Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ten Years This Year!

Indian Film Festival Stuttgart
July 17 to 21, 2013

In celebration of Stuttgart’s Tenth Year 

Uma da Cunha’s daily diary ...
Day Four

The day begins with an apology on my earlier writing regarding Hansal Mehta’s remarkable film, SHAHID, in which the first name of the film’s fine lead actor has been misspelt – and he is among the foremost in the new young talents emerging on the Indian screen. This is Raj Kumar Yadav –  and I ask for his pardon in particular.

As Sunday closing night, approaches, festival goers speculate on who the award winners are.  They will be invited one by one by one on stage to collect their plaques - it is on this night that the different juries become visible as the audience reacts to their choices.

The Feature Film Jury
Joel Farges and Revathy
This jury will give the highest award of the festival – the German Star of India for Best Feature Film which carries a cash prize of 4000 Euros. The jury for 2013 comprises  Indian actress and director Revathy, German screen-writer and Professor Jorn Precht and Axel Ruble, the India expert of Suddeutsche, largest national subscription newspaper in Germany.

The Documentary Jury
This 3-member jury comprises the editor and representative of the European cultural channel ARTE, Dr Gudrun Hanke El Ghomri, the French screenwriter, producer, director Joel Farges and German producer and line producer, Wolfgang Kerber
Alexandra Schott and Selvaggia Velo

Short Film Jury
The 3 members on this jury are  director Andreas Dahn, CEO and Producer  Christoph Holthof-Keim  and  Selvaggia Velo, the director of the River to River Indian Film Festival, Florence.

The Director’s Vision Award
In 2009, the festival introduced its Director’s Vision Award for an exceptional film which is marked by unusual and issue-based, humanitarian content.

Still from Chokherbali

Homage to Rituparno Ghosh
To honour the prodigious talent and work of the gifted director, screenwriter, actor Rituparno Ghosh, who passed away tragically recently, and the festival screened his well-known film Chokherbali to an appreciative audience.

Screening films by Jury members
Jury member for documentaries, Joel Farges, presented his most recent documentary, Alexandra David Neel, In The Land Of The Snows. This austere and deeply moving film on the remarkable Buddhist devotee who made it her mission to embark on an arduous and hazardous journey to Sikkim and then onwards to even more life-threatening territory to be the first European woman to be granted an audience by the highest religious leader in Tibet. The film had a spell-bound audience many of whom were familiar with the subject.

Revathy’s most recent film as an actress was also screened, with the unusual title for a Tamil film, Aunty Molly Rocks!.  This film is also a welcome change from the charged, emotional roles that this intense actress portrays . Here she shows her range as a performer, taking in her stride a comedic caper as breezy, outspoken working woman who lives in the US and is on a brief trip to her home town in India – and faces sudden hindrances that she finds hard to accept.

Friday, July 19, 2013

10 Years in 2013!

Indian Film Festival Stuttgart
July 17 to 21, 2013

In celebration of Stuttgart’s Tenth Year
Uma da Cunha’s daily diary
Day 3

The shorts and documentaries shown at this festival are a highlight and a major draw– the attendance is impressive. They come from India and other parts of the world and are on serious and important topics. The people here want to know more about India and its many facets of life and surprisingly are well informed about the country – many having travelled to India more than once.

The Shorts programme of two hours started with the 20 minute film Bawdi (The Well) and the director Vivek Soni was present. This was Soni’s final year diploma film made as a student at Whistling Woods. The film is set in the parched landscape of Rajasthan. It balances a gentle but doomed love story losing out to the ruthless power of a multinational company. The company in this instance is Coca Cola which is encroaching on the land and assets of a small village, eroding its means of employment and deploying its meager water resources. The film tells its story without anger or indictment, and looks benignly at a young couple in love being torn apart by forces they can in no way combat.  Soni is looking for other festivals which could increase the chances of his selling the film. The avenues open to short films are perhaps the most limited and difficult to reach.

Golden Mango

Another student film shown was Golden Mango, which premiered at Berlin earlier in the year, directed by Govinda Raju, on a small boy’s yearning to taste a mango being appeased by his listening to a fantasy story.

The documentary section opened with the much-talked about 80 minute film Powerless, an ingenious and sardonically unfolding of petty thievery around electric cables in Kanpur. One main marauder is the one casually diverting electricity from one home to another. The lack of electric power and the rampant illegal measures taken by citizens effects political leaders, the state regulatory bodies, the police and the hapless bystanders. Directors Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar have won laurels for this film at many festivals – and the film happily may find a release soon in India.

The World Before Her
The impressive list of issue-based feature-length docs being shown here are wide-ranging. Canada-based Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her juxtaposes the beauty camp for a woman’s boot camp for combat training, with both groups zealously working to achieve their widely diverse goals. The list of shorts and docs shown in the festival is given below.

Tea Talks

An integral part of the programme are the afternoon "tea talks" on India. These are held in German and they are meant to inform the local audience about intricacies of Indian life and culture. A different panel of academics – historians, writers, filmmakers – address the audience every day over tea and discussion on a select topic that relates to India.

In Competition:

Short Films
Vivek Soni’s Bawdi – The Well
Sumit Vanjari’s Umbartha
Parthiban Shanmugam’s A Letter to a Terrorist
Raam Reddy’s Ika – Feather  
Samvida Nanda’s 2B or not 2B
Andrea Iannetta’s Allah is Great
Vasudev Keluskar’s Tatpaschat - And after that
Vikram Dasgupta’s Calcutta Taxi  
Shaheen Muhammed’s Rabiya
Sonia & Miriam Albert Sobrino’s Recurrence
Khanjan Kishore Nath’s Saknoia - The River Flows 

Fahad Mustafa, Deepti Kakkar’s Powerless
Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her
Rudradeep Bhattacharjee’s The Human Factor
Steve Hoover’s Blood Brother
Dheeraj Akolkar’s Liv & Ingmar
Geetika Narang Abbasi, Anandana Kapur’s Much Ado About Knotting
Kim Longinotto’s Salma

Thursday, July 18, 2013

10 Years in 2013!

Indian Film Festival Stuttgart
July 17 to 21, 2013

In celebration of Stuttgart’s Tenth Year
Uma da Cunha’s daily diary

First, flashback to last night’s opening: The festival’s old-world and gracious venue, Metropol Cinema, was abuzz with lilting Indian and snappy Bollywood numbers pepping up its red carpet scene outside. And in its foyer, Stuttgart’s film loving public wore their glittering Indian outfits and baubles to add colour.

Stuttgart’s civic leaders including the Mayor and also the festival’s main sponsor Mr Andrew Lapp spoke glowingly of the festival’s importance to their city.  It was a pleasant and rewarding surprise to find festival director Oliver Mahn calling and honouring both Mr Lapp alongside me on stage for being with the festival for all its ten years. We both were given plaques and special Stuttgart cakes to savour the occasion. Nawazuddin Siddiqui drew prolonged applause for his performance and showers of praise – as wild as audience members saying he could be a villain to James Bond while another shouted that he play Bond himself.

Day 2
Raj Kumar Yadav in 'Shahid'
The festival settled down to its serious side, starting in the morning to a screening of Hansal Mehta’s gripping film Shahid – on the lawyer and human right’s activist Shahid Azmi who was shot in his office in Mumbai in 2010 – he was 32 years old. The film has moved and involved appreciative audiences at the Toronto festivals where it premiered last year and several festival venues thereafter.

Shahid will soon open commercially in India.

The screening today was for senior school students of the city and there was a Q and A after with the director, Hansal Mehta, lead actor Raj Kumar Yadav and his –co-actor in the film, Vipin Sharma. The questions posed by the teenagers were both probing and perceptive. Here are some highlights of this session ...

Director Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta – The Censors in India have given this film a rating that permits it to be shown to people of 15 years and over. I feel this film can and should be seen by even younger people because it is about how we – the common people –can become aware and make changes in our internal and social thinking . We expect the government to make changes but in fact it is we, the people, who should do so.

When asked if he film had adverse reactions from right wing people because of the its communal aspects, the director answered – “The film has been widely appreciated. It does not point fingers at persons or communities. All over the world there are aspects of injustice and a growing intolerance which we need to be aware of and fight back in some way. This film is about that universal need in today’s world”.

When asked why he started with the death of the main protagonist, his reply was, “I did not want to use the real-life death of this remarkable man as a mounting dramatic effect. By starting with it, the audience was prepared with this fact. My film was not about his death but about his life. I wanted to take his work forward. The film has achieved what it sets out to do beyond my expectations.”

Director Mehta talked about the choice of his lead actor. “The actors I looked at wanted to push the role for drama and heightened effect – and use the court scenes for winning awards. Raj Kumar Yadav was the only actor who understood the man as he was in real life. This film would not be here with this actor playing that role.”

When Raj Kumar Yadav was asked what the role meant to him: Like most people I had not heard of Shahid Azmi but when told about him, I studied his life intently – met his brothers, his family, spent a lot of time at the courts in Mumbai and see how a lawyer works. Our courts are nothing like what is shown in Bollywood films. I saw the humour and daily life in the courts. I studied Shahid internally and played him the way I felt about him. There are only 3 or 4 roles an actor can remember and cherish in his life time – and for me this is surely one of them.

Co-actor Vipin Sharma plays an unsympathetic judge in the film. He said, “I believed in the man the film portrays as the powerful thinker and activist he was. But I had to say the opposite in the film, which an actor has to do. However, my family has seen the blood bath when India was partitioned – I was a ten year old then. I was also living in Berlin in the historic year when the country ceased to be East and West. I have felt the troubled times we are in. For me this film is deeply personal and important.”

There is no doubt that the second screening in Stuttgart of Shahid will draw a full house – as it hopefully will in its screenings when released on home ground .
Competition films at Stuttgart
Feature Films
Hansal Mehta’s Shahid
Suman Ghosh’s Shyamlal Uncle Turns Off The Lights
Anwar Rasheed’s Ustad Hotel
Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s Life is Good!
Sanjeev Sivan’s Venal Odungathe - Endless Summer
Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan
Ratnakar Matkari’s Investment
S.S. Rajamouli’s Eega
Abhinav Shiv Tiwari’s Oass-The Dew Drop
Ravi Jadhav’s Balak Palak

Fahad Mustafa, Deepti Kakkar’s Powerless
Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her
Rudradeep Bhattacharjee’s The Human Factor
Steve Hoover’s Blood Brother
Dheeraj Akolkar’s Liv & Ingmar
Geetika Narang Abbasi, Anandana Kapur’s Much Ado About Knotting
Kim Longinotto’s Salma

Short Films
Vivek Soni’s Bawdi – The Well
Sumit Vanjari’s Umbartha
Parthiban Shanmugam’s A Letter to a Terrorist
Raam Reddy’s Ika – Feather  
Samvida Nanda’s 2B or not 2B
Andrea Iannetta’s Allah is Great
Vasudev Keluskar’s Tatpaschat - And after that
Vikram Dasgupta’s Calcutta Taxi  
Shaheen Muhammed’s Rabiya
Sonia & Miriam Albert Sobrino’s Recurrence
Khanjan Kishore Nath’s Saknoia - The River Flows 

Kerala's call for entries!

The 18th International Film Festival of Kerala will run from December 6 to 13, 2013.

Send your entries now!

The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), recognized by FIAPF, is one of the most important festivals in India which showcases Asian, Latin American, Arab and African Cinema.

The festival runs for one week and showcases the best films from around the world. This festival has one of the largest audiences in India. The audience and the presence of the International media and film festival directors from all over the world make it a rare and important experience.

The festival has a Competition Section for films from Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as an Official World Section.

There is an International Jury and their awards carry very attractive cash prizes.
Please use the below link to know the rules and regulations and for registering your film online. 

Do participate by registering online and sending in a screener of your film for selection.

The director of the selected film will be given hospitality to attend the festival and present their films.

Registration will be closed by 10th September 2013 at 5pm.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

10 Years Today!

In celebration of Stuttgart’s Tenth Year ...

Indian Film Festival Stuttgart
July 17 to 21, 2013

Uma da Cunha’s daily diary begins today

Day One

Catching a late night Lufthansa flight Mumbai to Stuttgart for the opening day turned out to be a celebration in itself, as the flight had ten key film delegates from India heading in the same direction for the same purpose. This year is special because of Stuttgart's Indian Film Festival's wide-ranging programme screening high quality films and demonstrating the talent they are imbued with.

The beginnings ...

Opening Star -
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
It was sometime in 2003 that Oliver Mahn, the director of the Stuttgart Indian Film Festival got in touch with me with the idea of starting an exclusively Indian film festival. And Stuttgart at that time was one of the innovators of this novel idea – with just a couple of others who had tentatively ventured to do so on the world scene. Oliver contacted me then to help as Founder and Advisor on programming.  We worked over that year in putting the concept of the festival together. The festival, which was titled Bollywood and Beyond at that time opened in July 2004. It has grown steadily since and consolidated itself – with Oliver Mahn still at the helm and a small devoted team helping – led by Elisa Melzer as Programmer. I have stayed with the festival ever since, happy to belong.

Stuttgart’s presentation of films from India is possible because of one man backing the festival from the time of its inception. And he is Andreas Lapp, chairman of Lapp Holding AG based in Stuttgart. He is also the Honorary Consul of the Republic of India for the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. The festival reflects the thought and spirit behind Stuttgart and Mumbai joining together as twin cities in a partnership that came into being in March 1968.

It was two years ago that the festival changed its name to Stuttgart Indian Film Festival because by then its faithful followers had demonstrated how much  they really liked the ‘ Beyond’ films because of their varied stories and deep insights into the country’s rich canvas – although the Germans love for Bollywood makes that genre viable as well.  

Poster of "Bombay Talkies"
The festival celebrates both recent feature films as well innovative documentaries and shorts. It offers cash prizes for the winning film in each of these categories, the major award being (which comes with 4000 Euro cash award) for the Best Feature Film.

Well, here we all are gathered together in one hotel and will collect together again later in the evening for the grand red carpet opening film, Bombay Talkies.To represent the film on stage is none other than Nawazuddin Siddiqui, accompanied by Sanjay Ram of the production company, Flying Unicorn Entertainment.

Winners over ten years at the Indian Film Festival, Stuttgart

2004: Khamosh Pani – Silent Water by Sabiha Sumar, Best Feature Film
2005: Hari Om by Bharat Bala, Best Feature Film
2006: Mixed Doubles by Rajat Kapoor, Best Feature Film
2007: Apna Asmaan by Kaushik Roy, Best Feature Film
Q2P by Paromita Vohra, Best Documentary
Spandan – The Heart Beat’ by Saillesh Dupaare, Best Short Film
Outsource by John Jeffcoat, Audience Award
2008: Amal by Richie Mehta, Best Feature Film
It’s a Boy by Vani Subramanian, Best Documentary
Blood Brothers by Vishal Bhardwaj, Best Short Film
Ore Kadal by Shyamaprasad, Audience Award
2009: Tahaan by Santosh Sivan, Best Feature Film
Gabhricha Paus by Satish Manwar, Special Mention, Feature Film
Narmeen by Dipti Gogna, Best Short Film
Supermen of Malegaon by Faiza Ahmad Khan, Documentary
Seven Days in Slow Motion by Umakanth Thumrugoti, Audience Award
Red Alert by Anant Mahadevan, Director's Vision Award
2010: Vihir – The Well by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni, Best Feature Film
The Great Indian Jugaad by Anandana Kapur, Best Documentary
Tanko Bole Chhe – The Stitches Speak by Nina Sabnani, Best Short and Animated Film
Road to Sangam by Amit Rai, Director’s Vision Award
Today’s Special by David Kaplan, Audience Award
2011: Udaan by Vikramaditya Motwane, Best Feature Film
It’s Cricket, no? by Sudhir Aggarwal, Best Documentary
Tubelight Ka Chaand by Shlok Sharma, Best Short Film
Arranged Happiness by Daniela Dar-Creutz, Director’s Vision Award
Big in Bollywood by Kenny Meehan und Bill Bowles, Audience Award
2012: Kshay by Karan Gour, Best Feature Film
Café Regular, Kairo by Ritesh Batra, Best Short Film
The Market by Rama Rau, Best Documentary
Shala by Sujay S. Dahake and ‚Delhi in a Day’ by Prashant Nair, Director’s Vision Award
Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey by Wendy J. N. Lee, Audience Award

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Get ready for the 43th IFFI!

iffiThe 43rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will be held in Goa from November 20 – 30, 2013.

Call for Entries

Deadline for submission of entries is August 31, 2013.

The festival features an International Competition for Feature films with a minimum duration of 70 minutes and above. Upto three Indian Films will be selected for this section. The films must be subtitled in English and must have been completed between 1st September 2012 and 31st August 2013. Except for Indian films, the entries in this section should not have been released/ shown in India or presented in any other Indian Film Festivals before.

Other films will be presented in Non Competitive section for feature films from around the world.

There will be Retrospectives, Tributes, Country Focus & other Specially curated packages.

The Indian Panorama section will feature Indian feature films censored between 01 September 2012 – 31 August 2013.

The Festival is organized by the IFFI Secretariat for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India in collaboration with the State Government of Goa.

To enter your film for IFFI 2013, click here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

            Do you have a script in development? 

Scriptwriters, look out for PrimePitch!
The first  cross-continental pitching contest 
for feature film projects that are in development

PRIMEHOUSE, the organizers of PRIMEXCHANGE Europe-India, and POCKET FILMS, India’s leading aggregator and distributor for alternative content, have launched PRIMEPITCH, the first Europe-India cross-continental pitching contest for feature film projects in development.

The Prime Pitch tie-up has been evolved and finalized jointly by Frank Stehling, CEO of Primehouse and Saameer Mody, MD of  Pocket Films

The Procedure
Producers are invited to submit a 2-minute visual pitch for a feature length project that demonstrates the potential to attract both European and Indian audiences. The winner will be invited to participate in PRIMEXCHANGE 2013, the established co-production workshop for Europe and India, that takes place during Film Bazzar organised by NFDC. 

PRIMEPITCH, a crowd-voting based initiative, provides a platform to create momentum around feature film projects in advanced stages of development, across continents and cultures. 

PRIMEPITCH is a valuable tool to help build a community and encourage crowd participation from the start - to an online audience as well as talent, funders, sales agents and more.

Now in its fifth year, the PRIMEXCHANGE Workshop is a co-production initiative that provides a forum for independent European and Indian producers to engage in an open and collaborative environment, using a fully integrated approach to further develop and finance film projects. This comprehensive program offers a multi-dimensional analysis of the project’s potential in European and Indian markets, with practical implementation and advice for reaching these markets. 

Pocket Films is India’s leading distributors of short films, independent films, animation films and documentaries and encourages independent, upcoming and student film makers.

PRIMEXCHANGE 2013, supported by the European Commission (Media Mundus), will be held at 18 - 24 November under the banner of Film Bazaar Goa in India.  Film Bazaar is organised by the National Film and Development Corporation (NFDC) and is held each year at the end of November since 2006.  Its aim is to facilitate sales of world cinema in South Asia, and to promote India cinema internationally.

Visit for more details
or contact .

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Indian docs shine at Durban fest!

34th  Durban International Film Festival
July 18-28, 2013.

The documentary Algorithm by Bangalore-based filmmaker Ian McDonald will premiere at the
34th Durban International Film Festival.  Also screening is the celebrated film, Salma, by
Kim Longinotto

Algorithm ventures into the lives of three blind chess players who challenge far more than their opponents, but further, stand as a challenge to the ocular-centric world, as we witness their blindness emerging as a difference rather than a disability.

Salma chronicles the life of famous Tamil poet Salma, 
who at the age of 13,  was locked up by her family for 25 years, 
forbidden from studying, and forced into an arranged marriage.

In addition, the short film Under the Pillow ( Bajo La Almohada) directed by Isabel Herguera - is programmed. The film is an animated documentary that allows the voices and drawings of a group of children who live in a clinic in India to tell us about some of the treasures and dreams they keep hidden under their pillows.

And the short film, Vanishing Point directed by Abhijit Mazumdar, tells the story of two friends and filmmakers, Aurko and Sachin, as they venture into rural Maharashtra looking for an old bus stop.

The feature films being screened at the 34th Durban are ...

Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely
Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout
Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children.