Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Exclusive Coverage of the 12th Indian Film Festival of LA

Indian Cinema In The Heart Of Hollywood
Tue Apr 15, 2014

Shivangi Ranawat at IFFLA where her film Alchemy
won the Best Short Film award
LOS ANGELES: The 12th Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) attracted record participation of films, film-makers and audiences over six tumultuous days, April 8 to 13. Specially notable was the array of fine first-time filmmakers who attended.

What is specially attractive about IFFLA, apart from its great geographic location, is the venue itself. The best of recent Indian films are screened at Arclight Hollywood, which has the crystal clear sound and projection that directors dream about.

As Indian advisor on IFFLA programming, I had seen all but one of the features finally selected. But seeing them again under Arclight’s ideal conditions was like discovering them afresh, with eye and ear relishing each nuance. An added pleasure is the ambience, the theatre’s spacious courtyard offering space and seating for groups to gather at leisure. There is an IFFLA bonus to boot – a first-floor Lounge made Indian in character for delegates and friends.

This year, IFFLA’s package of 35 films featured ten languages. Russian is one, in the 12-minute “Love, Love, Love” directed by Sandhya Daisy Sunderam. It tells of the forces of love lived through many Russian summers.
This year, the selection offered a majority of first-time filmmakers. Among them were many internationally known and acclaimed.

The opening American film Sold is the debut feature of Jeffrey D Brown. Based on Patricia McCormick’s book, the film is a vivid portrayal of a spirited 12-year-old girl from Nepal lured to Kolkata with a job offer then inducted brutally into prostitution. The film’s executive producer is Emma Thompson. Actress Gillian Anderson (of X Files fame) plays a key role. Both celebrities are actively involved in social causes specially those connected with child abuse. Niyar Saikia from Assam excels in the lead role. Jeffrey Brown is eager to use his film to raise large-scale funding in the fight against child trafficking. He also wants to implement medical and yogic procedures in India that are geared to treating the trauma of rape survivors.

Other first timers were Nagraj Manjule (Fandry, in Marathi), Indranil Chowdhury (Phoring, in Bengali), Amit Kumar (Monsoon Shootout, in Hindi), Amit V Masurkar (Sulemani Keeda, in Hindi), Geetu Mohandas (Liar’s Dice, in Hindi) and two from the US, James E. Duff (Hank and Asha) and Mahesh Pailur’s Brahmin Bulls (English, starring Roshan Seth).

There were quite a few second features: from Canada, Richie Mehta’s Siddharth and Anup Singh’s Qissa (in Punjabi). The package included Ankhon Dekhi, actor-director’s Rajat Kapoor’s fourth feature film.

The programme contained a fine collection of shorts and documentaries. A highlight was Shivangi Ranawat’s animated films, the Little Gypsy (6 minutes) and Alchemy (5 minutes). The first is a graduation diploma film from DSK Supinfocum, an animation film school established in 2008 as a joint venture between the DSK Group, India and Supinfocom Group, France. The academics are controlled by the French institute to match international standards and its teachers are recruited from various parts of Europe and Asia.

Little Gypsy is a stunning visual kaleidoscope inspired by various Indian folk songs. The film depicts a mythical journey that celebrates the power game between various forces. Ranawat’s Alchemy is the first film of a newly formed collective, Ekabhuya, of which she is the founder-director. The film is a music video on modern-day India.

Another first that drew as much laughter as applause from the audience was the 85-minute documentary The Auction House: A Tale of Two Brothers by British director Ed Owles. The film is on the family-owned auction house, Russell Exchange, in Kolkata. It was run for 40 years by the younger brother Arshad. Suddenly, his elder more assertive brother Anwar decides to return from a top job in the UK to bring some elan and style to the messy, run-down, old-fashioned appearance and method of operation at Russell Exchange. While the film observes the two brothers locking horns over every issue, its backdrop provides a wry yet endearing look at those who inhabit the world of Russell Exchange and the bustling streets that lead to it from many corners of Kolkata.
Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014.reproducing Uma da Cunha's column


Monday, April 14, 2014


FANDRY receives Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature,

POWERLESS receives Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary.

Best Short Film winner, ALCHEMY, will receive a cash grant from HBO.

Audience Choice Awards go to SIDDHARTH, FAITH CONNECTIONS, and KUSH

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 14, 2012) – The 12 annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) concluded on Sunday evening (April 13) with a red carpet and gala fete that included the Los Angeles premiere of Amit Gupta’s JADOO and the presentation of the festival's Grand Jury and Audience Choice Awards.

This year the festival showcased more than 30 film features, documentaries, and shorts at ArcLight Hollywood, home of IFFLA since its inception. “The awards are bittersweet, as this means the festival has reached its conclusion,” said IFFLA Artistic Director Jasmine Jaisinghani. “We’ve had an incredible six days celebrating Indian cinema, creating dialogue between our filmmakers and our wonderful Los Angeles audiences, and building bridges for our filmmakers with industry professionals.”

FANDRY, directed by Nagraj Manjule, took home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature, with an honorable mention for Richie Mehta’s SIDDHARTH. The Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary went to co-directors Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar for POWERLESS.

The prize for Best Short, which included a cash grant from HBO, was presented to ALCHEMY, directed by Pranay Patwardhan, Shivangi Ranawat, and Janmeet Singh. An honorable mention was given to LOVE. LOVE. LOVE., directed by Sandhya Daisy Sundaram.

The Narrative Films jury stated: “All of the films were a pleasure to watch. We are in awe of and inspired by the stories that the filmmakers brought to us. So many of the films dealt with the exploitation of children, such as child labor. The film we chose – FANDRY - features stunning cinematic quality and powerful story-telling, capturing the inner life of its young hero, and providing a detailed and intimate illustration of the social power structure of his village.”

The statement from the Documentary Film Jury reads: “For its portrayal of a community faced with a power struggle over limited resources and its complex web of stories, the jury gives the documentary award to POWERLESS.”

Regarding the Short Film Awards, the jury stated: “The Honorable Mention goes to LOVE. LOVE. LOVE., a well crafted documentary from a fresh filmmaking voice that seamlessly transports us from character to character and touched our hearts along the way. The Grand Jury Prize is presented to ALCHEMY. Culturally rooted and formally inventive, this film used mixed media to create a one of a kind film-going experience.”

The 2014 narrative film jurors were: award winning actress Shoreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog, House of Saddam), writer and prolific television actress Meera Simhan (Miss India America), Variety film journalist and educator David Chute, and Head of Digital Development for Crackle and Sony Pictures Television John Orlando. The Best Documentary Award was decided by award-winning writer, producer, and director Brian Knappenberger (The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz), film festival programmer Dilcia Barrera (Sundance, AFI FEST, LACMA), and producer Chris Salvaterra (The Visitor, Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck). Judging the short films were Senior Vice President of Post-Production at HBO Entertainment Gena Desclos, award-winning director and writer Kamal K.M.(I.D.),and Sundance and Palm Springs International ShortFest programmer Heidi Zwicker.

IFFLAFrom Left to Right: Richie Mehta (SIDDARTH), Nagraj Manjule (FANDRY), Shivangi Ranawat (ALCHEMY), Vivek Kajaria (FANDRY), and Pan Nalin (FAITH CONNECTIONS)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Busan International Film Festival
 Asian Cinema Fund Team

Call for Submissions!!
Post-Production Fund

For Asian Project
The director should have a non-Korean Asian nationality.
 (If the director is of Asian heritage or a non-Asian residing in Asian country, ACF will judge the eligibility based on other factors of the project.)

The project should contain Asian elements in story, theme, character, and its set-up.

 Fiction feature project shot in HD

 Project that can complete editing and pre-mixing before July, 2014.

 Application materials
Project description form (Please download on ACF website)
Script (English or Korean)
4 copies of DVD of rough cut or fine cut (send to the address below.)

*Post-production services (DI, Final Mixing, DCP) provided by post studios in Korea.
*If post-production process occurs in Korea, round-trip economy airfare for two, one hotel room accomodation, and Korean-English translation will be provided by ACF.
 *If a Chinese project is selected, post-production services will be provided by Chinese post studio. In this case, airfare, accomodation and translation will not be provided.

 Busan International Film Festival
 Asian Cinema Fund Team
 address: #1601, GARDEN TOWER, 84 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-795 Korea
email: (fiction) / (documentary)
 tel: 02-3675-5097


Wednesday, April 9, 2014


By UMA DA CUNHA - extract from
Sat Apr 5, 2014
Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi and Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi exemplify the move in mainstream cinema beyond star-driven work to searching analyses of India’s harsh realities. Both films have pushed known and new actors to delving deep into their abilities to express something new and striking. An aside: each director/writer enacts a key role in his film.

Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi, set in Delhi, follows an elderly man who is propelled by the injustices he sees to using his own, quirky methods of rescue and deliverance. Lakshmi, set on the outskirts of Hyderabad, presents the searing story of a pubescent girl kidnapped and sold to a brothel.

Both films are about issues which we, as citizens, should face up to and raise in the campaigns of the coming elections – firstly, to understand and help the elderly to live their lives with dignity within today’s friendless environments and, secondly, to access and change the mindset of the predatory male when it comes to child prostitution and rape.

In Ankhon Dekhi, Sanjay Mishra excels as Raje Bauji, a middle-aged man who calmly copes with a chaotic joint-family and a mundane office job. The hostility to his daughter’s relationship with a young man who is unfairly maligned and humiliated makes him question all social norms. From then on, he breaks free. He decides to adhere to the principle of believing only what his eyes tell him. Inviting ridicule, he is boycotted by his family, friends and employer. Eventually, his tenacity earns him respect and a following.

The film minutely observes the turmoil faced by the head of a family as he confronts escalating urbanism in a world of changing ethics and morals. This incisive film is based on an original script by Rajat Kapoor. Lakshmi, also written by Kukunoor and released in both Hindi and Telugu,is about two Reddy brothers, Chinna and Anna. They procure young girls for Dharam Vilas, a girl’s hostel that camouflages a thriving brothel. Chinna (Nagesh Kukunoor), is the brothel’s uncouth, sadistic wheeler-dealer. Anna (Satish Kaushik) is the more sympathetic manager. 

The film is based on a true story of a 14 year-old girl. She is the winsome and petite Lakshmi, a nuanced debut performance by playback singer Monali Thakur. She is kidnapped and taken to Anna, who she believes at first to be her benefactor. He soon brutally rapes her as an act of propitiation of the Gods suggested by a priest. Lakshmi then finds herself in Dharam Vilas and is swiftly, brutally, systematically inducted into prostitution.

She is determined to escape but is foiled at every turn with increasing violence. Kukunoor dwells at length and repeatedly on Lakshmi’s endless daily ritual of washing herself after servicing one man after another, and coping with the life she has to lead. He looks unflinchingly at every sordid act that Lakshmi is subjected to and the monotony of her existence, man after man, hour after hour. Finally, Lakshmi does escape with the help of an NGO and has the courage to expose the main malefactors.

Kukunoor’s film may seem excessive but is intentionally so. He aims to force the viewer to feel and suffer Lakshmi’s daily pain and degradation. This is why Lakshmi hits us harder than most other films on the subject. With all the protests and reportage of real-life cases of rape, they continue to occur, routinely. There is no remorse or fear. The frightening reports daily of child abuse and the killer-instinct among rapists suggest that all round uproar and condemnation do not touch the conscience of the street predator on the prowl.

Films are becoming more viscerally aimed – perhaps why films like these two may hit the bull’s eye.

Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily which was launchedion January 27, 2014.reproducing Uma da Cunha's column 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Australian writer/director Paul Cox’s latest film…
Force of Destiny

India shoot wrapped on April 6, 2014

Paul Cox has emerged after battling cancer heroically over recent years to embark on the latest venture  in his illustrious career.  The film titled Force of Destiny ended its Australian shoot recently and then moved to Trivandrum, Kerala, for the final nine-day filming.

The Indian actors in the film are Shahana Goswamy (in the lead role of  Maya, Seema Biswas and Mohan Agashe. The Australian cast is led by David Wenham (300, Public Enemies, Lord of the Rings: Two Towers) and  Jacqueline McKenzie (Deep Blue Sea, Divine Secrets of the  Ya-Ya Sisterhood). The film is produced by Mark Patterson with  Maggie Miles as co-producer.

The producer of the Indian segment is Baby Mathew of  Soma  Creation, who already has short films and documentaries, as well as the feature film, Black Forrest.  Mr Mathew hosted a press conference on April 6 in Trivandrum to announce the successful completion of  the shoot of Paul Cox’s latest venture. 

Paul Cox’s film Force of Destiny is a journey of love and hope, of courage and sacrifice, and one man's miraculous salvation through a life-saving liver transplant. Its  story of survival is inspired by Paul Cox's personal experiences and his recent book “Tales From the Cancer Ward”.

Paul Cox is the writer/director of such notable award-winning films as Innocence, Man of Flowers and  A Woman's Tale.

Link below  Dr. Mohan Agashe in Trivandrum on the sets of Paul Cox's film, 'Force of Destiny'