Saturday, September 12, 2015

Congratulations, Ruchika Oberoi!

Ruchika Oberoi wins
for her debut feature film

  "Island City" stood out for its surrealistic 
    vision of a quasi-modern world which is 
  also rooted in the realities of everyday life.

Giornate degli Autori - Venice Days
International Press Office:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Film India Worldwide India At The Toronto International Film Festival


Times are a-changing for Indian cinema. For over a decade, Indian films made it sporadically to the top echelons of international festivals. The hallowed ones - Cannes, Berlin and Venice – have not placed an Indian film in competition for many a year. Only in recent years has Cannes taken an Indian film in its other main sections as has Venice and Berlin (where the Forum has over the years consistently screened the best of Indian cinema). 

Suddenly, 2015 is a-bubble with kudos, hail, fame for new Indian cinema. The weighty doors of Cannes Un Certain Regard opened not to just one but two independent Indian filmmakers (a rare privilege and a record for India). They were the Punjabi film “Chauthi Koot” by noted director Gurvinder Singh (the first in this language at Cannes) and the debut film “Masaan”, which presented a new-age Banares holy city. Hurrahs resounded when the latter’s director, Neeraj Ghaywan, won two awards – Best Film, Camera d’Or and the Fipresci award. Locarno, under director Irene Bignardi’s regime in early 2000, presented major slots on Indian cinema but later, India barely made it there. The jinx was broken this year when Locarno placed the Kannada film “Thithi” in its competitive sidebar Cinema of the Present for first or second-time filmmakers. Here too, the spotlight was on its fledgling director Raam Reddy when he won two top awards. 

The current Autumn season brings more glory to our known and emerging filmmakers. Toronto, celebrating its 40th year, also celebrates Indian cinema with six unusual films, the majority made by women. Although India does not feature in the red-carpet parade of the Gala (a section for films with a larger canvas and impact), they feature in the reputed section, Special Presentations. 

Heading the list is “Talvar” directed by Meghna Gulzar, a hard-hitting dissection of the Aarushi murder case that took place in Noida. This film is making it back to back to all three of the top international festivals of September/October – Toronto, Busan and London BFI. “Talvar” is co-produced by Vishal Bhardwaj (who also scripted the film and scored its music). It stars Konkana Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi and Irrfan Khan. “Parched”, Leena Yadav’s zesty look at empowered village women, has its world premiere at Toronto. There is Pan Nalin’s intriguing “The Angry Indian Goddesses” on today’s solo-flying, feisty young women. The Indian documentary is represented by a trio of Toronto regulars. “An Old Dog’s Diary” by Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel, is a puzzle-piece evoking the works of painter Frances Newton Souza. Shambavi Kaul’s “Fallen Objects” carries this director’s idiosyncratic cinematic stamp. Mumbai’s Megha Ramaswamy presents the North American premiere of her short film “Bunny” on a small girl and her pet toy that overnight gives her the shivers. 

International filmmakers increasingly drawn to India for content and locales is strong at 2015 Toronto. Deepa Mehta leads with “Beeba Boys” (Canada) in the Gala section with actor Randeep Hooda in the main role. Her film is on a Sikh mobster leading his men on controlling Vancouver’s drug trade. American director Mathew Brown premieres his film, “ The Man who Knew Too Much” on the legendary mathematician, Ramanujan and unusual casting with Dev Patel in the title role. Executive producer here is New York based Bharatnatyam exponent and curator Swati Bhise, who provided a guiding hand on the film’s cultural authenticity. Finally, Toronto has the Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Dheepan” directed by Jacques Audiard, a French film on Tamil refugee’s making their endangered way to France heightened by Paris-based Sri Lankan actor Kalieaswari Srinivasan’s charged performance. This film created another impromptu record when its packed Press Conference in Cannes was run mostly in Tamil. In documentaries, New York-based Geeta Gandhbir and Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chonoy’s “A Journey Of A Thousand Miles: Peacemakers” follows three Bangladeshi policewomen who served with the UN peacekeeping mission to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake. 

The Busan festival follows at the start of October with as many as 16 films from India. The competition section here is only for first or second films, and from India, the film is Hari Vishwanath’s “Radio Set”, in Tamil. BFI London International Film Festival follows a week later with as many as 11 films connected with or made in India. Deepa Mehta’s “Beeba Boys” is competing in the Gala section. The documentary “An Old Dog’s Diary” is also in competition. And “Dheepan” features again, an exemplary film of the enforced diaspora of our times which should be seen at every festival, big or small.
Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014.reproducing Uma da Cunha's column from the first edition 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Public Service Broadcasting Trust 
The 15th Open Frame Film Festival and Forum, 2015
September 15 to 22, 2015, India International Centre, New Delhi,

The 15th Open Frame Film Festival and Forum, 2015,  is held in collaboration 
with the India International Centre, New Delhi, Doordarshan and External Publicity
 and Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs.

This  15th edition of PSBT’s Open Frame Film Festival and Forum is about diversity -
of people, stories, ideas, narratives, histories, identities, world views and perspectives. 
Scheduled between  it will showcase films that explore and uphold these pluralities of 
being and becoming. Reflecting on the idea of DIVERSE PEOPLE, DIVERSE STORIES, 
it will screen films on a variety of themes produced over the last year – those that 
document, narrate, follow, investigate, represent, challenge, advocate, affirm, empower, 
unsettle and sometimes disturb.

Each section of the festival will focus attention on specific themes: stories of human 
endeavour, innovation, enterprise and transformation; the nostalgia of traditions and 
practices we have come to forget and diminish; perspectives on care and unlearning;
the dilemmas of belonging and holding on to old traditions in the face of fast changing 
contexts; understanding and exploring difference by employing newer ways of looking 
that destabilise narrow, limiting discourses; looking back at homes and lives that once 
were; the creation of subcultures that allow individual and collective expression; the 
iconic work of artists and their unique journeys; resisting homogenising forces and 
ideologies and efforts towards creating other, better and more equal worlds.

There will also be special sections at the Festival. BEING WOMEN, WRITING 
WOMEN will bring alive the rich legacy of Indian women’s literature, followed by 
a conversation among writers about women’s lives, conflicts, labours and loves, then
 and now. Speakers include Annie Zaidi, Arpita Das, Maitreyi Pushpa and Syeda 
 deeply personal films that look back at events, lives, memories and violence. Through
 the films and the discussion after, the films deal with critical questions of how history
 is created, why some narratives get privileged over others, the idea of justice and closure, 
pain, memorialisation, erasure, the role of the state, collective conscience and the dangers
 of forgetting. Speakers include Harsh Mander, Siddharth Varadarajan, Uma Chakravarti,
Uzma Falak Mehraj and Vani Subramanian.

Founded in 2000 as an embryonic initiative to empower independent documentary 
filmmakers and to create a space for free, pluralistic and democratic public service 
broadcasting in India, the Public Service Broadcasting Trust completes 15 years in 2015!
 This unique endevour, starting with the production of a handful of films, has today 
emerged as the largest producer of documentaries in the country, having supported, 
mentored and nurtured over 400 independent voices and created over 650 documentary
 films on myriad themes and subjects. In the process, our Films have travelled to over 
800 film festivals worldwide and won more than 200 Awards.  PSBT’s innovative 
model for developing a shared public culture of broadcasting focused on diversity, 
accuracy, impartiality and access to marginalised audiences, has been globally recognised
 by UNESCO as a best practice. PSBT received the annual Asian Media Information and
Communication Centre Award in Media and Communication Advancement and Innovation 
in 2012, for its outstanding contribution to the advancement of independent documentary filmmaking. 

Glimpses of some of PSBT films are available here: