Friday, March 7, 2014

Happy International Women's Day!

WIFT INDIA is celebrating WOMEN'S DAY
with the launch of the 
National Anthem
featuring women working across film fraternities in India –
both technicians and actors. 

Please open the video below
and sing along with us on this memorable day …

And watch it play this week at a PVR cinema close to you

This tribute to and by women who work
in film and television in Mumbai and elsewhere
in the country, is brought to you by
Petrina D’Rozario, President of WIFT INDIA

As your Vice-President, Petrina, I thank you and hope that WIFT Mumbai
continues to spread the word - and also the scope - of the excellent work
that women are contributing to the country’s entertainment and media scene
- Uma da Cunha


Nitin Kakar's Filmistaan is Closing Film
at Canada's 2014 ReelWorld Film Festival

ReelWorld Film Festival has announced a line-up of 79 films and videos during its 8-day festival, being held April 2 to 6 in Toronto and April 11 to 13 in Markham.

Closing Night Film:  Nitin Kakar's widely traveled debut work Filmistaan, about a wannabe actor who is mistaken for an American crew member and held hostage in the home of a man who deals in pirated Hindi films. Filmistaan is a story of new cultural understanding forged through film.
Other Indian feature films include ...
Celluloid, on the turbulent life of Dr J.C. Daniel, the pioneer of Malayalam cinema, 
directed and written by Kamal.

Sushrut Jain
's Beyond all Boundaries, on three people's obsession with cricket during the 2011 World Cup of Cricket, hosted in India.

Nagesh Kukunoor's Lakshmi, the true story of a beautiful 14-year-old-girl whose life takes a tragic turn. She is snatched from her family in the village and sold to a brothel in the city. Against all odds, she stands up in court and in an historic landmark case succeeds in putting the traffickers behind bars. The film stars Satish Kaushik and Shefali Shah (known for her roles in Monsoon Wedding, Gandhi, My Father).
Hue: A Matter of Colour, by renowned director and cinematographer Vic Sarin, a personal, heartfelt investigation into the history and often-tragic effects of colourism. 

Founded in 2001 by Actress Tonya Williams, ReelWorld Film Festival screens dramas, documentaries, shorts and music videos by emerging and establishing artists who view the world from a variety of perspectives.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

          Jeffrey D. Brown’s  SOLD is  IFFLA's Opening Night Gala

The 12th  Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) will open with the much awaited feature film, SOLD, directed by Jeffre D. Brown and starring Gillian Anderson, David Arquette and Seema Biswas. Importantly, the film is executive produced by Emma Thompson.  SOLD will make its Los Angeles premiere at IFFLA.

 SOLD is a harrowing and inspiring story of child trafficking. Through one extraordinary girl's journey, the film  illustrates the brutality of child trafficking, a crime experienced by millions of girls every year around the globe. SOLD is a clarion call to action and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

“Because of SOLD’s marvelous script and courageous and brilliant cast,” said Emma Thompson, “it is a story that we can ALL watch – so that we may understand the processes of slavery in modern India and feel able to act without feeling the kind of rage and hopelessness that gets in the way of doing anything.”  SOLD is an adaptation of the National Book Award-nominated novel by Patricia McCormick, based on true accounts. The book has been translated into 32 languages and is a powerful entry point to introduce young people to the issue of modern day slavery. Director Jeffery D. Brown and select A-list cast and supporters will be in attendance.
Spot News!
Jasmine Jaisinghani is IFFLA's Artistic Director

Christina Marouda, IFFLA’s Founder and Chair of the Board, says, “We’re thrilled to have Jasmine on board as our Artistic Director.  She was our first Festival Coordinator in 2005, and has been associated with IFFLA since. This feels like a full circle.”  Jasmine Jaisinghani comes to IFFLA from AFI FEST where she served as the Cultural and Industry Relations Director and headed Guest Services. An independent producer of Indian-Mexican descent, Jasmine has also worked extensively in the music industry, including a tenure at George Harrison’s record label 'Dark Horse'.


2014 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne launches five new awards
and announces the nominees

The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne is back this
year with  a new international awards program and a
packed program of films to showcase the diversity
Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Ambassador Vidya Balan 
with well-wisher Malaika Arora Khan
of Indian cinema to Australia. 

Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business, Louise Asher, who is leading
a Super Trade Mission of more than 100 organisations to India, announced the nominations for the five international awards in Mumbai at a press meet held  at the Taj Lands End in Bandra on March 4, 2014.
Joining Festival Ambassador and renowned Indian actress Vidya Balan, and festival director Mitu Bhowmick-Lange, Ms Asher said that introducing five international awards would add a new dimension to the festival.
Ms Asher listed the five nominees for the
ive international awards as:  

·   Irrfan Khan – The Lunch Box
·   Farhan Akhtar–Bhaag Milkha Bhaag     
·   Raj Kumar Yadav – Shahid

·        Deepika Padukone – Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela
·        Sonakshi Sinha – Lootera
·        Nimrit Kaur – The Lunch Box

·        Rakeysh Mehra – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
·        Ritesh Batra – The Lunch Box
·        Anup Singh – Qissa
·        Anand Gandhi – Ship of Theseus
·        Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

·        The Lunch Box
·        Lootera
·        Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela

·        Filmistaan

·        Fandry
 ·        Ship of Theseus

 In addition, the festival will give the first IFFM People's Choice Award
 to the Indian film with highest box office takings in Australia. 

Ms Asher said the Victorian Government has funded this festival since it
began in 2012 and has committed to take the festival through to 2015.
“From 1 to 11 May, the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne will celebrate
Indian cinema, host prominent Indian filmmakers and screen professionals,
and provide an interactive program of master classes.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Top of Form

Three unusual films, each in a different genre, hit India’s screens, all in February.  One: the Marathi film Fandry , a searing indictment of the evils of caste, is an astonishing sleeper success. Two:  the hard-hitting Gulabi Gang is proof that this new documentary on woman empowerment is now commercially viable (gaining an important boost  from actor Sonham Shah and from Anand Gandhi’s new distribution company).  Three:  Imtiaz Ali’s  Highway out-maneuvers Bollywood with an in-your-face story of a well-off girl fighting caste and class when she unexpectedly finds herself on the road to self-discovery.

But it is Fandry that is re-defining what audiences take to heart and want to see.  It comes to the screen wearing many laurels and awards. How often does a festival  programmer like me not hear “Festival films do not sell. We don’t want our film there. It gets labelled as ‘serious’.”

Well, Fandry is a prime example of an applauded festival film doing well at the box office  – and why?  Because it handles a deeply disturbing subject well - the inhuman plight of low caste communities. Fandry fills us with shame.

Fandry  means ‘pig’. It is a head-on insult. It indicts occupation and caste. Fandry tells of an odd job man, his wife and school-going son Jabya. Being the only dalits in the village, the three are treated with contempt and ordered to do menial jobs. Above all, since pigs are impure, the higher castes make  this family responsible for  removing stray pigs from the vicinity. Young Jabya, acutely resentful of his low status and dark skin, nevertheless aspires to the company of a fair and upper-class school girl. 

Incongruously the film opened in Maharashtra as a tribute to a concept far removed from the spirit of Fandry, Valentine’s Day.  Jabya’s boyish crush provides a romantic obligatto to the plot line, as does his dare-devil nature which contrasts with the servitude of his patents.

On a larger level, the film is driven by degradation. The  low-caste and the pig are equated by the privileged caste which rules the village.  It is the deft telling of the story that makes us feel responsible for the injustice.  The film draws  us into becoming participants, right up to  the gut-wrenching final sequences. 

Director Nagraj Manjule is two films old.  His short film Pistulya (on class divides in rural India)  won the 2011 National Award.  His debut feature Fandry is a winner from the word go.  Appreciative audiences warmed to it at the BFI-London Film Festival.  It created a stir at the Mumbai International Film Festival winning the Grand Jury Award. The film has since traveled (so far)  to festivals in Abu Dhabi, CFSI - Hyderabad, IFFI-Goa, Goteberg, Pune (winning four major awards), Dharamasala and Kerala. It is the first film to win the newly instituted FIPRESCI India-Film Critics Award.

Noting the film’s impact, Zee Entertainment, picked it up for distribution within Maharashtra, where it released on February 14 running to packed houses. The director, along with his producer Vivek Kajaria and co- producer  Nilesh Navalakha,  decided to bypass the usual pre-release  fanfare on TV and other media. The team did not have the funds for that and besides, they felt that such hype would be wrong for the mood of the film.

Fandry’s  confident Maharasthtra run has triggered its national release. From February 28, 2014, it will screen in  Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and 12 other States. This is an amazing trajectory for a film that is charged with issues of  inhumanity,

Director Nagraj Manjule knows his mores well. He says, “Caste and identity are inseparable in India. The moment you ask somebody his name, you have a clue to caste and class.  My village and my caste are integral to my identity.”  He adds, with the wisdom that comes from within, that to cry and weep is also catering to the concept of entertainment.  He feels tears are a catharsis that the human mind and psyche need. It is this motivating factor that makes Fandry so moving and compelling, enough to affect the defining graph of  box office.

Good news!   Tarun Chopra’s debut documentary, W, will release on March 14. The film is on the sexual violence faced by women and how a rape victim is labeled and degraded in the process that follows.  Entertainment is now not just song and dance and weddings. Its meaning  is being extended to social challenge and thoughtfulness.

Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014 reproducing Uma da Cunha's column from the third edition


Monday, March 3, 2014

Apply for Production and Post-Production Funding ...

Doha Film Institute Grants 2014

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) has expanded its funding programme to all
countries of the world including India.

The next round of submissions opens April 1 until 21, 2014.

Feature-length narrative projects in production and post-production with Indian directors attached should send projects for consideration before the closing deadline of April 21, 2014.

Production and post-production funding is available for feature-length narrative films (70 minutes or longer). Documentary projects are eligible by invitation only.

Short films are not eligible for funding. Development funding, is not available.

To be eligible for application, a producer and production company  must be attached to the project. The project should be director’s first or second feature-length film.

The available grants are as such:

Feature Films – 70 minutes and longer   -   Narrative

Production: $50,000 to $100,000

Post-Production: $30,000 to $75,000

Documentary (By Invitation Only)

Production: $30,000 to $75,000

Post-Production: $20,000 to $50,000


Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West has announced its 2014 Feature Access Project honorees, recognizing nine WGAW members who     competed in the Guild’s diversity screenwriting programme.                                  

Coordinated by the WGAW Diversity Department, the Guild project seeks to identify outstanding diverse writers and make their scripts available to entertainment industry decision-makers, including producers, studio executives, agents and managers, to help raise their profile and generate potential employment opportunities. More information about the honorees and complete versions of their screenplays can be found at:


There are three honorees of  Indian origin among the nine.

RADHA BHARADWAJ – “Final Boarding”
Radha Bharadwaj is an Indian filmmaker, film producer and screenwriter. She moved to the United States in her late teens to study film. Bharadwaj's screenwriting and directing feature debut is Closet Land. The critically acclaimed surreal psychological drama was released by Universal Pictures in 1991, making Radha Bharadwaj the first director of Indian descent to have a film released by a major Hollywood studio. Closet Land stars Alan Rickman and Madeleine Stowe. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer produced the feature. The screenplay for Closet Land won the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, among others.

Bharadwaj's second feature is the Victorian gothic mystery, Basil. The period thriller, set in the United Kingdom, stars Derek Jacobi, Christian Slater, Jared Leto and Claire Forlani. The director's cut for Basil was twice selected to be the closing night film for the Special Presentation series at the Toronto International Film Festival, and chosen for a prime slot at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film was also acclaimed at the American Film Market.

NAYAN PADRAI -  "Billion Dollar Raja"
Nayan Padrai, director, co-writer, producer  studied screenwriting and filmmaking at The School of Visual Arts, NYC.  In his early twenties, Padrai trained with some of the finest acting teachers in New York, which gave him the foundation to write characters and dialogue. Padrai was the Co-Founder and President of CineMaya Media,  one of the largest South Asian media, entertainment and marketing conglomerates in the U.S. There, Padrai wrote, produced and/or directed over 300 hours of Indian television programming across genres, oversaw publication of several newspaper titles, the development of a radio station and television network, and founded an advertising agency which was one of the top 15 multi-cultural advertising agencies (ranked by Ad Age). As a screenwriter, Padrai (and his writing partner Ralph Stein) have written over a dozen screenplays together.  When Harry Tries to Marry” is Padrai’s  feature film directional debut.  He had also adapted “Beneath a Marble Sky,” based on the acclaimed novel of the same name, which was to be produced by Eriq LaSalle’s Humble Journey Films.  

“Guns and Saris”

Tianna Majumdar-Langham is British/Indian and grew up in England, India and the U.S. Chris was born in Sudan to Egyptian/Armenian parents, though his family fled to Australia after a military coup. They both currently live in Santa Monica.

Tianna Majumdar-Langham and Chris Bessounian won the 2011 Academy Nicholl Fellowships with Guns and Saris. Their screenplay, Butcher of Bosnia, reached the Top 30 in the same year. In 2008, they won a BAFTA/LA Student Award for their short film, The Kolaborator, which screened in over 50 film festivals worldwide. They are currently writing a number of international projects, including  The Neighbor, a thriller set in Switzerland for Amka Films, and Cristina and Violetta, a Swedish/Italian co-production for producer Peter Kropenin. They have just completed A Perfect Terrorist, their Academy Nicholl Fellowships’ year screenplay, and are developing a number of other film and television projects.


The other six honorees are:

Soo-Hyun Chung – Faith
Q.Terah Jackson III – Rustin
Joy Kecken – All-In
LaToya Morgan – Same River Twice
Galen Tong – The Monkey King

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Congratulations to the three Indian films at the Hong Kong Int. Film Fest (HKIFF)The Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) takes place 27 March- 4 April, 2014.

The three Indian films selected for this festival are …
*Richie Mehta’s Indo-Canadian feature Siddharth.  
*My Name is Salt
, an Indo-Swiss feature documentary by Farida Pacha
 *His New Hands, a short film directed by Sudhanshu Saria.
And in Australia ...

Bangalore-based director Pavitra Chalam’s new feature-length documentary , Indelible, will screen at DocWeek 2014 in Adelaide, Australia, as part of the Asia-Pacific New Documentary Program.