Monday, April 27, 2015

France plays Impresario 
for India at Cannes

What an amazingly different year it is for India in Cannes official selection. That France has always had a leaning towards Indian art cinema is known. It was jury member André Bazin’s insistence in Cannes that made the world sit up and notice Satyajit Ray. And that fine tuned interest continues till today. 
In 2015 Cannes, the involvement of France is evident in the Indian films selected, as well as of India locales in films by French directors. 

Director Gurvinder Singh
The Indian films selected create unexpected ripples and also records that surprise. For the first time, India preens with two films, Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot and Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan in the prized Un Certain Regard section. 

Just one Indian film making it to this coveted arena draws a crescendo of applause. But two ? The achievement also suggests that this is a first time honour. 

Both films are by relatively lesser known names with sharply individual, strikingly original minds looking at a contrasting Indian milieu.  Gurvinder Singhs’s Chauthi Koot (his second film after his debut work Anhe Ghorey Da Daan impacted the festival scene), Yet again, this suggests the first time that a Punjabi language film enters the Cannes roster of programmed feature films. 
Director Neeraj Ghaywan
Debut director Neeraj Ghaywan’s short film Shor won the Grand Jury Awards at three international film festivals in New York, LA and London. He appears as a marque name for the first time in Cannes with his debut feature Masaan. The film intertwines the lives of persons living along the Ganges who want to escape the stifling conditions of their small town. Chauthi Koot is set in 1980s Punjab, in the peak of the militant movement for a separatist Sikh state. 
Both films have a driving, informed, committed band of producers. One of the co-producers for Chauthi Koot is Sunil Doshi, who has worked hard and long to find a place for the independent film in India’s driven Bollywood. Phantom Films, formed by torch-bearers Vikas Bahl, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena, is among the producers for Masaan

And, what do these two polarised films have in common? A French co-producer. 

Masaan is produced jointly by Phantom Films, Manish Mundra, Macassar Productions, Sikhya Entertainment and ARTE France Cinéma and Pathé Production. Chauthi Koot is produced by Sunil Doshi, Kartikeya Narayan, Nina Lath Gupta, Gurvinder Singh and Catherine Dussart Productions Paris.

India’s landscapes and lifestyles will linger on the screens of the Festival de Palais with French director Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan. The film in Competition, is one of the 19 films selected from hundreds to compete for the 2015 Palme d’Or. Dheepan is a Tamil freedom fighter, an LTTE Tiger in Sri Lanka, who foresees certain defeat in the Civil War. He flees to Europe with a woman and a little girl. But even there, the strains of war consume him. The film has been shot extensively in Tamil Nadu in Rameshwaram, Mandapam and Ooty. Chennai’s Wide Angle Creations, led by Suresh Balaje and George Pius, collaborated with Paris’ Why Not Productions handled the India shoot and casting. The Tamil theatre actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan plays a pivotal role. Sri Lankan actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan, settled in France, plays the lead. 

‘Director’s Fortnight’ has a French offering, The Cowboys, the much anticipated directorial debut of Thomas Bidegain, Cesar-winning screenwriter of Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet and Rust and Bone. The film is about a father (François Damiens) and son who set out to find their missing daughter /sister with the help of an American headhunter . Shot in and around Udaipur, the Indian company, La Fabrique Films, founded by Mumbai-based Deborah Benattar, line-produced the Indian schedule. 
Director Asif Kapadia
Selected for Cannes Midnight Screenings is the latest film Ana by London-based Asif Kapadia (the director of The Warrior and the Oscar-winning 2010 film, Senna ). Ana is on the late British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. 

Kapadia’s first visit to Cannes was in 1997, when his student film The Sheep Thief took second place in the Cinéfondation Awards. In 2013, he attended as an executive producer on Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout, which also played at Midnight Screenings. 

Originally from India, Asif made his name with his striking short film The Sheep Thief set in Gujarat. It won second place in Cannes Cinéfondation (student) film section. He is the one who cast Irrfan Khan in the The Warrior, the film that put the spotlight on this consummate actor.

Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily

launched on January 27, 2014.  Uma da Cunha's latest article reproduced
above was posted on April 25, 2015. 

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