The latest issue of Film India Worldwide highlights the 16th International Film festival of Kerala held in Thiruvananthapuram over December 9 to 16. What follows below is one of the articles in this special year-end issue of Film India Worldwide.
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"Fortnight at Busan Fest?" - "Life Changing!"
By Ridhesh Sejpal
A casual conversation over coffee with a fellow participant at IFFI 2010 made Ridhesh Sejpal aware of one of the best-kept secrets of the Busan International Film Festival. Its Asian Film Academy is one of the world’s biggest talent boot camp, which intends to foster young talent in Asia and create a filmmakers network among the attendees
I was inspired to be a part of Busan's Asian Film Academy. Going quickly through the website, I was amazed to see world renowned directors such as Abbas Kiarostami (Iran), Im Kwon-taek (Korea) and Kurosawa Kiyoshi (Japan) as respective deans over previous years.
The meticulous selection process in the first round required credentials, a filmography and an essay. The second round consisted of a telephonic interview with select applicants.
After an impatient wait of close to a month, I got the acceptance confirmation! It was gratifying to learn that I was among the two Indians selected from 144 applications across 21 Asian countries.
I felt exhilarated seeing the opportunity that lay ahead, spending 17 unforgettable days in South Korea making a short film with 23 other select Fellows from all corners of Asia. This year’s Dean was the father of modern Polish Cinema, Krzysztof Zanussi, the first Non-Asian Dean for AFA. Heading the direction faculty was India’s Camera O’dor winner, Murali Nair. Johnny Jensen (USA) with his 45 years of experience headed the Cinematography Department. Assisting them were production supervisors, the best in their respective fields.
The Fellows were divided into two teams numbering 12 each. Each member was given his/ her individual role. I was in the Direction team.
The program started on September 29. Our script was finalized during the online preparations, so we went straight into a six-day pre-production. We had ample options for our locations, and the best actors to choose from the Korean industry.
Making call sheets till 3 am in the morning and waking up at 6 am for rehearsals was exhausting but worthwhile. What made it unique was the chance to collaborate with other young Asian filmmakers under the supervision and wisdom of world-class mentors.
With thorough pre-production and solid preparation, we got into production. We shot on 35mm Digital and were provided with the best technical resources. The shoot lasted for three rigorous, exciting days. What followed was post-production over the next four days.
While editing, we managed to attend other events such as filmmaking workshops, films playing at the Busan Film Festival, networking parties and master classes by renowned filmmakers such as Luc Besson,Lee Chang Dong, Shunji Iwai and Yonfan.
What was special was our visit to the film pitching sessions at the Asian Film Market, which included introductions to investors at the festival’s Asian Cinema Fund.
Our 17-day program culminated at a graduation ceremony on October 13. Our films were shown to the public at the Busan Film Festival. Walking the red carpet in front of thousands and seeing our arduous work transform into a movie on the big screen was an experience no words can explain. There was also an award for the “Best Fellow” in each team. The AFA staff and mentors chose me from my team for this award, for which I received USD 5000 for my next project. A proud moment for me!
My experience at AFA is by far the best in my entire career. It has made me more confident about the path I have chosen. Apart from the practical experience, what I took back with me are the priceless moments I spent with my fellow filmmakers. Those endless pre-production meetings, night-long conversations, ardent arguments over cinema, will remain with me always. It has helped me rediscover myself. It will have a profound effect on everything I do, here on.
Ridhesh Sejpal is a filmmaker from Mumbai. He runs a film production company called Wise Guy Entertainment. www.wiseguyent.com