Saturday, April 13, 2013

                                                                                                                                                  ISSUE 11

Extract from print copy of FIW VOL:VIII ISSUE:4

Nandan Saxena, Kavita Bahl’s Cotton for my Shroud
Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s State of the Art 
Goutam Ghose’s Inspiration 
Anand Patwardhan’s Jai Bhim Comrade
R V Ramani’s My Camera and Tsunami
Umair Hasan’s Shaji
Jagananthan Krishnan’s Videokaaran

Cotton for my Shroud
Directors  Nandan Saxena, Kavita Bahl
India, 2011, 82 mins, Hi-definition, English, Hindi, Marathi

Produced by Top Quark Films Private Limited and with camera/editing by Nandan Saxena, this film tries to understand, from a grass-roots perspective, what drives cotton farmers in Vidarbha to despair. A quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide since 1995. Is it a crisis of farm credit or are they victims of faulty paradigms of development? The film documents the self-seeking designs of American multinationals like Monsanto to control seed supply. Narrated in the first person, it opens a window into the drama and despair that forms the warp and weft of life at Vidarbha. Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl work in the genres of documentary and poetry films. Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights. Starting as news journalists, they turned independent filmmakers in 1996. 

State of the Art
Director/Writer/Cinematographer/Editor Ananth Narayan Mahadevan
India, 2011, 23 mins, 35 mm, English and partly Spanish

State of the Art is a filmmaker’s viewpoint on the glorious irony of the art scene in Madrid. Witness to serpentine queues at the Prado and Reiner Museums, book stores that line an entire street and a fervent pride in flamenco dancers and musicians, the city also sees a bizarre contradiction of milling crowds at the amphitheatre that lusts for bull fighting. With no commentary, the film uses music to script its way through the mental mayhem and the eventual catharsis it portrays. It also suggests that a man displaying his superiority over a fatigued beast is not victory, neither does the beast need to consider itself overpowered. Shot on locations at Madrid, the film is produced by Bindiya Khanolkar and Sachin Khanolkar with an original score by veteran composer, Ajit Verman.

Director Goutam Ghose
2011, India, 30 mins, Digital Video, English versions of Bangla and Hindi

This documentary is on Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics made on the 60th anniversary of the organization. Filmmaker Goutam Ghose has worked in the MN Saha Archive of the Centre for Advanced Research & Education (CARE) while making a documentary film on the Asiatic Society, Kolkata. The film, shot for Orchid Films, screened on the 61st Foundation Day of the institute. It features a young scientist. She goes to the institute as a graduate  student and meets its Director, Professor Milan Kumar Sanyal, on the first day. The film follows her as she visits the various labs, classrooms and the library, workshops and also as she joins both academic and canteen discussions. A commentary on the historical background of the institute and eminent astrophysicist, Professor Meghnad Saha is provided by Jagannath Guha. Sinha works as assistant to director Goutam Ghose. Bijoy Anand is the  cinematographer.

Jai Bhim Comrade
Director  Anand Patwardhan
India, 2011, 3 hours 17 mins, DV, Marathi
Best Film at Film South Asia Festival 2011 (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Anand Patwardhan, best known for his path-breaking documentary War and Peace, is back after nine years with a documentary on Dalit music and activism. Fourteen years in the making, the film explores the history of Dalit activism in Maharashtra in the aftermath of a police atrocity. The Bhim in the title refers to the Indian constitutionalist and thinker Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. His friend, poet and musician Vilas Ghogre, hung himself in 1997 when the police shot dead 10 unarmed Dalits in Mumbai. The film covers that moment and goes on to explore events that followed. “It is an overview of Indian history seen through the prism of caste and class and an exploration of the music of protest,” says Patwardhan. Known for prolonged legal battles over censorship of his films, Patwardhan hopes that his latest film which upholds the spirit of the Indian Constitution, will not face delays.

My Camera and Tsunami
Director/Cinematography/Editing/ Sound  R V Ramani
India, 2011, 90 mins, Video, English, Tamil, Bengali

Produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust and supported by Busan International Film Festival, this film depicts the special place of a camera in the filmmaker’s life, a bond shared over a period of four years of creating cinematic imagery. It is the memory of a camera which perished in the tsunami. Its last recorded footage is an elusive image, evoking multiple possibilities, seeking parallels and new perspectives. R V Ramani is a graduate in Physics from Mumbai University. He worked as a photo-journalist in Mumbai, and in 1985, graduated from the Film and TV Institute of India, Pune, specializing in Motion Picture Photography. In 1989, he moved from Mumbai to Chennai working as a cinematographer/filmmaker. Ramani makes independent impressionistic documentaries and retrospectives that have travelled widely to festivals across the globe. 

Director  Umair Hasan
India, 2011, 40 mins, Digital, Malayalam, English

A 25-year-old Malayali-speaking man from Kerala works in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. He undergoes a life-changing identity crisis.  His self-discovery begins through a series of dark family secrets. Dealing with an aging mother at home, a condescending boss, a best friend, a homosexual outcast in his office and a girl from his workplace, he sets out to find his true identity. Umair, a student of Architecture, started making films in 2010, inspired by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. He has previously written and directed one short film, Samosas & Bannerjee.

Director  Jagananthan Krishnan

Movie buff Sagai believes that film stars can impart spiritual messages that can uplift one’s own morale. He starts working in the same illegal video parlour in a Mumbai slum that his father used to and shares the story of his experiences with life and films in an eloquent and often politically incorrect manner. This film is Jagananthan’s first feature length documentary. He is an independent filmmaker from Mumbai and studied film at the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute.  The editing is by Pallavi Singhal and sound by Jayadevan Chakkadath.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

International Film Festival Environment – Health-Culture announces its Award Winners

The International Film Festival for Environment, Health, and Culture was established by some individuals with a mission to promote films pertaining to environment, health, and culture issues, each with their unique methods of storytelling.

The Awards Night will be held on May 9, 2013 at Blitzmegaplex cinema, Grand Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia. 

Here are the award winners of films that are related or that connect with India and the SubContinent

Special Jury Award and Award of Excellence - Sohan Roy’s DAM 999 (Intl. Feature)

Award of Excellence - Sourav Sarangi’s Char…The NO Man’s Island (docu-feature)

Award of Excellence - O P Srivastava’s A Few Days More (docu-feature)

Award of Excellence - Yatiana McCabe’s Restoring Sight in Bangladesh (Newcomer)


IMG_9391[1]Dam 999 (UAE-India)

Directed  by Sohan Roy

This 3D film aims to highlight the tragic 1975 Banqiao dam disaster which claimed over 250,000 lives. It is inspired from true life incidents and conveys the trauma of displaced people. The director says, “It is estimated that 85 percent of large dams, numbering about 40,000 all over the world, would have passed their projected life span by 2020. This movie uncovers the potential danger behind such dams and also portrays the fear of millions living around them.” The film has been shot in nine exotic locations, including Ramoji Film City (one among the largest production studios in the world) and also on the largest tanker vessel ever used in a film. The 3D effects enhance the film’s larger-than-life impact as dams are shown in the process of exploding into space. Produced by BizTV Network, the film’s crew includes technicians from Hollywood: Eric Sherman, the project consultant (a direction and production consultant to Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures and The Mount Company) and Rob Tobin, the screenwriter. The crew includes acclaimed names like Ajayan Vincent, Suresh Pai, Ousepachan, Padmasree Thotta Tharani, Shajith Koyeri, Pattanam Rasheed, S B Satheesh and Uzma Xina Kang. Director Sohan Roy is primarily a mariner and the brain behind Marine BizTV, the first global Maritime TV channel. He is a marine engineer, a naval architect, a director, a lyricist, an actor and an artist.


Rubel in mistChar ... the No-Man's Island

Directed by Sourav Sarangi

2012, India, 97 mins, 16:9, HD, Bengali language

Young Rubel wants to join school in India but reality forces him to smuggle rice every day by crossing the river Ganga, the international border between India and Bangladesh. The same river had swallowed his home when he was just four. Years later Rubel’s family and the other homeless settled in Char island formed within the large river and controlled by the border police. Even though 10-year old Sofi’s father was shot smuggling cows at night, the boy has no choice but to make money the same way while his mother fears every distant gun shot. The families are scattered today but the kids meet while crossing borders and help each other on a lost track of their childhood. A distant dam (barrage) built by India to control the mighty river did not help Rubel, Sofi and their families. In fact, it made them homeless, refugees on their own land by accelerating the river erosion. And yet, Rubel says, “Char may disappear but we won’t." Sourav Sarangi is the film’s producer, director, scriptwriter and editor, with Stefano Tealdi, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Jon Jerstad as co-producers. The DOPs are Sourav Sarangi, Rabindranath Das and Minarul Mondal. Char first screened at the 2012 Busan International Film Festival. Kolkata-based Saurav Sarangi graduated from the Presidency College, Kolkata, and joined the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, specializing in editing. His debut work, the documentary Tusu Katha (1996), won international accolades, and since then he has been editing, writing, directing and producing in both fiction and non-fiction genres. His international co-production documentary, Bilal (2008), travelled to over 50 international festivals winning 18 top awards.


UntitledA Few Days More

O P Srivastava

2012, India, Producer Reelism Films Mumbai

In an engaging story format, the film tries to explore the world of cancer management and the current practices and myths associated with it, while highlighting lesser known yet more humane and complementary medical practices for the holistic treatment of life limiting diseases like cancer. '..A human body is not only a container of diseases....." "....The current medical system only focuses on the disease...."


CaptureRestoring Sight in Bangladesh

Yatiana McCabeh

2012, United States, Bangladesh,12 min

Tatiana McCabe’s mixed media video, titled Restoring Sight in Bangladesh (2012) uses documentary footage, motion graphics and stop motion animation to explore the issue of cataract blindness in Bangladesh. McCabe’s interest in socially conscious filmmaking comes to life through her writing, cinematography and playful animations, which clearly explain her journalistic findings. The purpose of this film is to educate viewers about what cataracts are, why they are so problematic in developing countries and highlight the steps, which if taken, can help eradicate cataract blindness in the future.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kaushal Oza’s “Afterglow” in competition at IFFLA, which starts today


Afterglow 1“Afterglow”, a student film from the Film and Television Institute (FTII), Pune, has had a fantastic festival run and collected enviable awards. Over 2012, the film was adjudged Best Film at the Mumbai, Kolkata and at the London Film festival respectively. It screened at the Indian Panorama at IFFI Goa, and at the Indian Retrospective programme at Clermont Ferrand, France. Now, it is in competition at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

Recently, “Afterglow” won the National Award for the Best Short Film (Family Values) - the ultimate honour in India that a film can get. For Oza it is a landmark. In 2010, he won the National Award for his debut short Vaishnav Jan Toh. The double honour makes it the first time in the 60 years of FTII that a student has won the National Award for both his 2nd and 3rd year short films.

Kaushik Oza, who is in Los Angeles to attend the screening of “Afterglow”,

talks to Film India Worldwide about the making of his film

Kaushal - director's still JPEGFor my graduation film, working on two different scripts, I found both wanting. I developed a story instead, inspired from Rohinton Mistry’s short story, Condolence Visit. It is about a Parsi widow, who on the day of her husband’s dusmoo, is visited by guests who insist that she follow the orthodox Parsi traditions concerning death. The woman finally wills an unorthodox act, thereby defying society.

What interested me was that the author would often go back to describe the widow’s relationship with her husband as a contrast to the present. I found their relationship endearing and set about writing random scenes between them. There was no structure or purpose – it was a personal exercise to explore the loving relationship between a middle-aged Parsi couple when one is faced with certain death. I enjoyed this little exercise.

At class, I took my writing and notes to our lecturer, the leading script-writer Shama Zaidi. She encouraged me to work in more detail. Within three days, I had a screenplay. It was moving and funny and Shama Zaidi thought so too. Subsequent drafts differed from the story in as much as it resembled it.

Browsing at the FTII library I came across a line by Tagore - "Let my thoughts come to you, when I am gone, like the afterglow of sunset at the margin of starry silence." This line defined what I really wanted to say through the film. It was not, like in Mistry’s story, mainly the story of a Parsi widow against an orthodox society. What I was writing was a more personal story about a woman who has lost her husband and how she comes to terms with her loss. This realisation cast my script in a new light. I made a slight change to the last scene in the screenplay and suddenly I could see the whole film clearly.

I now had to confront casting. I decided to cast only Parsi actors, because Parsi’s are a distinctive race because of their Persian origins. Their physical features are different from other Indian communities. They have a natural accent and I wanted to retain its loveable twang. I had set myself a very limited choice.

My 10-day shoot did not permit acting fees, which surprisingly caused me no worry. The actors I wanted loved the script. Within a week, I had a stellar star cast of seasoned theatre and film professionals – Anahita Uberoi, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Sohrab Ardeshir and Meher Acharia. In fact, Anahita had fractured her foot but proceeded none the less. The joke on the set was that the lead cast was in a cast!

I then had to decide to shoot the entire film indoors. My cinematographer Manesh Madhavan had pointed out that there was only one brief outdoor scene where we see the main character walking. I scrapped that scene.

FTII then said that the studio I had wanted was unavailable. We went on a desperate location recci hoping we would find a Parsi family house, We found one – but it was not that of a Parsi. It was mine –the house I lived in. And I am a Gujarati.

My maternal grandfather has a two storeyed century-old house in Mumbai with its lower floor unused and in disrepair. My Art Direction team with assorted members of my joint family, extended family and family friends, went about getting the house renovated and ready for a shoot. Two days prior to the shoot, we found that the agent no longer wanted to lend us the antique furniture we required. With no budget to hire props, my Art Direction Team, Direction Assistants and family raided the neighbourhood for furniture that was old and could be a part of the set. When I returned home, the chairs missing!

The shoot went like a breeze. The team that had become infamous for shooting the whole film in one single house, outdid itself by shooting it all in one single room! A lasting memory I have of the shoot is shooting the last scene, where the main character just looks at a diya she has lit after the husband’s death and is finally ready to let go her husband. After a while the diya goes off. This ostensibly very undramatic scene was the climax of the film. It needed a very strong performance by a very strong actor. I hardly briefed Anahita for the shot. When Anahita did the shot, no one applauded, no one moved, no one spoke. We were all touched deep inside. For a long time in the room only the sound of the film running inside the camera could be heard.

The background score uses an adaptation of two Western Classical pieces Canon in D Major by Pachelbell and Staandchen by Schubert. I A fortuitous visit to Germany for a film festival which was screening one of my earlier films led me to Johannes Helsberg. He is a music student based in Hannover and excited to do the score for an Indian film.

There is one universal law of Film-making. Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. When we saw the first print of the film we realised that one of the labs had transferred our sound with a faulty machine – the sound was all wrong. We had to redo certain processes again and do a new print. However, my sound engineer Tanmoy persevered and made sure that everything was done properly.

Finally, in December 2011 we were able to do the traditional Diploma Screening of the Film at the Main Theatre in FTII.”

Monday, April 8, 2013

Countdown to 2013 IFFLA begins….

Five Select Documentaries

Wendy J N Lee's Pad Yata: A Green Odyssey
Jeff Roy's Mohammed to Maya
Sushrut Jain's Sushrut Jain
Kim Longinotto's Salma

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s Celluloid Man


Pad YatraPAD YATRA: A Green Odyssey

Director/Producer Wendy J.N. Lee


DOP Ngawang Sodpa

Editor Wendy J N Lee

Music Pilar Díaz, Derek Zhao

Cast Narrator: Daryl Hannah, The Drukpa, The Kung Fu Nuns, Aamir Khan

Awards 2012: Audience/Best Environmental Film - Big Bear Film Festival, Audience Award - Stuttgart Indian Film Festival, Best Documentary - Houston Indian Film Festival, Best Cinematography - Docutah Film Festival, Audience Award- Feel Good Film Festival, Honorable Mention – Blue Ocean Film Festival, Nominated –Best Inspirational Film, Orlando Film Festival

PAD YATRA: A Green Odyssey is the adventure of 700 people trekking across the Himalayas with a call to save the planet's "3rd Pole," a glacial region now devastated by the climate chaos associated with global warming. Battling the most treacherous terrain on the planet, the trekkers spread their message of ecological compassion through human's most basic means - by walking on foot, village to village, and showing by example. Surviving harrowing injuries, illness, and starvation, they emerge with nearly half a ton of plastic litter strapped to their backs, triggering an historic green revolution across the rooftop of the world.

Wendy J N Lee writer/director from Los Angeles, California is an alumna of Film Independent's talent lab, Project:Involve (2009), USC School of Cinematic Arts MFA Program (2008), and Boston College (2003). Lee’s award-winning fiction short, “Three Times Me,”(2010) travelled to aroundt 30 film festivals around the world, and her music videos have been distributed by MTV Networks and Fox Searchlight. Lee makes her debut Docu-feature with PAD YATRA: A Green Odyssey.She is currently writing the screenplay for her next feature film.


mohammed to MayaMohammed to Maya

Director/Producer/Editor: Jeff Roy


Cast Maya Jafer,

Awards Special Jury Award - Kashish Mumbai Intl Queer Film Festival, 2012

Mohammed to Maya is a feature-length documentary that examines issues of trans sexualism, religion, and traditionalism against the backdrop of a single person’s dramatic story. The film follows one year in the life of Maya Jafer (formerly Mohammed Jafer), a 42 year-old Muslim from Chennai, India, as she undergoes sexual reassignment surgery in Bangkok, Thailand. Maya is an incredibly accomplished woman, having immigrated to Southern California from South India, earned two doctorates in holistic medicine, and built a successful professional career. Since she was a young boy, Maya devoted her life to Islam, and followed a conservative life of prayer and familial obligation. Throughout her transition, however, she has had to redefine her spiritual and cultural devotion, facing incredible resistance along the way.

This film follows Maya as she struggles to maintain her faith despite persecution from her family and religious community. Was having a sex change the right decision? Will the surgery be successful? Will Allah reward or punish her for being who she truly is? Will her family disown her? In exploring the landscape of a conflicted mind, this documentary is about modern rites of passage, and the difficulties of letting go and starting new again.

Jeff Roy is an American-born filmmaker, musician, and Fulbright-MTVu scholar based in Los Angeles and Mumbai. Roy holds an MA in ethnomusicology from UCLA, and is currently working towards a PhD in the same field. A semi-professional violinist, Roy has performed with a number of internationally renowned musicians, including Ustad Imrat Khan, Ustad Shujaat Khan, Ali Jihad Racy, Souhail Kaspar, and Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil. He also composes music for film and live performances. His most recent film project includes the Prince of India, directed by Jill Andresevic (Love, Etc.) and Sonja Nuttal.  Roy premiered his first film, Rites of Passage (the short film version of Mohammed to Maya), in November 2011, and won Audience Choice Award. Mohammed to Maya is Roy’s first feature-length documentary.


Beyond All Boundaries200841-250

Direction, Script Sushrut Jain


As India, host of the 2011 World Cup of Cricket, begins its campaign to win the Cup after a 28-year drought, three ordinary Indians seek their salvation/escape from a difficult life through their passion for cricket - Sudhir, a penniless superfan who cycles across India to cheer the team; Prithvi, a 12-year old boy wonder who is a cricket prodigy; and Akshaya, a girl cricketer from Mumbai's slums. We follow Sudhir to see what drives the man who has renounced so much, including marriage, for his dream of cheering Team India forever; Akshaya as she competes in the trials for selection to the Mumbai Women's Team, and Prithvi as he copes with the unique pressures of being a cricket phenom in a cricket-crazy nation.

Mumbai-based Sushrut Jain grew up playing cricket. He pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics at Ohio Wesleyan University and obtained his Masters in Economics through Stanford University and worked as an economist in San Francisco. However, he found myself drawn to storytelling and went on to graduate in Film Production at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. His first short film Andheri (Darkness), 2008 travelled to over 40 film festivals and has won several awards.


SalmaSalma 1

Director Kim Longinotto

UK/India, 2012, 90 mins, Tamil language

After her documentary Pink Saris hit the screens worldwide, master documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto once again turns to India with her Salma, the story of a Muslim Indian woman who fought back against repressive traditions to find her own voice. This 90-minute film featured in the Berlin International Film Festival's Panorama section. Earlier, it competed in the World Cinema Documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Longinotto has had two previous films at Sundance: the Jury prize-winning Rough Aunties (2008) and The Day I Will Never Forget (2002). Her latest film is about Salma, living in a South Indian village. She was 13 years old when her family locked her up for 25 years, forbidding her to study and forcing her into marriage. During that time, words were Salma’s salvation. She began covertly composing poems on scraps of paper and through an intricate system, was able to sneak them out of the house, eventually getting them into the hands of a publisher. Against the odds, Salma became the most famous female poet in South India: the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village. Salma’s extraordinary story is one of courage and resilience, and Longinotto follows her on an eye-opening trip back to her village. Serving as executive producers are the project’s commissioning editors from Channel 4, Hamish Mykura and Anna Miralis.

Kim Longinotto’s career as a documentary director, producer and cinematographer began in the late ’70s, with her work tending toward sensitively handled controversial topics where women are at the forefront. Her films have screened at festivals around the world to great acclaim, from Cannes to IDFA, Hot Docs to Frameline.


Celluloid ManCelluloid Man 1

Director Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s

India, 2012 India/2012/150min/DCP

Celluloid Man is a tribute to an extraordinary man called P K Nair, the founder of the National Film Archive of India, and the guardian of Indian cinema. He built the Archive can-by-can in a country indifferent to preserving cinema. As P K speaks, we see the history of Indian cinema unfold. Even in retirement, he chooses to stay across the road from the Archive watching over his legacy. This film is also selected for 2012 Telluride. It earlier played at Il Cinema Ritrovato (Cinema Rediscovered), Italy.

Producer-director Dungarpur is a patron of the British Film Institute and a donor for the restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s silent classic The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog. He helped with the restoring of Uday Shankar’s Kalpana under the aegis of Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation that premiered in the Cannes Classic, 2012.