Friday, August 2, 2013

Indian doc makes a mark at Durban!


The 8th Durban International Festival
July 18 to 28, 2013

The feature-length documentary Algorithms received Special Mention in the Best Documentary category at the recently concluded Durban International Film Festival. Of the 8 Indian films shown,Algorithms was the only Indian film to receive an honour.
(Four Moves In,  We Are All Blind)
Director/DOP Ian McDonald
Produced by AkamPuram
India, 2012, HDV, B&W, 110 mins, English, Hindi, Tamil, Odiya
Algorithms is on the thriving but little known world of Blind Chess in India.  Filmed over three years, from just before the World Junior Blind Chess Championship in Sweden in 2009 to just after the next championship in Greece in 2011. It follows three talented boys from different parts of India and a totally blind player turned pioneer who not only aims to situate India on a global stage but also wants all blind children to play chess. The music is by Prasanna, sound by Harikumar N and editing by Ajithkumar B, Ian McDonald and  Geetha J.
Ian McDonald is a sport sociologist and documentary filmmaker. His filmic approach  benefits from a seemingly effortless ‘way of seeing’ that has resulted in documentaries with a difference on art and sport - especially of the ‘sporting outsider’ - the one who is seen as ‘different’ by a ‘normal’ society. His filmography includes  Inside the Kalari  (2007/20mins), Brighton Bandits (2007/40mins), Shame (2009/5mins), Out of Our Hands (2009/9mins), Melancholic Constellations: The Art of William Kentridge (2010/55mins), Willem Boshoff: Reflections of a South African Artist (2010/25mins), 10-11 Pavilion Parade (2011/15mins) and Justin (2011/30mins).
Post screening Q and A

Ian McDonald (The director, cinematographer and editor) and his producer Geetha talked of the film after the screening. Here are excerpts from their discussion.
I came across a newspaper clipping about blind chess players and just out of curiosity we explored it further and discovered this emerging blind chess community.” McDonald said he and Geetha chose not to rush the filming process of the film.

This notion of ‘director’ and ‘producer’ are the terms we give in the industry.  “I don’t see myself as the director; Geetha was there all the way. It was collaboration. This wasn’t just important for the language, but for empathy and trust of the blind community. They don’t easily trust the seeing community, so a lot of the time was building that trust with them.

 We followed t
he emerging young blind chess players Darpan Inani (totally blind), SaiKrishna ST (partially blind) and Anant Kumar Nayak (totally blind) for three years in their goal to succeed at various championship tournaments in India and other parts of the world.

“I wanted to get closer… I was fascinated with blindness from the outside and how being blind represented a different way of being in the world. In a sense I was taught something fundamental about existence. “We see these players as blind, we hear from their families about how they became blind, but as you stay in the blind community the blind factor kind of fades away. The focus is on their character strengths.”
Commenting on the cinematography of Algorithms, Geetha said: “Ian is a totally intuitive cinematographer. He is able to bring a kind of imagery about chess and the world of the blind that we have never seen before.”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New dates for Ladakh International Festival

The 2ndedition of Ladakh International Film Festival (LIFF) had to be rescheduled due to the unfortunate Uttarakhand tragedy. The new dates are Sept 13th – 15th at Leh, Ladakh.

Announcing the new dates, Melwyn Williams Chirayath, Festival Director, LIFF said “We have decided to hold LIFF from Sept 13 – 15th and the festival details and program schedule remain the same as previously decided. LIFF, which was earlier scheduled in July, had to be pushed back due to the massive human tragedy at Uttarakhand. We are looking forward to a successful run of the 2nd edition of LIFF and hope our patrons and well wishers will participate with full gusto at the 3 day festival. The festival will be inaugurated by the dynamic Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Mr. Omar Abdullah. Various national and international celebrities will also be part of the unique festival”

“We are introducing the Face of LIFF contest this year, to select a deserving winner who will walk the Green Carpet at LIFF. This contest will be open till 25th August through various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, vlogs etc. The winner will be appointed as the ambassador of our popular campaign called Campaign Red. The details of the contest are outlined on our website link

About LIFF 2013:
LIFF 2013 will showcase around 120 films from across the globe. Entries were received from close to 130 countries, after which the best were selected for the final showcase. The green carpet premiere at LIFF 2013 will be Teri Mc Luhan’s brilliant documentary ‘Frontier Gandhi’, on the forgotten freedom fighter, nationalist and peace advocate Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. Also there will be a special children’s section curated by Amole Gupte courtesy Children’s Film Society of India, which will feature 6 children’s films. The Ladakhi section will include Tsering Motup Chospa’s feature film Lzadol (broken piece of moon), with its central theme of women’s strength, patience and wit against the evils of the day. 5 short films from Ladakh will also be premiered this year. In addition there will be a retrospective on Gulzaar saab by Director / Producer Vishal Bharadwaj and celebrating women through some of the finest women oriented films made in India.

The international jury for LIFF 2013 will be headed by well known actor / director Aparna Sen. The members of the jury are Paul Smaczny (Emmy winner), Vimukhti Jayasundara (Palm d’Or), Alireza Shahrokhi (Iran) and Teri McLuhan (Canada) will be the International jury members of the festival.

Partners of LIFF

Directorate of Film Festival, Children Film Society of India, Press Club of India, LAHDC, Fever, J&K Tourism, Earth Matters Foundation, SLC-IT, Live to Love, Whistling Woods, Humara Movies, Takyon, SAFF Canada, Galatta.



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

India's lone entry to 2013 Venice

KUSH - The Film to showcase
during Venice International Film Festival (August 28 to September 7)  

Student director Shubhashish Bhutiani's 20-minute film
Kush - The Film will be screened in the Orizzonti section of the 2013 Venice festival as India's only official entry. This section is  dedicated to new trends in world cinema. There are nine other films from other countries in this section.

In May this year Kush premiered at the School of Visual Arts’ Dusty Film & Animation Festival in New York. It went on to win awards for Outstanding Film, Outstanding Achievement in Directing and Outstanding Achievement in Editing at the fest. 


Kush stars Sonika Chopra, Shayaan Sameer and Anil Sharma. Bhutiani made the film for his graduation project at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He was inspired by a true story that occurred in New Delhi in 1984 during the anti-Sikh pogroms in which thousands of innocent Sikhs -- men, women and children -- were murdered in broad daylight by roving Hindu mobs on the streets of the nations capital while the police and the military either stood by or aided and abetted the mobs

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Indo-Canadian film in Venice!

Richie Mehta's Siddharth
selected for 10th edition of  Venice Days

'Venice Days' is a separate festival within the venerated Venice International Film Festival which runs alongside its duration - August 28 to September 7.  'Venice Days' line-up includes twelve feature films, two shorts, three special events and two special screenings.

Richie Mehta’s second feature Siddharth will have its premiere at the 10th edition of Venice Days Program of the Biennale at the 70th Venice International Film Festival. Mehta's debut feature film Amal (2008) made an instant impression and went on to became a festival favourite.

Siddharth, written and directed by Mehta, has a cast comprising Rajesh Tailang, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Anurag Arora, Shobha Sharma Jassi, Geeta Agarwal Sharma, Naseeruddin Shah and produced by Steven N Bray, David Miller and Mehta of  Poor Man’s Productions Ltd. "We are truly honoured to have Venice Days embrace our film,” said Mehta. “Siddharth is a story that I needed to tell, and hope will touch people's hearts. It’s deeply rewarding to see this is happening."   The film was shot in Delhi and Mumbai.

Siddharth_Poster1_SM.jpg`Siddharth is a tender story about a chain-wallah who travels across India in search of his missing son. After sending away his 12-year-old son Siddharth for work, Mahendra (a chain-wallah who fixes broken zippers on the streets) is relieved – his financial burdens will be alleviated. But when Siddharth fails to return home, Mahendra learns he may have been taken by child-traffickers. With little resources and no connections, he travels across India in pursuit, with the hope that whatever force arbitrarily took his child away will return him unharmed.

The director
Richie Mehta (born in Mississauga, Ontario) is a Canadian film director. His first feature film Amal has won over 30 international awards, and was nominated for 6 Genie awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Mehta has also directed several short films, included All Roads Lead to Here, System of Units, and the short film Amal. His shorts have screened and won prizes at festivals all over the world, including Telluride, Worldwide Short, Palm Springs, and the United Nations. Trained as a painter and sculptor, Mehta attended the University of Toronto’s Art and Art History and Cinema Studies program and Sheridan College's Advanced Television and Film program. He's been mentored by directors such as Wim Wenders, Shekhar Kapur and Brian DePalma.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kannada film wins LIFF Audience Award!


4th London Indian Film Festival’s Audience Award
goes to Lucia

... made through crowd-funding!

The London Indian Film Festival gives only one award, which is measured by the votes collected for all films from its respective audiences. The 2013 Audience Award went to Pawan Kumar for his film  Lucia - his second following the success of his debut work, Lifue Ishtene.

Lucia also has the distinction of making the neglected Kannada film become viable once again on screens and at film festivals. So far, it is only veteran master Girish Kasarvalli who has kept the Kannada film visible at film festivals.

Director Pawan Kumar says, “On Feb 24, 2012, we decided to go public with the making of the film . We invited our audience to chip in funds and become producers for the film, and they came in big numbers and Rupees 51 lakhs was raised in just 27 days. The project became a reality with no producer/star but just with the help of the audiences who wanted a change. British Council awarded us with International recognition for initiating this project.. Our vision – To bring back the dignity in making and watching a Kannada movie.”  He adds, "Can’t a Kannada film  speak of contemporary stories and personal disturbances of today’s times? Is there really no educated Kannada audience as it is believed in the industry? This is an attempt to find those audiences”. Pawan Kumar seems to have achieved his goal with his latest film.

Lucia - the synopsis
An usher at a decrepit cinema suffers from insomnia. A chance exchange  causes weird and wonderful dreams but with a caveat. Set in the teeming young metropolis that is Bangalore, the film is a turbulent ride where the lines between drams and reality are blurred to delirious effect. The film features actors Sathish, Shruthi Hariharan, Hardhika Shetty and Achyuth Kumar.
The  director
Bangalore-based Pawan Kumar has been deeply involved in theatre from the year 1998, During these years, he has also attended innumerable workshops and short-term training programs to gain and polish his skills. He says, “These workshops not only helped me develop my own form of theatre, but also gave me the courage to experiment my thoughts and feelings theatrically and to confidently present it to an audience.”