Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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Time to say we told you so. Here – where we wrote that we are going to hear a lot about Kanu Behl’s Titli in the coming days. And much before anyone else, it was our Varun Grover who saw the film at Goa’s Film Bazaar, wrote about it’s brilliance and predicted that the film has all the potential to travel far. He got this one bang right.

So here’s the big news – Kanu Behl’s debut feature Titli has been selected for this year’s Cannes and will premiere in Un Certain Regard section.

Produced by Dibakar Banerjee Productions and Yash Raj Films, Titli features Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial and newcomer Shashank Arora in lead roles. And here’s the official synopsis of the film -

In the badlands of Delhi’s dystopic underbelly, Titli, the youngest member of a violent car-jacking brotherhood plots a desperate bid to escape the ‘family’ business.
His struggle to do so is countered at each stage by his indignant brothers, who finally try marrying him off to ‘settle’ him.

Titli, finds an unlikely ally in his new wife, caught though she is in her own web of warped reality and dysfunctional dreams. They form a strange, beneficial partnership, only to confront their inability to escape the bindings of their family roots.  But is escape, the same as freedom?

Kanu is an almunus of SRFTI, worked with Dibakar Banerjee on Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, and co-wrote Love, Sex Aur Dhokha.

Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan and Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely had premiered in the same section of Cannes.

And this is what Varun Grover wrote about the film in our year-end post -

The best Indian film I saw this year, and hopefully the whole of world will see soon, is Kanu Behl’s ‘Titli’. Seeing it on a desktop computer in IFFI, Goa’s ‘viewing room’ should be counted as an underwhelming, far from ideal setting, and still, this very dark very funny very depressing dastaavez on patriarchy BLEW ME AWAY like nothing this year. Stunning is the word. Breathless is another. Writing so sharp (Kanu Behl and Sharat Kataria co-wrote it) and performances so bang-on, not to mention excellent edgy-gritty cinematography (Siddharth Dewan), this is our best bet for world cinema honors next year.

After releasing digitally restored classics like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Salaam Bombay, Chashme Buddoor and Om Dar B Dar, PVR is releasing Satyajit Ray’s timeless classic Mahanagar (The Big City) on 18th April, 2014, under its PVR Director’s Rare banner.

The movie will release with English subtitles across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and Ahmedabad. Mahanagar has been digitally restored by The RDB Organization under the leadership of Mr. Kamal Bansal.

Mahanagar was originally released in 1963 and Satyajit Ray won the Silver Bear at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival for it in 1964.

Whether you’ve seen it before or not, this is one unmissable big-screen event. Here are some good articles to bookmark and read on the this timeless and universal classic:

And finally, here’s the original illustrated poster by Ray himself followed by a fan made poster by Jahan Bakshi:

 

Mahanagar poster (1)

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Mumbai Mantra Sundance Institute Screewriters LabMumbai Mantra, the media and entertainment division of the Mahindra Group, in collaboration with Sundance Institute, has selected eight Indian Screenwriters and their feature film projects for the third annual Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab, to be held from March 16-21 at the Club Mahindra Resort in Tungi.

- This year’s Screenwriting Fellows, selected from submissions from India and the Indian diaspora around the world, are: Navneet Behal (Experiments with Truth); Ashvin Kumar (Noor); Bornila Chatterjee (Nuclear Hearts); Gaurav Madan (Shaktipur Crude); Deepanjali B Sarkar (Svadharma); Dylan Mohan Gray (The Last Day of Winter); Sanjay Talreja (The River Murder); and Neeraj Ghaywan and Varun Grover (Ud Jayega / Fly Away Solo).

- Creative Advisors include: Naomi Foner (Running on Empty, The Bee Season), Michael Handelman (The Ex, Night At The Museum), Dante Harper (The Delicate Art of the Rifle), James V Hart (Contact, August Rush, Dracula, Tuck Everlasting), Malia Scotch Marmo (Hook, Madeline), Anjum Rajabali (The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Raajneeti), Elena Soarez (City of Men, House of Sand), Rose Troche (Go Fish, The Safety of Objects) and Sooni Taraporevala (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, The Namesake).

- Mumbai Mantra received over 500 applications for the Lab from Indian screenwriters across the globe. After a rigorous deliberation and consultation with Sundance Institute, the final eight projects were chosen.

- The Selection Advisory Committee included Advaita Kala, Anjum Rajabali, Deven Khote, K. Hariharan, Kanika Luthra, Mahesh Samat, Meenakshi Shedde, Neeru Nanda, Prakash Kovelamudi, Ram Madhvani, Ravina Kohli, Uma Da Cunha and Vikramaditya Motwane.

PROJECTS AND SCREENWRITERS SELECTED

EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH

LOGLINE: Following three children over the course of eighteen years, Experiments With Truth explores a recent history of state-sponsored violence.

Writer/director: Navneet Behal

While pursuing his Masters in Film at the New York Institute of Technology, Navneet Behal started work in New York as a camera operator. Upon his return to India, Navneet worked as Associate Director on a Hindi feature film, produced by Wild Elephant Motion Pictures. He is currently directing his first feature film, produced by M.A.S Universal Fin & Intra, due for release in 2015.

NOOR

LOGLINE: A six year-old girl sets out to find her missing father and stumbles upon mass graves, implicating the Indian army and putting herself in danger.

Writer/director: Ashvin Kumar

Ashvin Kumar is the youngest Indian filmmaker to be nominated for an Academy Award, for Little Terrorist, which played at 130 film festivals, winning 25 awards, including Honourable Mention at BAFTA/LA and a nomination by the European Film Academy. In 2012, his documentary Inshallah Football was awarded the National Award, India’s highest honor for cinema. Its sequel Inshallah, Kashmir won the National Award for best investigative film in 2013. His other work includes Dazed in Doon and The Forest.

NUCLEAR HEARTS

LOGLINE: A Bengali lounge singer who becomes involved with two French expats living in Calcutta, India.

Writer/director: Bornila Chatterjee

Bornila Chatterjee graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and TV in 2008. Her debut feature film, Let’s Be Out, The Sun Is Shining, premiered at the 2012 New York Indian Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and received a Best Actress nomination for lead Lipica Shah. Bornila was previously Managing Director of Stone Street Studios, a screen acting school and advanced conservatory in the Department of Drama at Tisch. Bornila is a curator and essayist for Vyer Films, a Brooklyn-based film streaming service, and a writer for Overdose Art Pvt. Ltd, a progressive art platform and production company in Calcutta, India.

SHAKTIPUR CRUDE

LOGLINE: When oil is discovered, a small village at Indo-China border suddenly becomes the most important place in the country and changes the lives of its people forever.

Writer/director: Gaurav Madan

Gaurav Madan grew up in a small town in Haryana. He received his Masters in Communications from University of Pune. He has won several awards for his commercial work, and owns an advertising production company based in Mumbai. His first screenplay was 3 nights 4 days, which was completed in 2009.

SVADHARMA

LOGLINE: The true story of an army officer who is betrayed by his government and sentenced to eight years of solitary confinement.

Writer/director: Deepanjali B Sarkar

Deepanjali B Sarkar is a digital media content specialist with experience ranging from internet and telecom content to corporate communications. She has worked with ITC, Indiatimes.com and Mobifusion. An alumnus of Presidency College Kolkata and Jadavpur University, she blogs regularly at http://filmandbookclub.blogspot.com/.

THE LAST DAY OF WINTER

LOGLINE: Condemned by a thuggish political regime as the son of a traitor, a 15-year-old boy faces a torturous set of choices as he reluctantly leaves childhood behind.

Writer/director: Dylan Mohan Gray

Dylan Mohan Gray is an award-winning producer, writer and director. His documentary Fire in the Blood was presented at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and set a record for the longest theatrical run by a non-fiction feature film in Indian history. Fire in the Blood has won major awards in Washington, Hamburg and Vancouver and also received the award for Best Debut Film at the 2014 Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF). Trained as a historian, Dylan founded the production company Sparkwater India in 2005 and has worked in various capacities on feature films, including collaborations with directors Fatih Akin, Peter Greenaway, Paul Greengrass, Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair.

THE RIVER MURDER

LOGLINE: A small town cop investigates whether a body found floating on the river is one of four missing local men.

Writer/director: Sanjay Talreja

Sanjay Talreja is an award-winning writer, director and editor of narrative features and documentaries, whose work has appeared on television and at film festivals. He most recently wrote and directed the feature film Surkhaab, which won Best Director, Foreign Language Feature at the 2013 London International Film Festival. Sanjay also teaches at various colleges and universities in Canada, the US and India. He has a MFA in Film.

UD JAYEGA (FLY AWAY SOLO)

LOGLINE: Four lives intersect along the Ganges river, each yearning to escape the constrictions of a small town.

Writers-director: Neeraj Ghaywan / Varun Grover (co-writer)

Neeraj Ghaywan worked with Anurag Kashyap on the veteran director’s two-part opus Gangs of Wasseypur and as second unit director on Ugly. His short films as writer-director include Shor and The Epiphany. Shor won the grand jury prize at three International film festivals.

Varun Grover grew up in Dehradun and Lucknow. He has written stand-up comedy for various TV shows and currently performs stand-up comedy at the biggest venues in India, writes fiction and graphic series for children in Chakmak (published from Bhopal, by Eklavya), and has written lyrics for Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Vasan Bala’s Peddlers (2012), Rajat Kapoor’s Aankhon Dekhi (2013), and Fahad Mustafa/Deepti Kakkar’s Katiyabaaz (2013).

Some of us had the privilege of watching Nisha Pahuja’s critically-acclaimed, controversial and undoubtedly brilliant documentary “The World Before Her” last year, and had nothing but praise for it. In fact, we even wrote about it at length and put it on our Must Watch film recco list. We’re now delighted to announce that after having a theatrical release in US and Canada, and winning accolades and top awards in the prestigious International film festivals, the film will get a release in India via PVR Director’s Rare in 6 cities – Bombay, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad and Bangalore – on April 25. More about the film below.

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Synopsis

The World Before Her tells the story of girls competing in the Miss India Pageant and those taking part in the VHP’s Durga Vahini camps. It is a tale of two Indias. In one, Ruhi Singh is a small-town girl competing in Bombay to win the Miss India pageant—a ticket to stardom in a country wild about beauty contests. In the other India, Prachi Trivedi is the young, militant leader of a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls run by Durga Vahini, where she preaches violent resistance to Western culture, Christianity, and Islam. Moving between these divergent realities, the film creates a lively, provocative portrait of the world’s largest democracy at a critical transitional moment—and of two women who hope to shape its future. The film also features former Miss India Pooja Chopra who was a near victim of female infanticide. Watch the trailer below:

The writer and the director of the film, Nisha Pahuja who is the first filmmaker to get inside a Durga Vahini camp says,

“I am thrilled to finally present the film to audiences in India!  Although we’ve had a great run with it abroad, I’ve always felt that it needs to be seen in India because it is first and foremost an Indian story.  And sharing it now is key since women’s rights has become an issue that is front and centre in the public consciousness.”

The award winning film is shot by the ace cinematographer and FTII graduate, Mrinal Desai and Derek Rogers.

Apart from the theatrical release, the film will be screened in various cities, villages, schools and colleges across the nation as a part of its ambitious nation-wide campaign. The film is being shown at the prestigious educational institutes including Symbiosis,  IIT and IIM institutes across the country. Joining the campaign are women’s rights activist and some of the incredible women featured in the film including the former beauty queen Pooja Chopra.

Awards and Accolades

The award winning film which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 has been screened in more than 125 film festivals across the world and has won over 19 awards including best documentary feature at the Tribeca Film Festival 2012, best Canadian Feature, 2012 Hot Docs Film FestivaL, best Foreign Film, 2012 Traverse City Film FestivaL, best Canadian Documentary, 2012 Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards. It was recently featured in the ‘Film Forward’ program of the prestigious Sundance film festival and was part of Indiana University Cinema program where Pahuja was invited to present and speak about the film along with other speakers including Meryl Streep, Abbas Kirostami and Roger Corman.

About the director

Nisha Pahuja is a freelance filmmaker, writer, producer, and researcher who was born in India, but grew up in Toronto. Her third film, The World Before Her won the World Documentary Competition Award at Tribeca Film Festival, where it premiered. Though she grew up in Toronto, this is her second film focusing on India. She makes films that deal with social and political issues and are driven by character and narrative.

For further information on the film please log onto the website.

In what’s turning out to be a most heartening trend in recent years, yet another Indian film has made a name for itself at a prestigious International film festival. Avinash Arun’s directorial debut, the Marathi feature film Killa (The Fort) had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival (better known as the Berlinale). The film was selected in the Generation Kplus competitive category and has won a Crystal Bear from the Children’s Jury and a Special Mention from the International Jury.

About the Prize

In the Generation Kplus section the jury members are no older than those of the audience. Eleven children and seven teens award the best films with Crystal Bears. Special Mentions are given for outstanding achievements. Two international juries present further prizes in the Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus competition.

The film received glowing reviews from both juries. The Children’s Jury, awarding the Crystal Bear said:

“This film convinced us in all respects: with his good camera work and the great actors, but also because of its incredibly beautiful nature images which blend perfectly with the music. This film made us all want to discover India.”

Interestingly, the film also received a Special Mention from the International Jury too:

“A beautifully photographed story about the challenges of being a boy. This film had wonderful pace and rhythm. Never reverting to clichés, the fresh performances left us feeling we were right there with the characters.”

About the Film

Coping with the recent death of his father, Chinu, 11- year old boy moves to a small Konkan town from a big city because of his mother’s job transfer. He finds it difficult to adjust to the new place and finds himself alienated and reluctant to open up to its people. Both Chinu and his mother grapple with their own individual struggles and anxieties in the new town. In the process, they emerge with newer experiences and as newer people, both healed and enriched.

Produced by Madhukar R Musle, Ajay G Rai, Alan McAlex under the banner, Jar Pictures and presented by M R Filmworks, the film was a part of NFDC Film Bazaar’s Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab in 2013.

It stars Amruta Subhash, Archit Deodhar, Parth Bhalerao and Shrikant Yadav. Here are some stills from the film:

About the Director

Avinash Arun is a Director – Cinematographer from Maharashtra, India. Born in the textile town Solapur in 1985 in a middle class Maharashtrian family, he started assisting in FTII Diploma films at the age of 16. He eventually graduated in Cinematography from FTII in 2011. In 2010, his school project “The Light and Her Shadows” won him the cinematography award in Kodak film school Competition. His diploma film “Allah Is Great” was the official entry from India for Student Oscars. It also won several awards including the National award in 2012. Avinash has worked on “Kai Po Che!” (Berlinale Panorama section 2012), Deool (National Award winner 2011). Killa is his first feature film as director. He is also the cinematographer on this film.

Avinash has also shot Vasan Bala‘s short film ‘Geek Out’, which we’ve featured previously on this blog.

Watch the short below:

– Posted by @diaporesis

After the success of Pancham Unmixed, the National Award-winning film on RD Burman, filmmaker Brahmanand Siingh is now working on another feature length biopic, this time on legendary ghazal maestro, Jagjit Singh, titled “Kagaz Ki Kashti…”

“Kaghaz Ki Kashti…” is planned to be an evocative account of a down-to-earth small town boy from Rajasthan who became a legend in no time, but not without his share of struggle. In the process, the film will capture that extra something in his music that gave his compositions a certain polish and a soul at the same time which delighted millions of listeners across countries, cultures and age segments.

Through visual and sensory experiences, the film intends to take us on a journey of his choice of poetry — simple but touching world of Urdu lyrics that he chose to sing (sometimes nazms, sometimes ghazals), setting them to soulful tunes and introducing western instrumentation to make them textured, contemporary, and rich. The film will also take us back in time and trace the zigzag marathon run by a man with passion, fire, and soulful melodies within him, which kept him alight all through his luminous career as well as in some difficult personal times, all with a seamless and gripping narrative.

The lyrical film aims to use his music and the poems he chose to tell his own story of love and loss, of tribulations and triumphs. In the process, the film creates a warm portrayal of the man behind the visible, and the artist behind his creations.

Brahmanand’s previous film “Pancham Unmixed” went on to become a big success at film festivals and won two National Awards, among many others, and was a big draw at over 40 International film festivals.

- For all the updates on the film, click here to go to its FB page.

(via press release)

Echoes, the annual cultural festival of IIM Kozhikode, in association with filmmaker Shekhar Kapur had launched a short film making competition titled “I Love Paani”. We had posted about it here.

The filmmaker has picked his Top 3 favourite shorts, and has tweeted the reasons why he liked them. We are embedding the shorts below each tweet.

 

 

screenwriting-215x300WHAT : NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab 2014 gives an opportunity to six independent screenwriters to develop their skill under the guidance of a variety of industry experts from across the globe. Through one-on-one sessions with their Mentors, the Screenwriter Fellows are advised on tools and techniques required to improve their scripts and methods to pitch the same in the international domain.

WHY : The Screenwriters’ Lab is specially re-designed to prepare screenwriters with original Indian stories for working with the international filmmaking market.

- The Screenwriters’ Lab also creates a unique opportunity for these scripts to gain a direct entry to the Film Bazaar Co-Production Market.

- This two stage script development lab, now in it’s 7th Edition delivers intensive coaching tailored to the precise needs of each writer and project selected for development.

- Screenwriters bring to the lab a script in development to be part of an in-depth group and one to one creative discourse. From session one of the lab at Sarajevo Film Festival, international industry knowledge and sessions with renowned, award winning mentors will prepare the writers to present their projects during NFDC’s Film Bazaar in Goa.

Submission Requirements : 2 page synopsis

•- You will have two months to submit the screenplay if short listed.

Session 1 :

Will be held in Sarajevo, during the 2014 Film Festival. August 15 -23, 2014

Session 2 :

Will be held in Goa, prior to and during the Film Bazaar, 21 – 24 November, 2014

DEADLINE : 5th March, 2014

DETAILS : To know more about the lab, rules and regulations, how to submit, click here.

Gulabi Gang

So far we have been hearing about Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawala starrer Gulaab Gang directed by Soumik Sen. And now, there’s a twist in the tale. A documentary film titled Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain is all set to release before the Bollywood feature. Interestingly, both the films explore the same subject. Our guess is the bollywood film will have much more to it than just the story of Sampat Pal and her Gulabi Gang.

Gulaab Gang is set to release on 7th March, 2014. And PVR Cinemas is releasing the documentary Gulabi Gang on 21st February. Its presented by Sohum Shah, actor-producer of Ship Of Theseus. The film has been doing the festival rounds for quite some time. It also won the Best Director Award in the International Competition section of the recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) of Shorts, Docus and Animation.

Here’s the trailer of the film -

With the comparisons being made, recently Nishtha clarified few things on her FB post. We are copy-pasting it here -

I’m dismayed and partially amused with a lot of wrong reporting in the print and audio-visual media about my views on the Bollywood film Gulaab Gang, about my own film and it’s theatrical release. I guess I should have expected that nuances will get lost but some of the stuff the media has been putting in my mouth is blatant lies. I just want to clarify that:

1. I have not given the name Gulabi Gang to this group of women. They have been working in Bundelkhand since 2006 under this banner. I’ve only made a documentary about their work. This is not the first or the last film on them. There have been many before and I’m sure there’ll be more. And Budelkhand is not a village it’s a linguistic region of UP and MP.

2. Also I’ve never said that the Bollywood film Gulaab Gang is based on my film. I’ve not seen the film, only their trailer. The makers of Gulaab Gang didn’t need to take permission from me but from the real group called Gulabi Gang for using their name, concept etc.

3. I have never said that mine is the first documentary to be released in India, there have been many before.

4. I have never said my film is entertaining. Yes it is in parts but the words I have been using are engaging, engrossing, disturbing, grey, complex etc. Maybe in common parlance that makes the film entertaining.

5. And this quote which is being curculated bereft of it’s original context “I’m not an ‘activist-filmmaker’. Nor am I ‘woman-filmmaker”. This is what I had said in answer to the question by Dear Cinema:

Dear Cinema: In India, most documentary filmmakers are also activists in their own right. How do you see yourself in that light?

Nishtha Jain: I’m not an ‘activist-filmmaker’. Nor am I ‘woman-filmmaker’. I don’t like all these labels. I’m a filmmaker, a feminist and when the need arises, an activist. My films grow out of my world view and interests.

- To know more about Gulabi Gang, click here.

- To read Nishtha Jain’s interview on the film, click here.

Avinash Arun’s directorial debut, the Marathi feature film Killa (The Fort) will have its world premiere at the upcoming Berlinal International Film Festival. The fest runs from February 6-16, 2014.

The film is selected in the Generation Kplus competitive category. IT stars Amruta Subhash, Archit Deodhar, Parth Bhalerao and Shrikant Yadav. Avinash has also shot the film.

Official Synopsis

Killa deals with the universal conflict of migration, and how it impacts the lives of people, especially children. The story revolves around a young boy Chinu who finds it difficult to adjust to his new surroundings where he has migrated to, after his father’s death. But gradually he makes new friends and gains more confidence.

Produced by Madhukar R Musle, Ajay G Rai, Alan McAlex under the banner, Jar Pictures and presented by M R Filmworks, the film was a part of NFDC Film Bazaar’s Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab in 2013.

There are few other Indian films at this edition of Berlin Fest. Gaurav Saxena’s Rangzen will also have its world premiere in Generation Kplus. Imtiaz Ali’s Highway and Papilio Buddha (India/USA) directed by Jayan Cherian will be screened in the Panorama section. Lajwanti (The Honour Keeper) directed by Pushpendra Singh has been selected for Berlinale Forum which is for avant garde, experimental works, essays, long-term observations, political reportage and yet-to-be-discovered cinematic landscapes. Also, Berlinale Talent Campus has selected 3 Indians – Producer Sanjay Shah, documentary filmmaker Nishtha Jain and director/screenwriter Dipesh Jain. More details here.