Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Berlinale Spotlights 
Indian Cine Talent

BERLIN:The 65th Berlinale parade of film luminaries starts today with names such as Terrence Malick (presenting his latest, “Knight of Cups”), Margarethe von Trotta (“Misplaced World”). Wim Wenders (his first fiction film since 2008), Werner Herzog (the bio-pica “Queen of the Desert”), Kenneth Branagh (with “Cinderella” has his inspiration) and Jafar Panahi (presenting his third film under a government that forbids him to make movies), to name a very few. 

The Berlinale spotlight is also on India in a very special way - capturing the country’s singularly individual, diehard talent, who keep to their rigid standards, remaining for the most part under wraps, but revel in their work none-the-less. 

Nagesh Kukunoor’s "Dhanak" is in competition in the Generation Kplus (aimed at children and youngsters above 4 years of age), which offers the Grand Prix for the best film - endowed with € 7,500). This is Kukunoor’s thirteenth feature film, the latest in a series that have revealed India’s multi-faceted confrontations with a hard and harsh reality. 

Kukunoor’s last film “Lakshmi” exposed a true story of superstition and the use of the girl child in prostitution. For a change, in “Dhanak”, Kukunoor brings a ray of sunshine into a darkened world. In this case, a blind eight-year-old boy in Rajasthan whose light of hope is his gutsy, dreamer of a sister, just two years older. Kukunoor makes a bizarre connection with Bollywood by the girl turning to Shah Rukh Khan as the hope who will restore sight to the brother she dotes on. She sees the mega star in a movIe theatre extolling the need for eye donations - and that sets her off an a determined chase to get the star to help her brother. 

"One makes all of one's films with equal passion. But when one of them gets a special validation of this kind, it feels like balm on the soul. There are eight films in the Generation Kplus section. And we're one of them," said the ecstatic award winning filmmaker. 

Kukunoor’s film also heralds a new sharply individual, independent film producer – one who is not influenced by high-powered pressure groups who are led by market insights in a grueling film business. Manish Mundra, who shuttles between Dubai, India and elsewhere, has recently been the financial force of well deserved films such as Rajit Kapur’s “Ankhon Dekhi”, and very recently, the much applauded “Umrika”, directed by Prashant Nair, which competed as a rare Indian entry at Sundance and won the Audience Award there. And here is Mundra now, as the person behind Kukunoor’s “Dhanak”, the only Indian feature film to be in competition in Berlin this year. 

2015 Berlin also heralds two very select Indian short filmmakers. 27 films from 18 countries will be competing for a Golden and a Silver Bear, as well as the nomination for best short film at the European Film Awards and the first-ever EUR 20,000 Audio Short Film Award. Competing here are Amit Datta with his 19 minute "Chitrashala" (House of Painting) and Satindar Singh Bedi with his 25 minute "Kamakshi" . 

On the Berlinale Short Film Jury, signaling another honour for India, is Mumbai-based Madhusree Dutta, an alumnus of Jadavpur University, Kolkata, and the National School of Drama, New Delhi, and the founder and executive director of Majlis, a centre for rights discourse and multi-disciplinary art initiatives in Mumbai, 

However, Berlinale Talents presents the grand finale to the festival’s belief in Indian cinema. This year as many as nine diverse film professionals from India have been selected and invited to benefit from the high caliber mentoring the festival provides in its Berlinale Talents. It is here that the most revered names in cinema personally and in detail guide these film talents to develop and hone their projects, their skills, their love for cinema. 

The notable nine Berlinale Talents from India are… 

Directors Atanu Mukherjee, Gaurav Saxena, Jasmine Kaur Roy, Jessica Sadana, Khushboo Ranka, film critic Monty Majeed, actor Sanghmitra Hitaishi, distributor Shiladitya Bora and editor Tinni Mitra. 

And in the Berlinale Market there are more than 20 Indian companies that I know of who are establishing their credentials as world players in the business of films. 

Sadly, the much needed and valued India Pavilion, the hub that gathers people from everywhere around the world to connect with Indian cinema, is not there this year.

Courtesy: http://thecitizen.in/ - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014. Reproducing Uma da Cunha's column from the first edition 

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