Saturday, September 17, 2016

Submit Your Film till 20 September Mid Night and Save Extra Charges

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FOR FILMMAKERS – never forget regular deadline 20 September - SUBMIT TODAY

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world’s best & fastest growing and now a prestigious Jaipur International Film Festival- JIFFNever Ever like JIFF.

Submit your film, screenplay today and be a part of global film community from January 7 – 11 in Pink City Jaipur.


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Friday, September 16, 2016

'An Insignificant Man' Ignites World Screens, Kejriwal Rise Strikes a Chord

Who would have thought that a documentary on an Indian election would be one of the most sought after screenings at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, which places close to 400 films before its discerning audience? Moreover, the film plays at three of the most important year-ending film festivals across the world. From TIFF it will travel to BFI London Film Festival and then to the key film event in the Far East, the Busan International Film Festival.

The packed TIFF screening of this remarkable documentary held late night was pitched with excitement, leaving its audience enthralled at the unique face of India as it prepares for one of its most challenging goals to mobilise public votes. The film’s interest is timely as well, what with the current American presidential race dominated by two high-profile opposing candidates.

‘An Insignificant Man’ gains momentum as a taut, political thriller. It closely observes day to day over a fast-paced two years, the almost overnight emergence followed by the spectacular rise of activist Arvind Kejriwal, from a whistle lower to a controversial vigilante-politician. It traces the birth of India’s newest political force - The Common Man's Party (AAP). This revolution is meticulously and expertly captured with intimacy and care by two talented first-time directors, Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla.

The film reveals firsthand the man behind Arvind Kejriwal, not known to many Westerners. He is referred as the “Bernie Sanders of India”, the American who is the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congress, unaffiliated to any political party and identified as a democratic socialist). The film shows how a common man prepares to run for head of state in his zeal to overthrow the status quo in Delhi. It projects this battle as an exciting challenge, heightened by suspense and insights, its expert editing lending it a rising crescendo.

The two directors, allowed close access from 2013 to 2015, to Kejriwal’s campaign trail, remain unobtrusive as they document Kejriwal’s movements from within his office to out in the streets and public platforms. There are no added interviews. The film augments its own original material with select news footage as they follow Kejriwal and candidly present his loyal supporters, his chaotic political rallies and crowded office meetings milling with his enthusiastic band of loyal supporters. It presents the developing cracks in the party’s own work force and its upper echelons and its rough and stormy ride as it champions difficult reforms and new bills.

Ranka and Shukla, with executive producer Anand Gandhi, were able to make this film through a massive independent crowd funding effort.

The critics here have noted that ‘An Insignificant Man’ is a vital, on-the-ground look of the phenomenon that is the AAP, adding that more than a portrait of Kejriwal, Ranka and Shukla have created a portrait of a country with 29 official languages and 1.3 billion people struggling to achieve real democracy.

For anyone watching this documentary, it is an elevating, involving experience of a country at stake seeking fresh solutions. The film connects universally which is evident in Canadian critic Charles Trapunski’s statement “Unspoken in this documentary, but loudly echoing, is that the American political spectrum lacks a Arvind Kejriwal, who is a truly insignificant man.”

Courtesy:  - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014. Reproducing Uma da Cunha's column

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 TIFF Showcases India's Women in Film


The 41st Toronto International Film Festival, two thirds into its end, is showcasing women directors in greater numbers than ever before. Women directors are a whopping 30 percent of the total. Moreover, women film professionals have been provided a solus arena, in additional to being spread over TIFF’s innumerable panels and discussions. 

Freida Pinto stole the limelight at the talk Women at the Helm – Because it is 2016! The 'Slumdog Millionaire' actress urged women to bring about industry change on their own and not depend on self-indulgent studios, affirming "It's time to stop talking and to start doing something.” The actress talked of the time when she and ‘City of God’ co-director Katia Lund tried to launch a film project. Every potential investor or studio said it was a beautiful story but backed off when they found it centred around a Pakistani woman who spoke no English and wore a burqa. A brown woman is not what they fancied, she realised. That’s when she founded her star-studded ‘We Do It Together’ to work with internationally acclaimed directors, actors and producers, whether men or women, to develop a slate of gender-driven films that spawned emerging voices within the industry. 

In TIFF’s high-profile Gala slots, a record of 7 female directors are among its total 20, which include two impressive names from India - Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair. The former presents a mind-churning and action orienting dissection of the Nirbhaya rape of 2012. Mira Nair’s pursues a true story set in Africa’s colourful and rhythmic Uganda, where she now lives. “This is a tribute to my second home - as ‘Monsoon Wedding’ was to Delhi”, she says. The film is on the true story of a young local shanty town girl whose promise in chess is recognised by chance and she becomes a world champion at the game. 

In Special Presentations, Konkona Sensharma’s first foray as a film director has won plaudits for her directorial finesse and her sharp and vivid sense of observation. Most films come with their battalion of stars to maximize their publicity. But pint-sized Konkona stood alone and tall at Toronto’s gigantic stage. Her self assured and individual style of direction and her bang-on instinct of spotting talent will take this gifted director/actor to new heights. The good news is that her film will open the Jio Mami Mumbai Film Festival on October 20. 

In Hot Docs, director Khushboo Ranka features as a rare Double Bill. She is the director of the ‘Right to Pray’ and co-director (with Vinay Shukla) of another documentary, ‘An Insignificant Man’. Shirley Abraham is the co-director with Amit Madheshiya of the celebrated documentary ‘The Cinema Travellers’. 

Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s ‘Tope’, a charming and lyrical flight of fancy is on the underbelly of class rebellion. Its haunting and riveting music is composed by his gifted Mumbai-based daughter Alokananda Dasgupta. She is here in Toronto. 

A budding actress appears in Deepa Mehta’s mind blowing ‘Anatomy of Violence’. She is Toronto-based Tia Bhatia, daughter of Sardar Nav Bhatia, a leading businessman. She worked as an assistant to Deepa Mehta in her earlier film and then came to Chandigarh and Delhi to act in ‘Anatomy of Murder’. In this free-wheeling, internalised film, Tia plays two totally different roles, one brief and the other more contained. 

Indian actor Priyanka Bose, tall, lissome, dusky, confident – is the cynosure of all eyes even when at her most casual and refreshingly, without any hint of make-up. 

She is the only Indian actor representing ‘Lion’, director Garth Davis’ major TIFF hit and being talked about as a sure Oscar contender. Priyanka’s role as a labourer hauling stones and bricks at a construction site has been noticed and lauded. 

Priyanka is a graduate from Delhi whose yen for acting made her run away from home because of her parents disapproval. She arrived in Mumbai around ten years ago. Her plans to study acting was prevented because interesting roles started coming her way. She has dabbled in commercial cinema but most of her work is in independently produced films such as, ‘Gangor’, ‘Shunyo Awnko’, ‘Oaas’ and ‘Gulaab Gang’ and the Hollywood production, ‘Sold’. Recently, she has been touring with the award-winning play Nirbhaya, by acclaimed playwright Yael Farber. She has also ventured into production creating short films and music videos for independent musicians and bands. 

In the case of the documentary, ‘Mostly Sunny’, we have a distinguished photographer-turned filmmaker and a man at that, presenting a remarkably astute and disarming study of a thriving porn star who has been accepted in as conservative a country as India. Sunny Leone in the film is honest, open and appealingly human about her life and her choices. The film has won over its audience here and also sold extensively. The director is Dilip Mehta - Deepa Mehta's brother. This could arguably be the first time a brother and sister have both presented their work in the same year at TIFF.

Courtesy:  - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014. Reproducing Uma da Cunha's column

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cinema: Scintillating Mish and Mash of India and the Global

Tuesday, September 13,2016
India’s high points:

*Kolkata remains city of joy with Garth Davis’ ‘Lion’ 
* New York’s Vikram Gandhi scores with debut feature, ‘Barry’
* Mumbai’s Nina Kulkarni shines in Belgium’s ‘A Wedding’ 

India and Indian actors both abound in international cinema of a high order in the close to 400 films being screened in Toronto this year. In this connection three polarised films have brought unexpected laurels to India, each in a different way.

A surprise hit, the most appreciated film of the first four days of TIFF and already being tipped as an Oscar player, is ‘Lion’, the debut work of director Garth Davis. It features huge star names such as Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel and David Wenham. From India, the cast lists Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Bharate, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Deepti Naval, Divian Ladwa, Sachin Joab, Pallavi Sharda and Arka Das. The articulate Priyanka Bose is the only actor from India to be at TIFF.

Rave reviews of the film laud its India component, above all, child actor, Sunny Pawar, who plays the 5-year-old Saroor (the main subject of the film) and Dev Patel as his older avatar. Dev too has received the highest kudos of his career for this portrayal.

At the prolonged Press Conference for the film, it was Kolkata, the city where the film is set for most of its early part, that dominated. It bought back memories of ‘City of Joy’ when it was made. Although the title may have a pointed and poignant connotation, the film brought international fame to the city, as also to the film and its cast and crew.

Adapted from Brierley's memoir A Long Way Home, the film, set in 1986, starts with the harsh life of the eager, helpful five-year-old Saroo and his elder brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) They help all they can as their mother (Priyanka Bose) labours hauling rocks at a land site. But when Saroo finds himself separated from the others, he panics and boards a stationary train.He falls asleep, waking up a huge distance away in Calcutta, totally alien to him, even in its language. For months he manages to eke an existence, evading dangers from those posing as his rescuers. Finally, he is taken to an orphanage where a kindly Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) adopt him.

The scene shifts to Tasmania, Australia, and the boy’s wonder at this gadget-driven world is heartwarming and yet intensely sad. Twenty years later, he is the pride and joy of his parents. But, on meeting other Indians, he recalls his past and now wants to know his real parents. He becomes one of the rare lucky survivor among the annual recorded statistics in India of 80,000 children missing annually.

The film pays homage to the wide-eyed world of children, innate and natural wisdom helps them cope with the untold misery and hardship that chance foists on them.

New York born and raised Vikram Gandhi (his parents moved to the US in the 70s) follows his promising short films with an admirably confident and self-assured first feature film, ‘Barry’.

Apparently low-budget, the film details Barack Obama's fiercely testing first year at Columbia University as he arrives in August 1981 as a transfer student from Occidental College in Los Angeles.

The film looks at this likeable, well-read, sports inclined young man as he comes to this traumatising city. He is in search of his identity and comfort zones while confronting his lack of family as well as his cultural roots. His mother is white and living in Indonesia, where he spent his childhood years, while his father, who is from Kenya and living there now, is someone he has met just once a decade earlier. He sees that he is not at ease in any given situation or place. The well-researched film ( by writer Adam Mansbach ) looks sympathetically at its hapless, questioning protagonist caught in a world he cannot understand.

The film is timely as it looks at one of the most accessible and human Presidents that the US has known. In India, the film will reach out because of the way it candidly accesses the young formative years of a country’s most highly placed person and also because India, being used to its own frantic and disturbing internal diaspora, can empathise with the problems it places before the viewer.

From Belgium, the film ‘Noces” (A Wedding) by first time feature film director Stephan Streker, follows an honour killing by a Pakistani family which became a notorious and widely debated case in his country. It was a welcome surprise to see the accomplished Maharashtrian actor Neena Kulkarni playing the anguished and disturbed mother!

The film follows the 18-year-old independent-minded and rebellious Zahira, who finds she is pregnant but last minute cannot undergo the abortion. Her aghast parents, now aware of her waywardness, force her to look at possible choices for a suitable husband. However, the girl desists and leaves home to stay with a girlfriend. Later, she runs away with her local boyfriend. Her loving brother and young sister try all they can to protect her and make her obey the ways of their tradition. She returns to collect her Passport. The brother, weeping, distraught and trembling, finds he has no choice but to kill her.

This 2007 incident shook Belgium to the core. The brother and parents are in jail till today for committing the crime. The director’s stance here is objective with the parents presented as simple folk, kind and caring. He feels theirs is not an act of crime but one of a mindset instilled in them.

The actress (Lina El Arabi, Moroccan by birth) excels as the resolute, defiant young Zahira. The director is in awe and admiration for Neena Kulkarni saying that she is the most accomplished and experienced actor he has worked with. He waits eagerly for his film to screen in India.

(Cover Photo: Still from the movie Lion)

Courtesy:  - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014. Reproducing Uma da Cunha's column

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Unesco award for HOTEL SALVATION (Mukti Bhawan) at Venice Film Festival 2016!

UNESCO jury has awarded the XXIIIrd prix "Enrico Fulchignoni" to ShubhashishBhutiani for his movie HOTEL SALVATION (MuktiBhawan).

Jury's motivation : "For the values finely expressed on the importance of family, time passed together in respect and with love, and those valuesof human rights which we all share.

The maturity and depth of emotions and cinematic vocabulary used to display these belie the young age of the director, and we look forward to seeing many more of his films in the future.

HOTEL SALVATION is part of the Biennale College - Cinema program at the Venice Film Festival which gives support since 2012 to the young filmmakers to bring their vision to the big screen and in this case the effort has borne marvelous fruit. "

CICT-Unesco Jury was composed by :  JasminaBoijc (founder and director UNAFF, Stanford University),  PierpaoloSaporito (President  of OCCAM, the UN Observatory on Cultural Communication and v.president  of CICT-UNESCO,  Gabriel Griffin-Hall (Author and Poet), Eliana Bantchev  (CICT-UNESCO General Secretary Delegate).

Three years ago, ShubhashishBhutiani’s short film KUSH had won the Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film. 
Starring Adil Hussain (Life of Pi), MuktiBhawan is a joyful tale of love and leave-taking.

It takes place in a hotel where people check in to spend the last days of their lives. However, the story is not that much about death but much more about a special father/son relationship and their capacity to let go.

It seems the audience in Venice was carried away by this universal story of love, redemption and mourning. 

When Daya, a 77 year old man, wakes up from a strange nightmare, he knows his time is up and he must get to Varanasi immediately in hope of dying there to attain salvation. His dutiful son, Rajiv, is left with no other choice but to drop everything and make the journey with his stubborn father, leaving behind his wife and daughter. 

The two of them check into MuktiBhawan/Hotel Salvation, a hotel devoted to people hoping to spend their last days there. Rajiv finds himself having to live and take care of his father for the first time in his life.

The Award will be granted at a ceremony in  Paris by UNESCO where they will also screen the film for a select group of invited guests.

TIFF:Fuqua Re-Invent's Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, Denzel Washington in the Lead

Sunday, September 11,2016
The 41st Toronto film festival started on a pitched note of expectation with a highly touted film, a remake of the 1960 Western classic of the same name, directed by John Sturges and a memory-etched cast led by Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Eli Wallach. And that film itself in its time was based on the 1954 film classic ‘Seven Samurai’, directed by the Japanese master, Akira Kurosawa.

Considered to be one of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, ‘Seven Samurai’ is set in a 16th sixteenth-century Japanese village whose desperate inhabitants hire warriors to protect them from invading bandits. The film combines justice being delivered by hired killers with elements of fine human emotion and relentless violent action. This kind of layered philosophy lies also at the basis of the American Western, and Sturges adapted it in his film with seamless expertise. His 1960 version takes the essence of the film to a small farming village in Mexico and gives the story a rich American small-town flavour.

This new reinvention of this classic theme is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who cast the same two highly regarded lead actors, Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, in his earlier blockbuster, ‘Training Day” (2001). And sure enough, it is even more high-octane and blistering in this modern day setting. The film releases in the US on September 23rd.

In his film, it is the small mining town of Rose Creek in Minnesota, which is under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). The frightened locals hire seven disparate, lonely men who are outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns. As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, the seven mercenaries led by Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) each of whom come to this rescue operation for a personal reason. They then prepare the town to repulse an army of over 100 bandits who will arrive wanting food.

TIFF’s opening film sets the tone for its impressive list of hyped, big-time Hollywood and other blockbusters. World distributors, the media and the audience follow these films with flint-eyed eagerness, knowing that they are the harbingers of the coming Oscar nominees and awards. These films are set to do big box office business as well. The film ‘Martian’ proved this with panache last year. In the same vein, TIFF premieres/audience award winners in the past have included Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’, Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, Tom Hooper’s ‘The King's Speech’ and David O’Russell’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook’.

As eagerly awaited are TIFF’s choice pickings from leading festivals of the year starting with Sundance and Cannes. This year the best of other festivals at TIFF are titles such as Nate Parker’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’, Jeff Nichol’s ‘Loving’ and Jim Jarmush’s ‘Paterson’.

Balancing this glittering line-up of the most enticing and popular films of the year, TIFF offers for the more demandingly inclined viewer, films that are by first time directors, films of issues and causes that need more focus in our times, documentaries and shorts, and this year, an added dimension, Virtual Reality. The coming ten days hold promise for all.

Watch the trailer of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ on

Courtesy:  - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014. Reproducing Uma da Cunha's column