Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Finally, Someone Is Listening

Wed Feb 12, 2014

MUMBAI:Probing, interpreting, denouncing – the documentary is now more and more a part of our viewing lives. This was a proposition posed by the just concluded Mumbai festival of documentary, short and animated films, MIFF.

There was much to enlighten and captivate, alongside a bit of a breakthrough, commercial release of the international award winner ‘Fire in the Blood’ directed by Dylan Mohan Gray. It traces malpractice in the life-and-death, yet money-making, business of pharmaceuticals. Now, actor actor Soham Shah, through Recyclewala Labs, will release Nishta Jain’s acclaimed “Gulabi Gang”, on the fiery small-town feminist, Sampat Pal.

The time may be at hand when multiplexes will be a forum for documentaries, these illuminating, often riveting films, offered over the lean lunch hour at reduced rates, audiences munching vada-pau while watching, then returning to their afternoons a little bit altered. This, in fact, is real entertainment

Why does the fiction feature film hold and engage audiences so much more than the real-life documentary, which shakes the senses and tweaks them to a greater sensibility? Is it just the media driven hype and escapism of Bollywood? That may be a part of the answer. There is something else, a conditioning of the mind here.

Decades of Films Division documentaries, telling the story of India’s achievements in a routine, droning fashion made audiences escape to the lobby for a smoke. Documentaries became stereotyped in the mind: serious (read boring) and instructive (read depressing). The medium required a class-room setting, not a theatre.


Fast forward to the new, exciting documentaries that win awards at home and are lauded worldwide. But where is one to see them? They could shatter the stereotypes. Film clubs do show them sporadically as do the Consulates. Luckily, the documentary is now coming into its own, commercial release in airy, open viewing, entertainment in our cinema houses. A small beginning … but it is there.

On February 9, MIFF closed its 13th biennial week-long edition with a flourish, bestowing on excited recipients no fewer than 35 awards. The closing night at the packed Tata Theatre at the NCPA was marked by noisy applause and camaraderie. One prize-winner said on stage that he would have happily lost to his rivals, so highly did he rate their work.

The audience had a youthfulness and exuberance which infected seniors. When the revered P K Nair had to collect an award for the remarkable documentary about him (‘Celluloid Man’), the eminent jury tumbled off stage to hand it to him but scrambled up again as the ever-game PK rose to the occasion.

MIFF, and indeed most documentary events such as the Human Rights Watch or the Margaret Mead Fest in New York, have an energized, tribal solidarity. It is not so in the hierarchical feature film festivals. These are dominated by marquee names and the big screen. Egos run high when it comes to features. They lie graciously malleable in the documentary and shorts genre.

Such modesty was much in evidence at the start of MIFF’s concluding session. The medicine man who X-rays the sinews of our times, Anand Patwardhan, received MIFF’s Life-Time Achievement Award. It saluted his pride and courage and the humanism of the documentary filmmaker epitomized in his work.

He was also chair of the MIFF jury. There was pathos in his words to the audience. He listed his impressive work going back many years to films that examined the sores and scar tissues of our times. Not one of the films, he said, had affected the issues they had addressed. In fact, those troubles had gained ground. ‘Are You Listening?’ the title of another award winning film at MIFF, seemed like an answer hanging in the air.

But the very fact that Patwardhan and other film makers continue to ask the questions and press with courage for the answers, the continuing reality of MIFF, a government sponsored event, its content and constantly improving professional quality, the swiftly multiplying audience and efficient handling of a festival’s huge management problems – all this bodes well. Somebody is listening.
Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily launched on January 27, 2014:  Uma da Cunha's column Feb 12, 2014


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Asia Society India Centre’s
New Voices Fellowship for Screenwriters (NVFS) 2013- 2014
Selection of Fellows Announced

Asia Society India Centre has announced the selection of seven Fellows for the New Voices Fellowship for Screenwriters 2013 -2014. The jury, comprising of Anjum Rajabali, Bunty Chand, Juhi Chaturvedi, Rachel Cooper, Uma da Cunha, Claire Dobbin, Ashwini Malik and Sriram Raghavan, have in the spirit of fairness, awarded one additional fellowship this year, as the candidates were equally talented and deserving.

NVFS 2013-2014 Fellows
Mr. Harsh Chhaya
Ms. Naina Gupta
Ms. Teenaa Kaur
Mr. Amitava Mitra
Mr. Deepak Sharma
Mr. Soumil Shukla
Mr. Chirag Singh

Each participating Fellow will receive:
·A stipend of  Rupees  2,00,000.
· Regular guidance from the mentors who are eminent screenwriters and writer-directors over the eight-month long programme.
· Two five-day-long intensive workshops conducted by Anjum Rajabali, with the active participation of mentors, advisors and other industry professionals.
· Recommendations on how to approach production houses and studios, how to pitch, and other professional and legal aspects like contracts, copyright and safeguards.

About NVFS
New Voices Fellowship for Screenwriters
(NVFS) is a programme launched by
Asia Society India Centre to identify, encourage and support a group of six talented independent screenwriters to develop their feature film scripts by working in a dynamic and innovative environment with guidance from eminent filmmakers and screenwriters. The programme invites writers from across India.

Bunty Chand, Executive Director of Asia Society India Centre
, says,
"We are delighted to see NVFS grow and evolve during its second edition. Coordinated by Asia Society's offices in New York and India, this fellowship made possible by Time Warner Foundation extending its grant for another two years, represents Asia Society's commitment to fostering creativity and nurturing new talent.

The first edition successfully saw six emerging screenwriters through a process of writing a feature length script under the guidance of industry professionals.
By incorporating insights from the first edition, we hope to provide an enriching, rigorous and thoughtful programme for our second-year fellows."

The second workshop will be held in May 2014, where writers will receive feedback from other mentors and their peers, which will conclude in September 2014. The next edition will commence from 1 October, 2014.

NVFS is made possible by a grant from Time Warner Foundation.

Lisa Garcia Quiroz, President of the Time Warner Foundation  says, "Our mission is to find innovative and powerful ways to discover, nurture and celebrate the next generation of storytellers."


Monday, February 24, 2014

Independent Filmmaker Labs 2014

Year-long mentorship program

The IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs,
an extraordinary year-long mentorship program,
is currently accepting submissions for 2014.

Open to all first-time feature directors with a low-budget
($1 million) documentary or narrative film in post-production,
this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the
creative, technical, and strategic tools crucial to the successful
completion, marketing and distribution of their films.
In addition, the 20 chosen projects automatically participate in the
Project Forum of IFP's Independent Film Week.

For more information about this annual opportunity
for support, resources, and industry exposure,


 The Hamptons International Film Festival, USA
 is inviting entries! 
Here’s your chance. 
Read the rules and see if your film qualifies ...

Talented filmmakers far and wide, the time for submissions
has finally arrived: HIFF is officially accepting submissions
for its October 9 to 13, 2014 Festival!

HIFF offers a spectacular lineup comprised of
the best of the best in these 5 major categories:

*Narrative Feature
*Narrative Short
*Documentary Feature
*Documentary Short
*Student Films
The Hamptons International Film Festival was founded
with the goal of celebrating independent film and giving
expression to fresh and diverse voices.

Filmmakers, this is your opportunity to take the first step
towards earning exposure, recognition, distribution, and awards.
Your short film could qualify for an Oscar! Your Narrative Feature could win the coveted Golden Starfish Award!

For full details and to view submission rules and regulations,
please visit HIFF's withoutabox submissions page.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Co-Production MarketScreenwriters' LabWork-In-Progress LabProducers' LabThe Viewing Room
Industry ScreeningsKnowledge SeriesExhibition Booths
Call For Entries
This two stage script development lab, now in it's 7th Edition delivers intensive coaching tailored to the precise needs of each writer and project selected for development.

Screenwriters bring to the lab a script in development to be part of an in-depth group and one to one creative discourse. International industry knowledge, from session one of the Lab within TIFF and sessions with renowned & award winning industry mentors will prepare writers to present their projects during NFDC's Film Bazaar in Goa.
Submission Requirements
2 page synopsis
You will have two months to submit the screenplay if short listed
Session 1 Will be held in Sarajevo,
during the 2014 Film Festival,
August 15 -23, 2014
Session 2Will be held in Goa, just prior to
and during the Film Bazaar 2014
21 - 24 November, 2014

Recent writers and projects include
Rajesh Jala — Chingari (The Spark) — ASAP Films — France (Financing)
Ritesh Batra — The Lunchbox — ASAP Films, Sikhya Entertainment, NFDC (Worldwide Release)
Umesh Kulkarni — Antaraal (The Space Within) — Arbhaat Films (In Development)
Kanu Behl — Titli (Butterfly) — Dibakar Benerjee Productions and Yash Raj films (Post Production)
Ruchika Oberoi — Island City — NFDC (Post Production)
Gyan Correa — The Good Road — NFDC (International Release)
Bikas Mishra — Chauranga — Anticlock Films, NFDC (Post Production)
To apply, visit
Deadline – 5 March, 2014