salutary results.
Filmmakers from across the subcontinent have benefitted immensely from the time and energy they have spent in Goa in reaching out to the world and pushing their ideas, films and screenplays. A majority of Indian films that have played in the leading international festivals – The Lunchbox, Miss Lovely, Titli, Chauthi Koot, Thithi, Killa and Ship of Theseus, to name only a few – have participated in Film Bazaar at crucial stages of their development.
Assamese director Bhaskar Hazarika’s Aamis (Ravening) was part of the Film Bazaar’s Co-Production Market in 2017. It returned to the Viewing Room – Film Bazaar Recommends in 2018 and went on to screen in the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019. Geetu Mohandas’ Moothon (The Elder One), which had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September, opened in Indian multiplexes in the second week of November.
The film had started its journey in Film Bazaar’s Co-Production Market in 2016 (the title back then was Insha’allah). Moothon was in the Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab the very next year alongside several other Indian films that got picked by international festivals – Ere Gowda’s Balekempa, Dominic Sangma’s Garo-language Ma’Ama and Ivan Ayr’s Soni.
Geetu Mohandas, an actress-turned-filmmaker also owes the rise of her debut film, Liar’s Dice, to Film Bazaar. The film was in the Co-Production Market in 2011. It premiered in the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival in 2013 before being screened in the Sundance Film Festival and 2014. Liar’s Dice was India’s official nomination that year for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar.
Besides a host of films that have come out of the country’s many filmmaking centres, projects conceived and developed in Mumbai have enjoyed a lion’s share of the spoils in Film Bazaar. The most notable among them is The Lunchbox. After its world premiere in Cannes Critics’ Week in 2013, it travelled to TIFF and Karlovy Vary.
The Lunchbox was distributed in more 50 countries – a record for an independent Indian film. Interestingly, the Film Bazaar has over the past decade and a bit mentored films that have subsequently taken on commercial trappings and gone on a different tangent. Sharat Katariya’s Dum Laga Ke Haisha, starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar, which came to Goa as a work in progress, went mainstream with Yash Raj Films throwing its weight behind the film.
Films such as Shanghai and Nil BatteySannat, among others, have found similar theatrical outlets. In the case of Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, Prakash Jha Productions was involved from the very outset. It was part of Film Bazaar’s WIP Lab in 2015. Completed in 2016 and released in 2017 after a protracted run-in with the censors, the film earned critical accolades and substantial commercial success.
Gitanjali Rao’s animation film Bombay Rose has had the longest gestation of all the titles that have emerged from the Film Bazaar. It was in the Screenwriters’ Lab in 2015, the Co-Production Market in 2016 and the WIP Lab in 2017. In 2019, it premiered at the 76th Venice Film Festival and then travelled to TIFF, Busan International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. It is now scheduled to screen in the Doha Film Institute’s Ajyal Film Festival and Marrakesh International Film Festival.
Not every film that participates in the Film Bazaar soars into the stratosphere. In fact, a chunk of the entries that have been listed on the Viewing Room roster run into dead-ends. But that does not diminish the significance of the exercise. Over the last decade, almost every film that is regarded as fine specimen of Indian indie cinema – among them Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry, Rahi Anil Barve’s Tumbbad, KanuBehl’s Titli, Shanker Raman’s Gurgaon, Pushpendra Singh’s Ashwatthama, Amit V Masurkar’s Newton, Devashish Makhija’s Bhonsle, Dipesh Jain’s In the Shadows and RidhamJanve’s The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain – is a Film Bazaar product. The event helps these filmmakers not only to evolve into outstanding films but also to find a place on the radar of the spotters that are sent out by major festivals.
In a nation that produces more films than any other in the world, Film Bazaar has created a climate in which young filmmakers can dare to attempt transcending geographical boundaries. The Mumbai movie industry in particular is notoriously insular and cannot see beyond box office collections. But filmmakers working outside the pale of the mainstream are compelled to think of the wider world – the Film Bazaar fulfils that needs admirably, helping independent filmmakers engage with the world on an equal footing.
One of the biggest contributions of the Film Bazaar is manifested in the support it has extended to filmmakers from other countries of the subcontinent. Bangladesh’s Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, Rubaiyat Hossain and Golam Rabbany Biplob, Sri Lanka’s Prasanna Vithanage and Prasanna Jayakody, Pakistan’s Mehreen Jabbar and Sabiha Sumar, Nepal’s Deepak Rauniyar, Bhutan’s Khyentse Norbu and Afghanistan’s Siddiq Barmak have been part of the Film Bazaar over the years.
No wonder, for indie filmmakers in this part of the world, all roads lead to Goa come November.
For the first time, three Indian films have been selected at the Venice Film Festival – Chaitanya Tamhane’s Marathi movie The Disciple (Golden Lion Competition Section), Ivan Ayr’s Punjabi film Meel Patthar (Orizzonti Features Competition) and Sushma Khadepaun’s Gujarati flick Anita (Short Films Competition). By Saibal Chatterjee
It has been a terrible year thus far. Pandemic-struck, the entire world has ground to a halt. Filmmaking has been put on hold, cinema halls are shuttered, and festivals have been thrown off gear. But The Disciple has pulled off a miracle. Amid the gloom, Chaitanya Tamhane’s sophomore outing has ended a nearly two-decade-long drought for India cinema.
The first film from the subcontinent in competition in one of the ‘Big Three’ festivals – Cannes, Venice and Berlin – in 19 years, The Marathi-language film will be vying with 17 other films for the 77th Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion. The jury is headed by Cate Blanchett.
The Disciple is set in Mumbai but in a milieu far removed from Court, Tamhane’s debut.The 2014 film examined the anomalies of the Indian judicial system, weaving the tale around the death of a manhole cleaner, the plight of a protest singer who is accused of inciting suicide and the question of freedom of expression. The Disciple, the synopsis indicates, is set in the rarefied world of Indian classical music.
Tamhane, 33, is of course no stranger to Venice. His uber-realistic courtroom drama Court not only played in Orizzonti in 2014, it won the section’s Best Film prize in addition fetching the director the Luigi De Laurentiis Award.
The synopsis of The Disciple reads: “Sharad Nerulkar has devoted himself to becoming an Indian classical vocalist, a lifelong quest in which few succeed. Initiated into this centuries-old tradition by his father, he follows his dream with sincerity and discipline, committing himself entirely to his artistic journey.
“As he strives to attain the highest level of his craft, Sharad traces his way through the hallowed mysteries and rituals of past musical legends. But as the years pass, Sharad will be forced to negotiate between the complex realities of life in contemporary Mumbai and his chosen path, leading him to find his true voice in music and in life.”
In a press release, Tamhane has said: “This is an important milestone for not just for us but also for the Indian independent cinema movement. The Disciple has been a true labour of love, and collectively we have poured every ounce of energy, effort, and love into it over the last four years. It has been a beautiful collaboration and I’m thankful to all of the film’s extremely dedicated actors and the entire crew. I am relieved and happy that it has found such a great start for its journey even in these tough times.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if The Disciple goes all the way and scoops up the Golden Lion? The importance of the Venice Competition slot for Tamhane’s film obviously lies in the fact that the last time an Indian was here was way back at the turn of the millennium. Felicitously, that film, Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding (2001), went on to win the festival’s top prize.
Not to forget, the year before, a Bengali film, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Uttara (The Wrestlers, 2000), was in the Venice Competition and it earned the filmmaker the Special Director Award. If The Disciple returns with an award, it would be three-in-a-row for India.
In case you wish to look for any other positive signs in favour of The Disciple, it could be this: Satyajit Ray’s 1957 Golden Lion winner, Aparajito (The Unvanquished) was also the director’s second film. Among the films that Aparajito beat on the way to gold was Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood.
So, what is The Disciple up against? A spread of films that are amazingly diverse and imposing, including Michel Franco’s Nuevo Orden, Amos Gitai’s Laila in Haifa, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Dear Comrades, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Wife of a Spy, and Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary about life at night in the Middle East, Notturno.
India will have two other shots at Venice glory this year – in the Orizzonti features competition with Ivan Ayr’s Meel Patthar (Milestone) and the section’s short films competition with Sushma Khadepaun’s Anita.
In Ayr’s 98-minute Hindi/Punjabi film Milestone, one of 19 titles in Orizzonti competition, the past catches up with a truck driver in his 50s. “He has got to a point where he is well respected in his company but the future appears very uncertain,” the director says. The film looks at how that “sometimes gets him desperate and reveals bit by bit his inner fears, his life choices and his journey.”
Among the other films in Orizzonti competition are Lav Diaz’s Lahi, Hayop, Gia Coppola’s Mainstream, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special and Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s Yellow Cat.
Ayr’s first film, Soni, was in Orizzonti in 2018. The director was at the Berlinale earlier this year to pitch his “second film”, but he had another film in the works that he talked about. That is where Venice got wind of Meel Patthar, which Ayr competed five or six days before he flew to Berlin.
“I showed them an initial director’s cut. In fact, I hadn’t even told them I was working on a film. Word just got to them, probably because I talked about the film to everyone I met in Berlin,” say Ayr.
“Meel Patthar,” Ayr says,“is a very personal story of just one character. I say it is personal because many of the elements come from own experiences with my extended family. I have extended family in India, the US and Canada who are in the transportation business.”
Meel Patthar has Punjabi actors Suvinder Vicky (from Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot) and Lakshvir Saran.
Sushma Khadepaun’s 17-minute Gujarati short Anita was conceived as a feature-length film about a woman looking for freedom through an arranged marriage in the US. But things do not pan out as she expects them to and she finds herself trapped, completely dependent on her husband.
The director says that the story of the film “comes from personal experience”. She adds: “What the short film is asking is: is it possible to go away completely from where and with what you have grown up?”
“It is still evolving,” the New York City-based director says. “I am working on expanding the protagonist’s relationship with her husband. The short film has emerged from that process.”
Anita was filmed near Valsad with mostly Gujarati actors. “Only Aditi (Vasudev) does not speak Gujarati. I cast her a year before the film was made. She learnt the language,” says Khadepaun.
“A platform like Venice gives the film a push and opens up the possibility of it finding a wider audience,” she says. “In fact, given the situation we are all in, just the thought of being able to see the film play on a big screen is exciting.”
Film Bazaar backs emerging filmmakers
Many of the subcontinent’s most applauded, well-travelled contemporary films and festival films have taken shape – and wings – on National Film Development Corporation’s Film Bazaar platform that has made mentoring and networking facilities available to emerging filmmakers.
All three Indian filmmakers — Chaitanya Tamhane, Ivan Ayr and Sushma Khadepaun — who have made it to Venice Film Festival 2020 have had their film journeys and mentoring at Film Bazaar. Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court was part of the Film Bazaar Co-Production Market in 2012. Ivan Ayr’s Soni was part of the Work in Progress Lab in 2017. Sushma Khadepaun’s Sabras was in Co-Production Market in 2019.
As an incubator of new film projects in India and the rest of the subcontinent, the NFDC Film Bazaar, now in its 14th year, has rendered yeoman service by engendering an ecosystem that allows originality to thrive while not losing sight of tried and tested ground rules that have proven beneficial.
The 73rd Locarno Film Festival is reinventing its 2020 edition and has developed a new initiative, The Films After Tomorrow, aimed at supporting projects that aim to help filmmakers (10 international and 10 Swiss filmmakers) who had their projects put on hold because of Coronavirus pandemic. Locarno managed to raise $220,000 of prize money for The Films After Tomorrow initiative.
FilMart Hong Kong August 26-29
Amid lockdown and travel restrictions, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council has decided to migrate the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART) to a virtual platform. FILMART Online will take place from August 26-29 and Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum will take place from August 26-28. The virtual FILMART will enable buyer-seller meets, showcase content and seminars.
Venice International Film Festival Venice, Italy September 2-12
The 77th Venice International Film Festival will be a toned down physical festival. Around 50 films will be part of official selection on July 28. The main competition, Venezia 77, will feature approximately 20 films. All other titles in official selection will debut either in Out of Competition or Horizons sections. Venice Gap Financing Market will happen in virutal format.
Toronto International Film Festival & Market Canada September 10-20
The 45th edition of Toronto International Film Festival will take place September 10–19 with socially distanced screenings, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks. For the first time, TIFF will launch a digital platform, affording new opportunities to connect with audiences beyond Toronto. TIFF has partnered with Shift72 to develop this platform to host screenings and events.
Moscow International Film Festival Moscow October 1-8
The 42nd edition of Moscow International Film Festival, Russia’s main international film event, is scheduled to run October 1-8. The objective is to promote cultural exchanges and mutual understanding among nations and to develop further cooperation among filmmakers of the world. It is supported by the Ministry of Cultural Federation and the Department of Culture of the City of Moscow.
MipJunior JW Marriott, Cannes, France October 10-11
MIPJunior 2020 will push beyond physical boundaries with its first ONLINE+ Digital Hybrid Edition. MIPJunior gathers the most influential buyers, commissioners, producers, development executives and distributors from the global Kids TV industry. MIPJunior is the perfect destination for producers to stand out and for buyers to discover the latest kids programming before sealing partnerships at MIPCOM.
MipCom Cannes, France October 12-15
MIPCOM 2020 will push beyond physical bounaries with its first ONLINE+ Digital Hybrid Edition. MIPCOM is the world’s largest exhibition of studios and distributors, as well as the top showcase for content across all genres and platforms. A world-class market place where leading professionals gather to promote hit-defining content, strike distribution and co-production deals and network face-to-face with creative forces.
American Film Market Santa Monica, California November 9-13
The American Film Market will bring its 2020 edition online, said the Independent Film & Television Alliance® (IFTA®). AFM 2020 Online will run from November 9 to November 13. This year will be the 41st market. “AFM 2020 Online will give global film community opportunities that are always critical to our success,” said Michael Ryan, Chairman, IFTA and Partner, GFM Films.
IFFI Goa, India November 20-28
Preparations for 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) have begun. Asia’s oldest event of its kind, IFFI still holds on to its pre-eminent position as a showcase of cinematic excellence. It has remained steadfast in its emphasis on showcasing the diversity of Indian cinema The festival will take place in limited physical and online format.
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.
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)
Driven by a fresh burst of energy, a new breed of independent filmmakers are delivering films based on their own individualistic visions, erasing the gap between the socially meaningful and the commercially viable Indian cinema – By Saibal Chatterjee
Mediocrity is mainstream Indian cinema’s comfort zone. It has always been. But today, being middling is more than just an old habit for filmmakers seeking easy ways to achieve runaway commercial success. It has become a necessity. Low-grade, star-driven commercial cinema and its purveyors are being gleefully embraced by both the masses and the official agencies charged with the promotion of film culture in the country.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that an unabashedly misogynistic film like Arjun Reddy hits the box-office bull’s eye. Its Hindi remake, Kabir Singh, made by the same director with a different actor, does even better.
Another easy-to-sell category of cinema has emerged, especially in Mumbai, over the past few years: adulatory biopics and puff jobs. These are films that are either aggressively jingoistic (Uri: The Surgical Strike, RAW: Romeo Akbar Walter) or are unabashed extended, fictionalized public service adverts (Toilet: Ek Prem Katha). Taking the line of least resistance pays instant dividends. These films not only make pots of money but also often go on to win national awards at the cost of essays that are leagues ahead in cinematic terms.
But for a new breed of independent filmmakers who are consciously pulling away from the crowd and following their own individualistic visions to deliver films aimed at erasing the gap between the socially meaningful and the commercially viable, Indian cinema today would have worn the looks of a hopeless wasteland.
Mercifully, even filmmakers working in the mainstream space – Pa. Ranjith and Vetrimaaran in Chennai and Anurag Kashyap and Anubhav Sinha in Mumbai – do not shy away from hitting political hot-buttons and questioning gender presumptions in stories couched in popular narrative formulations.
When Vetrimaaran makes Vada Chennai, he ensures that it isn’t any ordinary gangster flick. He infuses it with a social resonance that communicates truths about a city and society in ways that are beyond the reach of less clued-in filmmakers. Pretty much the same is true of Pa. Ranjith. His two Rajinikanth vehicles, Kabali and Kaala, have a strong caste struggle sub-text delivered in a style that never strays into the preachy and boring. Ranjith also recently produced Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal, the story of a boy from an oppressed caste struggling to ward of continuing discrimination.
Ranjith is now in the midst of directing his first Hindi-language film – a drama based on the life of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda. The choice of hero is a natural progression for a filmmaker whose cinema has probed the place of the deprived and dispossessed in a society where power flows from religious identity and caste allegiance.
Important elements dovetailed into the plot of Anurag Kashyap’s boxing drama Mukkabaaz also reflects the political consciousness of the maker. The ills of the caste system have also been laid bare in stark detail in Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15. The film is a worthy follow-up to Sinha’s Mulk, which addressed the issue of Islamophobia head-on. We might argue that Indian films still haven’t gone far enough to call out patriarchy and the Brahmanical order. But the very fact that some films are making an attempt, no matter a feeble, is itself a sign of the changing times.
A fresh burst of energy is driving independent filmmakers not just in Tamil Nadu and Kerala but also in Mumbai. The primary space in debutant Madhu C. Narayanan’s Malayalam film Kumbalangi Nights, scripted by Syam Puskaran, is the home of four brothers who have no woman in their lives. The siblings are all flawed, scalded individuals until women enter their lives and make them see life and love in a different light. The film is an examination of masculinity that turns the entire notion of patriarchy on its head.
Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s daringly innovative multi-plot drama Super Deluxe is a film that throws caution to the wind and yet comes with such astounding formal precision that one cannot but watch in awe and applaud. Kumararaja throws four sub-plots into a giant, constantly whirring grinder and emerges with a film so fascinating and so wondrously inventive that one is caught by surprise at every turn.
Super Deluxe subverts our expectations at every turn. A couple is thrown into turmoil following the death of the woman’s ex-boyfriend in her bed. A father of a boy returns to his family after a seven-year absence in the guise of a transwoman. A schoolboy who bunks school with his friends to watch a pornographic film flies into a rage on discovering that his mother is an adult movie actress. Four friends get into terrible tangle with the underworld in an attempt to wriggle out of a minor jam.
The fast-paced, almost breathless film delivers a dazzling kaleidoscope of an urban landscape where every single day is as strange and disconcerting as the previous one. Super Deluxe is testimony to what younger Tamil filmmakers are capable of as storytellers and craftsmen.
The new Malayalam cinema, too, is going through a wonderfully fecund phase. Three films made by Kerala directors are in two of world’s major festivals this year. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Chola (Shape of Water) premieres at the Venice Film Festival while Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu and Getu Mohandas’s Moothon are in the Toronto International Film Festival. Sasidharan’s S Durga won the Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam a couple of years ago, the first Indian film to bag the prize.
Lijo is, of course, also a name to reckon with. He is in the midst of a urple patch., Before Jallikattu, he delivered two absolutely stunning films – Angamaly Diaries and Ee. Ma. Yau – both of which prove his grasp over the medium and his phenomenal ability to handle a multiplicity of actors within single uninterrupted sequences.
The first world that spring to mind when watching a Lijo film is dynamism, the kind that can be extremely infectious. It would be no exaggeration if we were to suggest that he, along with Sasidharan, are the ones who are propelling the resurgence of Malayalam cinema on the global stage. We expect more surprises as filmmakers from Kerala reclaim the place they had in international festivals in the 1980s and a part of the 1990s.
Afghan film “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha” produced by filmmaker Sahraa Karimi has made its way to the 76th Venice International Film Festival in the Orizzonti section (Horizons) is a section of the Venice Film Festival’s official selection
Filmmaker Karimi said “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha” tells the story of Afghan women suffering from different incidents, including explosions and bombings, in the country. “As a female filmmaker from Afghanistan, I promised myself to be the storyteller of my fellow countrywomen who seek to change their lives in a traditional society. By travelling to many Afghan cities and villages, I found real stories from inside my country about women such as Hava, Maryam, and Ayesha,” says director Sahraa Karimi, as she talks about her venture Hava, Maryam Ayesha.
The first independent Afghan film entirely shot in Kabul with director, actors, and actresses living in Afghanistan is about three Afghan women from different social background.
Born in 1985, Sahraa Karimi comes from the second generation of Afghan refugees in Iran. At the age of fifteen, she played as an actress in two Iranian films which brought her to study cinema in Slovakia and graduated with a PHD of directing. During these years, she has made more than 30 short fictions and documentaries, some of which won numerous awards in International film festivals.
After 10 years of making many shorts and documentaries, she returned to Kabul. She made two documentaries there which were successful internationally and were broadcasted through ARTE France and BBC. Hava, Maryam, Ayesha is her first feature film which was shot entirely in Kabul with Afghan actors.
Giving interesting details about the lead characters, she says, “Hava is the example of an Afghan housewife, Maryam is an intellectual and well-educated woman, and Ayesha is a teenager from the middle class. They are trying not to give in to the imposed patriarchal society. Their decision is a form of resistance to their predetermined life. My goal is to narrate the lives of the women who haven’t had a voice for many years, and they are now ready to change their fate. “
The film’s synopsis goes like this: “Three Afghan women from different social background, living in Kabul, are facing a big challenge in their lives. Hava, a traditional pregnant woman whom no one cares about, is living with her father and mother in law. Her only joy is talking to the baby in her belly. Maryam, an educated TV news reporter, is about to get a divorce from her unfaithful husband, but finds out she is pregnant. Ayesha, an 18-year old girl accepts to marry her cousin because she is pregnant from her boyfriend who disappears after hearing the news. Each of them has to solve her problem by herself for the first time.”
According to the film’s producer Katayoon Shahabi, “Through my frequent participations in festivals around the world, I’ve noticed an emergence of a new generation of talented Afghan filmmakers to which Sahraa, the director of this movie, belongs. After ten years of studying cinema and working on different movies, she moved back to her hometown, Kabul in order to offer an insight into Afghan society.
When I met Sahraa for the first time and saw her documentaries in Antalya 2016, what grabbed my attention was that she had managed to bring together western techniques of cinema (she has a PhD of cinema from Slovakia) and her Afghan identity that made her film authentic and honest.
She was determined to make her first feature film in Kabul with the money that she had been saving during many years of work, by using local actors and despite security risks that could put her life in danger.
Witnessing her dedication as well as her crew’s to make this first independent film, I was determined to do what I can to finish this film and help it to be seen worldwide by as many people as possible.”
The Venice International Film Festival will present veteran Chinese director Zhang Yimou with this year’s lifetime achievement award, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory prize.
The award will be conferred to Zhang Yimou on 6 September 2018 in the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema), before the world premiere screening Out of Competition of his new film Ying (Shadow). Ying is a martial arts (wuxia) film about the conflict between two feudal groups.
Regarding this acknowledgment, the Director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera stated in a press release: “Zhang Yimou is not only one of the most important directors in contemporary cinema, but with his eclectic production, he has represented the evolution of global language of film, and at the same time, the exceptional growth of Chinese cinema. Zhang Yimou has been a pioneer thanks to his capacity to translate authors, stories and the richness of Chinese culture in general into a unique and unmistakable visual style. His unforgettable debut, Red Sorghum (1987), adapted from Nobel award winner Mo Yan, brought him international recognition as one of the most important directors of the Fifth Generation. Since then, his talent in combining the elegance of form with a universal type of narrative structure has won him important acknowledgments, including two Golden Lions for The Story of Qiu Ju (1992) and Not one less (1999). At the turn of the century, the martial arts film Hero (2002) – his third nomination for an Oscar as best foreign-language film – established him as an icon of the Chinese cinema at the global level, and won him the direction of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing (2008), followed by a series of major productions with International film stars. With Shadow (2018), to be presented in its world premiere screening at the 75th Venice International Film Festival, Zhang Yimou returns to martial arts films with the formal elegance and remarkable inventiveness that has always distinguished his cinema”.
Ying (Shadow) is a martial arts (wuxia) film about the conflict between two feudal groups. In China, during the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280 circa A.D.), an exiled king and his people develop a plot to regain control of their land. The events are told from the points of view of the king, his sister, his commander, the women trapped in the royal palace and a common citizen.
Four times in Competition at the Venice Film Festival – in 1991 with Raise the Red Lantern, in 1992 with The Story of Qiu Ju, in 1997 with Keep Cool and in 1999 with Not One Less – winner of two Golden Lions, respectively in 1992 and in 1999, a Silver Lion in 1991 and a Coppa Volpi for Best Actress (Gong Li, in 1992 for The Story of Qiu Ju), Zhang Yimou is the only director to have won all the most important prizes of the Venice Film Festival in less than ten years.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is for the fourteenth consecutive year a sponsor of the Venice International Film Festival, and for the twelfth of the Glory to the Filmmaker award. The prize has been awarded in past years to Takeshi Kitano (2007), Abbas Kiarostami (2008), Agnès Varda (2008), Sylvester Stallone (2009), Mani Ratnam (2010), Al Pacino (2011), Spike Lee (2012), Ettore Scola (2013), James Franco (2014), Brian De Palma (2015), Amir Naderi (2016), Stephen Frears (2017).