Saturday, May 4, 2013

CSAFF 2013 - Call for entries!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Spidermen, Sex & Sadhus – We’re Back! 

The 4th London INDIAN Film Festival Launches in July

Now Europe’s largest platform for Indian cinema London Indian Film Festival returns to the capital celebrating the exploding movement of Indian Independent cinema. The fourth annual festival will run from 18–25 July, bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of the Indian subcontinent today, in all its diversity.
The festival will stretch city wide, opening in the West End at the Cineworld Haymarket and continue at BFI Southbank, Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue, Wood Green, Wandsworth, the O2 and ICA. For the second time the festival is also teaming up with the Tate Modern.
The London Indian Film Festival also has films and events for a wide range of audiences and includes industry events at BAFTA, exploring Indian/UK co-production and specially commissioned music and performance pieces.
A diverse range of World and UK Premieres will be screened including red carpet opening and closing nights of the hottest previews. 
Irrfan Khan_2_sml_2.png
The latest confirmation is a centrepiece master class by actor Irrfan Khan, one of the very few Indians to straddle Hollywood, British and Indian cinema. Khan has come to world attention over the last 25 years with an impressive range of roles from under-dogs to action heroes, long distance runners and corporate megalomaniacs. 
His memorable film roles include Oscar winners Life of PiSlumdog Millionaire and Salaam Bombay, BAFTA winner The WarriorThe Amazing Spider-Man, and Bollywood hits Maqbooland Paan Singh Tomar. The festival will be honouring this versatile actor with a dedicated evening at the BFI Southbank on Saturday 20th July.
The London Indian Film Festival’s full programme will be released on 18 June.
We are delighted to announce that our major sponsors this year will include O2 International Sim, and the festival is also grant supported for the first time with Lottery funding through the BFI’s Film Festival Fund.
Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director says:
“It’s great to be working on the zeitgeist of new Indian cinema and we aren’t just showing Indian films for Indian
audiences, but kicking open the door to the rich diversity of independent cinema emerging across the Indian
subcontinent today. These films are accessible to everyone! It’s also exciting to see some of the best of the
filmmakers we have helped champion, now starting to be recognised on the world stage, where they belong. We
are very proud to be showcasing these new films here, first, in London, surely the world’s number one city of
culture, style and innovation”.

For more information on the festival please visit:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist is releasing in India on May 17 !

Read New York based journalist Vibhuti Patel's article on the film.

An Indian Filmmaker Engages Contemporary Pakistan by Vibhuti Patel

Mira Nair is a risk-taker. The Indian director's 1988 Oscar-nominated feature debut, "Salaam Bombay," examined the lives of Bombay's street kids and prostitutes; 1996's "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love" was inspired by the non-narrative sex manual. She's proven a deft interpreter of literature, from Jhumpa Lahiri's novel "The Namesake" (2006) to William Thackeray's classic "Vanity Fair" (2004). And her bittersweet bicultural romances—"Mississipi Masala" (1991), "Monsoon Wedding" (2001)—challenged traditional values.

Filmmaker Mira Nair in her Manhattan apartment.

Her new film, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," about a young Pakistani man, Changez (Riz Ahmed), whose success on Wall Street is derailed in the wake of 9/11, shares something with each of those movies: Based on the 2007 bestseller by Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid, its subject is political and controversial, and inspired by a seemingly uncinematic literary monologue that focuses on the bicultural Pakistani-American equation.

Ms. Nair in Delhi on the set of her new film, 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist,' with star Riz Ahmed (left) and cinematographer Declan Quinn (center).

The film opens in New York on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival, followed by a theatrical release on Friday. Over chai in her spacious Riverside apartment, Ms. Nair, who is 55, discussed the film with The Wall Street Journal.

What led you, an Indian artist, to make this film about Pakistan?
Without my knowing it, this world had nourished me culturally. My father grew up in pre-partition Lahore, so I was raised Lahori in India, speaking Urdu, knowing Faiz's poetry, listening to Iqbal Bano's songs. As a child of modern India, I'd made a moving journey to Pakistan in 2004, when I was invited to speak because my films are popular there. We were treated like rock stars. The warmth, the refinement, the expression of the arts—music, painting—was dazzling. I'd stepped into a familiar culture and was inspired to make a  tale of contemporary Pakistan. Six months later, Mohsin's book gave me the opportunity to show a Pakistan you never see in newspapers. Its dialogue with America was appealing because we don't see issues from two sides; it's always a monologue, never a conversation.

The novel is structured as a recollective monologue. You've added characters and changed the end. Was that for cinema purposes?
We haven't altered the spirit of the novel. The film is indebted to the tightrope that the protagonist walks in the novel. We don't know who Changez is. That propelled the screenwriting: What kind of fundamentalist is he? I wanted the Pakistani family to be real human characters. I changed the brother into a sister because "Muslim" movies are about men, but in Pakistan women are the heartbeat of every gathering. They're bawdy, strong, opinionated, beautiful. So I wanted a female—and made her a Bond-chick in Pakistan TV's longest-running comedy. We added a third act: In the novel, Changez returns to Pakistan. I wanted to know what he'd be doing there such that an American wants to talk to him. That makes the film timely, not dated. The world's changed: Osama was killed—before our eyes—and the CIA's Raymond Davis went shooting in Pakistani streets. These were uncanny happenings.

There are three screenwriters credited. Why so many?
I wanted a dialogue, an unpredictable meeting of equals, between Changez and Bobby, the American. Calling Hollywood A-listers, I was amazed by their ignorance [of Pakistan] and arrogance, so I picked Mohsin and Ami Boghani to write the first draft. We three did the second draft, about Pakistani life, in Lahore. Then I found Bill Wheeler to tie the skeins together. The four of us huddled together and mapped it out collaboratively before Bill rewrote it. Bill was humble about what he didn't know and very good at what he knew.

Were there logistical problems in filming in three continents?
That's the beauty of production. We shot "Istanbul" in one 18-hour day in an old Delhi orphanage. Only the exteriors were shot in Turkey. The Lahore scenes were shot over 20 days in Old Delhi—the tea house built in a 16th-century structure—with four days in Lahore's streets. New York interiors were shot in Atlanta, which gives a 40% tax rebate, with only four days in New York. We hired 150 Filipinos, put them in hard hats and made a Philippine factory in hi-tech Noida, outside Delhi. I didn't want to sacrifice the globalization—the film's about the divided self in this era: Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going? Where will you matter? These are the questions today. I didn't want to reduce that scope. I worked with my old team, hired local crews, shot digitally. Knowing how to cut costs comes with experience.

The film contrasts Wall Street's corporate culture with the old-world refinement of middle-class Pakistanis.
It was important to portray both sides with the same complexity and love. Middle-class Pakistani cultural life is what I've seen, what I know—they're not all screaming faceless mullahs. It's disturbing that in American films, the character on the other side is not even named. The first time I saw a flesh-and-blood "other" was in "The Killing Fields." We see the valiant fight for democracy but not where the men went to war or what they did to the people there. When you don't humanize the "other," schisms get cemented. These are two worlds I know intimately and love. I wanted to shine the light on the commonality between the American and the Pakistani.

After 9/11, ordinary Muslims faced discrimination, and many were deported. Are you speaking up for them?
Every film is a political act, it's how you see the world. I'm not raising the flag but holding a mirror to make a tapestry that will affect you, so you put yourself in Changez's shoes and experience what is common for anyone who is considered the "other." And there are many of us who are.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The 7th Abu Dhabi Film Festival announces its call for entries.

Abu Dhabi, UAE — April 29, 2013

The Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) has opened its call for entries for the seventh edition of the Festival, to be held October 24 – November 2, 2013. Entries will be accepted until 
July 15, 2013. The Festival is powered by twofour54 Abu Dhabi.

ADFF promotes appreciation and understanding of the art of cinema amongst its enthusiastic multicultural audiences. It brings to Abu Dhabi the most outstanding films from around the world.

The Festival welcomes feature length or short narrative and documentary films from all over the world for its variety of competitive and non-competitive sections:

Narrative Competition - An international selection of feature-length fiction films.

Documentary Competition - An international selection of non-fiction feature-length films.

New Horizons Competition - An international selection of first and second feature-length narrative films.

Short Films Competition - An international selection of narrative and documentary short films.

Emirates Film Competition - devoted to short films from the UAE and GCC countries, this section presents some of the Gulf’s leading filmmaking talent with an array of awards aimed at helping to support the continued development of the local film industry.

Showcase - A panorama of outstanding recent narrative and documentary features. Films in Showcase are eligible for the Audience Choice Award.

Our World - A panorama of incisive cutting edge films that raise awareness of environmental and/or social related issues.

Special Programs - Restorations and retrospectives, as well as specially curated programs and presentations focusing on exciting developments and trends in filmmaking around the world.

Films submitted to the festival should have had their first public screening after November 1st, 2012 and should not have any public screening in the Middle East before the screening at ADFF.

ADFF honors exceptional achievements in film with the Black Pearl Awards and with significant cash prizes. Prizes can often facilitate future projects from outstanding talents from around the globe.

Complete information regarding eligibility is available at

SANAD, the development and post-production fund of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, is also accepting applications for second cycle grants from June 1 until July 1, 2013. Full information is available at

For questions regarding entries email or call +971 2 401 1906.
About twofour54

twofour54, the commercial arm of the Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi, is one of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s leading media and entertainment hubs. As part of its mission, twofour54 is driving the development of the creative industries in the region, supporting talent and content development initiatives, creativity and young entrepreneurs.

Its initiatives are contributing to the growth and diversity of the Abu Dhabi economy and its campus is home to over 200 local, regional and international companies, including Ubisoft, Cartoon Network, Sky News Arabia, CNN, BBC, Flash Entertainment, Sport 360, Reed Exhibitions, Charisma, Tahadi and Jawaker.

twofour54 provides a range of services including: training across all media sectors; business development and funding support to UAE nationals and other Arabs with great ideas; a creativity lab that allows members to get involved in creative projects; and it facilitates world-class content through its production and post-production facilities. These services are supported by tawasol, facilitating easy business set-up and providing ongoing support services.
twofour54 powers the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Media Summit and TROFPEST Arabia each year to drive the development of a vibrant film and entertainment industry.

About the Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi

The Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi was established in 2007 with a mandate to support and sustain the development of Arab-focused media and digital creative businesses, positioning Abu Dhabi as a regional centre of excellence across all media platforms.

To achieve this, the Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi is creating and sustaining a media and digital creative hub in Abu Dhabi, with clear strategies and initiatives to develop UAE nationals into media industry professionals. It encourages foreign direct investment through 100% non-UAE business ownership, has a world class entrepreneurially friendly company regulatory structure creating private sector jobs, and drives the development of the region’s media and entertainment industry through its clear content regulatory environment which is unique in the region.

Read the New York based journalist Vibhuti Patel’s article
in the U.S. edition   of  The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2013

Raising Rushdie's 'Children' on Film By Vibhuti Patel

Filmmaker Deepa Mehta with actors Satya Bhabha and Siddharth on the set of 'Midnight's Children.'

In 1981, Salman Rushdie's debut novel, "Midnight's Children," fractured English, making it literarily an Indian language, and opened the floodgates for young subcontinental writers. Winner of not one but three Booker Prizes, its magical-realistic tale of Saleem Sinai, a boy born at the moment of India's Independence who becomes "handcuffed to history," spans 533 colorful pages—too long and fantastical to be adapted for the cinema. Until now. In 2008, the Indian-born, Toronto-based filmmaker Deepa Mehta bought the rights from Mr. Rushdie for one dollar, then got the novelist to write the script—his first produced screenplay.

Ms. Mehta is best known for her acclaimed Elements Trilogy—1996's "Fire," 1998's "Earth" and 2005's Oscar-nominated "Water" (about India's child widows)—which faced political opposition in India: Theaters showing "Fire" were burned for its depiction of lesbians, and the government subsequently banned the filming of "Water." Recently Ms. Mehta, who is 62, discussed making "Midnight's Children," which arrives in theaters on Friday.

What attracted you to "Midnight's Children"?
I love the book, it's cinematic. Rushdie's strong women attracted me—the grandmother, the mother, the nanny and Indira Gandhi, who turned democracy upside down.
The novel is an epic four-generation family saga, framed in the history of independent India and the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh. How did you concentrate all that into one film?

Rushdie and I concentrated on Saleem Sinai's journey, his search for identity, family, home. That's real for us as immigrants: Can we have families who are not our bloodline, for whom "Love is not born, it's made"? These are relevant questions today. Since Saleem and India were born in the same instant, it's our motherland's story, too.

Ms. Mehta in New York.

Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Rushdie isn't a screenwriter. Why ask him to write the script?
He didn't want to do it. I insisted. He'd adapted it into an amazing teleplay which never materialized. There's distance—the novel's 30 years old. Besides, who else would be as disrespectful to his work?

How was it working with him?
We had our disagreements, but he's very generous. We both wanted to make the best film possible. We learned a lot when I got over feeling, "It's Rushdie, how to tell him this isn't working?" Comparing our first, separately charted narrative flows, we found we'd made near-identical cuts.

You used India's fourth-century dramaturgical treatise, "Natya Shastra," to prepare the cast?
Its credo of the nine rasas [emotions] works with actors. I create a rasabox, a grid of anger, fear, wonder, love, etc., on the ground. Walking around it, an actor says his line with the rasa of the box he's in. The exercises shake things up by tapping into complex emotions. They're liberating. The Natya Shastra is used routinely in Indian classical arts—dance, theater.

Why did you shoot in Sri Lanka?
We filmed in Indian cities but there's little left of the '20s, '30s or '40s in modern India. Pakistan has security problems. Sri Lanka, where I'd shot "Water," is in a timewarp—a tropical country with colonial houses, boulevards, palm trees and ocean make it resemble old Bombay. Its people look subcontinental.

Is it true that Iran tried to stop the making of the film?
Sri Lanka's president gave us permission to film. Halfway through, the film board revoked it because the Iranian foreign ministry protested. With the shooting halted, our 150-strong crew idled; every day cost $100,000. The principal actors' tight schedules caused concern. Fortunately, the [Sri Lankan] president refused to be bullied.

Mr. Rushdie has said the film owes much to Canada. How did your government help?
I love Canada. If India gives me the inspiration for my ideas, Canada gives me the freedom to express them. You can't have one without the other, you can't have a film that's not seen. I had that problem famously in India with "Water" and "Fire." They were deemed "against Indian ethics." Canada believed in "Midnight's Children" and financed it. Our ambassador was amazingly helpful, hiding everything we'd shot for protection. It's a Canadian film so they intervened with Iran, too.

The film features many animals that aren't in the book.
They're a metaphor for beings that don't look like us, languages that we don't understand. The geese, the lizard, the buffalo, the cobras were symbols. Picture Singh [who plays a snake-charmer] is terrified of snakes in real life. But actors are amazing—you say "action!" and he loves them. The moment you say, "cut," he runs away. Two snakes escaped forever, a mahout disappeared with his elephant. Cockroaches, symbolic of time passing in prison, could not be "trained," so we worked with ants.

Was that the biggest challenge in filming the book?
The challenge was not magic realism or using animals, the novel's epic nature or the history. It was getting performances that are true and moving. Will we fall in love with this family? Will we understand the sweetness of this decent human being looking for a life of dignity, in an era when people are into macho heros? Saleem's vulnerability is beautiful, his antithesis is Shiva—strong, passionate, dark. As a filmmaker, I had to make those characters believable.