Posts Tagged ‘Toronto International film festival’

Megha Ramaswamy’s documentary Newborns premiered at Toronto International Film Festival. And now it’s online for a limited time as part of Vimeo’s presentation of TIFF Short Cuts.

Watch it.

From fest site – A hauntingly beautiful documentary that follows female survivors of acid attacks, who bravely defy the trauma and fear that will always accompany them.

Cast, Crew and Other Details

Country: India
Year: 2014
Language: Hindi
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Runtime: 8 minutes
Rating: STC

Producer: Anand Gandhi, Sohum Shah, Ruchi Bhimani
Production Company: Recyclewala Labs
Principal Cast: Laxmi, Nasreen, Sapna, Daya Kishan, Usha, Rupesh Tillu, Heena Agrawal
Screenplay: Megha Ramaswamy
Cinematographer: Satya Rai Nagpaul
Editor: Anand Gandhi, Rohit Pandey
Sound: Ajit Rathore, Aditya Jadav
Production Designer: Megha Ramaswamy

Watch the entire Short Cuts Online Program at: vimeo.com/channels/tiffshortcuts

Tip – ShortFilmWindow

The first trailer of Shonali Bose’s film Margarita With A Straw is out. The film will have its premiere in Contemporary World Cinema section at Toronto International Film Festival. Have a look.

From fest site – In this inspirational love story, a Delhi university student and aspiring writer afflicted with cerebral palsy (Kalki Koechlin, Dev.D, That Girl in Yellow Boots) leaves India for New York University, where she falls for a fiery young activist.

Unusual only because it’s so rarely seen on screen, Margarita, with a Straw is an exceptional portrait of a woman discovering what she wants, and how to get it.

Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is a student and aspiring writer, crafting lyrics and electronic sounds for an indie band at her Delhi university. Her cerebral palsy doesn’t much get in the way of her life, although it sometimes does for others. When Laila’s band wins a local contest, the condescending host says to her, “It must have been so hard for you. Can you share something with us?” Laila shares her middle finger.

Always seeking more freedom and new experience, Laila wins a place at New York University and leaves India with her mother (Revathy) for Manhattan. There she meets a fiery activist, Khanum (Sayani Gupta), who challenges her beliefs, sparks her creativity, and, eventually, takes her to bed. For these two women, it’s the beginning of a remarkable love story.

The programme presents the latest works of some of the most provocative and important voices in cinema from around the globe. Bose’s debut film Amu had also been screened at Toronto in 2005.

For cast, credits and other details, click here. Though we noticed a strange thing in the credit roll of the trailer, even the casting director gets a credit (because he is producer, writer and director too? That too three credits in one plate!) but the (Hindi) dialogue writer doesn’t have a credit. How strange? We have never been to able to understand why people become so insecure and chindi when it comes to credits?

- Posted by @Shubhodeep

Danis Tanovic’s desi film Tigers starring Emraan Hashmi will have its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival this year. Synopsis, cast & crew, and other details of the film is out.

Film

Director: Danis Tanovic
Country: India/France/United Kingdom
Year: 2014
Language: Hindi/English/Urdu/German
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: 14A

Synopsis (from TIFF)

Devastated when he discovers the effects of the infant formula he’s peddling, a young salesman challenges the system and the powers that be, in this based-on-fact drama from Academy Award-winning director Danis Tanovic (No Man’s Land).

Multinationals’ activities in the developing world come under harsh scrutiny in Danis Tanovic’s hard-hitting new drama Tigers. No stranger to controversy, the Academy Award-winning director is unafraid to stick his nose into contentious subject matter. Here, he explores Pakistan’s fascination with Western drugs, basing his film on a true story — its real-life protagonist lives in Toronto — involving a corporation aggressively trying to increase its market share through the sale of baby formula to new mothers.

Ayan (Emraan Hashmi) is a young, recently married salesman who gets a job peddling locally made drugs to pharmacies and doctors. Despite the fact that the Pakistani-manufactured pharmaceuticals he sells are much cheaper than those sold by Western competitors, no one will trust or buy products that lack major brand names. His wife encourages him to apply for a job with Lasta, a large multinational, and Ayan is hired on a trial basis. It’s not long before his natural charm and knack for glad-handing make him into a minor star, and Lasta expands his responsibilities. However, one day he is devastated to see first-hand what the selling of baby formula really means in certain cases. Shocked, Ayan sets out to challenge the system and the powers that be.

In a neat piece of narrative structuring on Tanovic’s part, this David-and-Goliath story is told partially through the eyes of a film crew making a documentary on Ayan’s astonishing findings. But the power of Tigers lies in his willingness to push his film out onto the streets of Pakistan and into the face of a system where narrow interests prevail, and an honest man doing the right thing is castigated and threatened, and finally sees his life endangered.

Cast & Crew

Executive Producer: Karen Tenkhoff, Michael Weber, Praveen Hashmi, Achin Jain
Producer: Prashita Chaudhary, Kshitij Chaudhary, Guneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap, Cedomir Kolar, Marc Baschet, Andy Paterson, Cat Villiers
Production Company: Cinemorphic Pvt Ltd, Sikhya Entertainment Pvt Ltd, A.S.A.P. Films
Principal Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Geetanjali, Danny Huston, Khalid Abdalla, Adil Hussain, Maryam D’Abo, Satyadeep Misra, Heino Ferch, Sam Reid, Supriya Pathak, Vinod Nagpal
Screenplay: Danis Tanovic, Andy Paterson
Cinematographer: Erol Zubcevic
Editor: Prerna Saigal
Sound: Anthony B J Ruban
Music: Pritam
Production Designer: Rachna Rastogi, K.K Muralidharan

Danis Tanovic was born in Zenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and attended l’Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle in Brussels. His feature films include No Man’s Land (01), which won Best Screenplay at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; L’enfer (05) and Triage (09), both of which premiered at the Festival; and An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (13), which screened at the Festival and won the Silver Bear at Berlin. Tigers (14) is his latest film.

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The 2014 edition of Toronto International Film Festival has added 2 more Indian films in its schedule.

Margarita, with a Straw directed by Shonali Bose will have its world premiere Contemporary World Cinema section.

From fest site – In this inspirational love story, a Delhi university student and aspiring writer afflicted with cerebral palsy (Kalki Koechlin, Dev.D, That Girl in Yellow Boots) leaves India for New York University, where she falls for a fiery young activist.The programme presents the latest works of some of the most provocative and important voices in cinema from around the globe. Bose’s debut film Amu had also been screened at Toronto in 2005.

Cast, Credit and other details

Country: India
Year: 2014
Language: Hindi/English
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rating: 14A
Producer: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar
Production Company: Ishan Talkies, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Jakhotia Group
Principal Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Revathy, Sayani Gupta, William Moseley, Hussain Dalal
Screenplay: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar
Cinematographer: Anne Misawa
Editor: Monisha Baldawa
Sound: Resul Pookutty, Amrit Pritam
Music: Mikey McCleary, Prasoon Joshi
Production Designer: Somenath Pakre, Prasun Chakraborty

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The second film is Megha Ramaswamy’s Newborns. It’s part of the inaugural Short Cuts International programme.

From fest site – A hauntingly beautiful documentary that follows female survivors of acid attacks, who bravely defy the trauma and fear that will always accompany them.

Cast, Crew and Other Details

Country: India
Year: 2014
Language: Hindi
Premiere Status: World Premiere
Runtime: 8 minutes
Rating: STC

Producer: Anand Gandhi, Sohum Shah, Ruchi Bhimani
Production Company: Recyclewala Labs
Principal Cast: Laxmi, Nasreen, Sapna, Daya Kishan, Usha, Rupesh Tillu, Heena Agrawal
Screenplay: Megha Ramaswamy
Cinematographer: Satya Rai Nagpaul
Editor: Anand Gandhi, Rohit Pandey
Sound: Ajit Rathore, Aditya Jadav
Production Designer: Megha Ramaswamy

Trailer

The Festival will run from September 4 to 14, 2014.

Mary Kom

A quick update on three fest news.

Omung Kumar’s directorial debut Mary Kom will have its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year. Not really unexpected as TIFF has been picking every kind of bollywood films in the last few years, from Dil Bole Hadippa to Singh Is Kingg. It’s less about the quality of the film, and more to do with the diaspora crowd in Toronto. The fest runs from September 4-14, 2014.

Another directorial debut, Chaitanya Tamhane’s indie feature Court has been selected for the prestigious Venice Film Festival. The film will have its premiere in Orizzonti section of the fest. This competitive section is dedicated to films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema section which aims to spot new trends in cinema. Court had also received Hubert Bals fund for script and project development.

LOL

Another indie feature, Labour Of  Love by Aditya Vikram will be at Venice Days. It’s an independent section at the Venice Film Festival which is promoted by the Italian Association of Filmmakers and authors. The idea was to develop a parallel sidebar on the lines of Directors Fortnight at Cannes.

Screenwriter and lyricist Varun Grover‘s script Maa Bhagwatiya IIT Coaching was selected for NFDC-TIFF’s ScriptLab this year. He not only went to the lab but also managed to catch some of the interesting films at the fest. So over to him for all the dope on the fest and some film reccos.

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Thanks to NFDC’s script lab in association with Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), I got to attend this year’s fest (from 5th to 15th September) in Toronto. Though the first 5 days were devoted mostly to the script lab sessions (with our excellent mentors – Marten Rabarts, Olivia Stewart, and Esther van Driesum – who got the nuances and layers of our scripts so bang-on in spite of being from a culture far removed from ours), I stayed for 5 more days to watch cinema. And I think Toronto has been getting the best line-up of films for the last few years. Oscar season is close-by, TIFF Director Cameron Bailey’s film-hunting/sourcing skills are legendary, and TIFF doesn’t shy away from seemingly non-festival stuff like Gravity and The F Word (on two ends of commercial spectrum) – resulting in a film fest with so many options (with ample repeat screenings) that out of the 16 films I could catch, at least 10 were absolutely stunning and another 3 in #MustWatch category. And I missed at least 7 big films, in addition to many small ones, that I so badly wanted to see. (People’s Choice winner ‘12 Years a Slave’, FIPRESCI winner ‘Ida’, Cannes winners ‘Blue is the warmest color’ and ‘A Touch of Sin’, Richard Ayoade’s ‘The Double’, Reitman’s ‘Labor Day’, and Miyazaki’s last ‘The Wind Rises’.)

But what a smooth fest it was. Never seen volunteers this organized, informed, helpful, cheerful, and above all passionate for cinema! Most of them were students who chose to volunteer because for every 6 hours of work they used to get one movie ticket free. And then there were some who had been doing it for many years – and some (like this 80-year old lady scanning barcodes on our cards outside the venue) who loved being part of the buzz. Every volunteer inside the venue I went to (Scotiabank) knew which movie was playing on which screen, who had directed it, and what was the duration. And they would make a human-chain in the theatre gallery for really crowded screenings (like Gravity’s) so that no one jumps the queue. Met two young filmmakers while waiting in a queue who had volunteered at the fest 3 years ago and they said the recruitment for next year’s volunteers will start soon after this is over, and they prepare for close to 10-months for this level of professionalism.

So here’s the list of films I watched and my 2-line reactions to them:

fifth estateThe Fifth Estate (Bill Condon): Hugely underwhelming. No insights into Assange’s mind or workings or flaws, and more like a Madhur Bhandarkar attempt at cashing-in on the hype around the man. Wannabe Social Network, but with writing so clichéd that even Cumberbatch couldn’t save this one. And later I realized the director, Bill Condon, had made 2 Twilight films before this. That figures.

PrisonersPrisoners (Denis Villeneuve): Sirf naam hi kaafi hai. Villeneuve’s last (Incendies) was one of the best, most explosive film 2 years ago, and hence was really looking forward to this. Turned out it had (my fav) Paul Dano too in it, with (Prestige-faced) Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. And what a spine-chilling film it was! Definitely among the top 3 I saw at TIFF. Villeneuve (with his writer Aaron Guzikowski) enters a David Fincher world but brings much more art-house sensibility (with a Korean psycho fetish angle) and Roger Deakins’ absolutely gorgeous aesthetics to it. Won’t talk about the plot as this film is best savored with a blank slate mind. Doubt we will see a better thriller this year.

Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron): This one was a safe bet – and it still managed to exceed my expectations. By around a 100 light-years. I don’t think I breathed for the 90-minutes it played. Best use of 3-D, green-screen, Sandra Bullock, and space debris yet in cinemas. Watch it on the biggest screen in 3-D please.

The-Strange-Colour-Of-Your-Bodys-Tears-posterThe Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani): I don’t really know what I saw. 4-5 people walked out every 5 minutes and by the time the film ended, only 30-35 of us were left. Something that would make the much acclaimed mad-duo of Belgian cinema happy. Weirdia of the highest order. Lots of blood, nudity, absurdism, zero narration or attempt at it, but everything done with so much class and aesthetic value that difficult to dismiss it. Colors, mood, performances – all screamed ‘installation art’ of highest order.

R100R100 (Hitoshi Matsumoto): One of the best discoveries at TIFF. Directed by Japan’s most absurdist filmmaker and leading comedian, this was weird, funny, cutting-edge satire, and sexual fantasy in equal measures. Brilliantly, genuinely subversive. (And he called it R100 to take a swipe at censor boards who’d give it a rating ‘suitable only for 100-years or older’). Wait for this one!

Enemy posterEnemy (Denis Villeneuve): Yup, DV had two films at the fest. Both with Jake Gyllenhaal in a major role. He apparently shot them back to back and then edited parallel – and seeing how different the genres and mood was, he has to be having two separate brains to do it with so much perfection. Enemy, based on a Jose Saramago novel (yup!) though reminding me of a Satyajit Ray short story ‘Ratan Babu’, has terrific Melanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon giving company to Jake finding his exact double accidently, and is so moody that it feels like a tarantula spider creeping up your back. Just a bit underwhelming when compared to ‘Prisoners’, but is comparison even valid?

MoebiusMoebius (Kim ki Duk): You walk into a Kim ki Duk film expecting bizarre but this one, as far as I know, is bizarre level max he has ever reached. This one is bizarre level ‘eating a dick after cutting it’. This one is bizarre level ‘mom eating son’s dick after cutting it’. (No, it’s not a spoiler, just a warning. This particular sequence is right in the beginning of the film.) And it’s a silent film – completely silent. And it could have been called ‘Dick of Theseus’. And it was the funniest, goriest, sexiest, most disturbing, and thrilling, and taali-seeti worthy film I saw at TIFF. And somehow, Duk manages to push his Buddhist agenda through all this weirdness too. Takes a genius for that. Also among my top 3 there. Must watch if you can handle bleeding dicks.

Gopi GawaiyyaGopi Gawaiyya Bagha Bajaiyya (Shilpa Ranade): The only film at the fest that left me disappointed. Had high hopes with this one – and the art of the film is top-notch. Beautiful frames, decent level of animation, but where it faltered badly was in the dialogues and technicalities of animation. Lines written in clunky, orthodox Hindi and making the background out-of-focus to give depth (in a 2-D animation!) made the film look way tackier than it should have been.

QissaQissa (Anup Singh): A film based on partition, in Punjabi, starring Irrfan and Tillotama Shome and Rasika Duggal and Tisca Chopra! I was already sold. And though it deals with partition in a more symbolic, metaphoric, allegorical way – I was moved immensely by it. Many friends had issues with the logic and amount of suspension of disbelief it demands (basic premise of a father who brings up his daughter as a son without letting anybody else know is a bit of a stretch, yes) – but it still managed to disturb and involve me probably because of the magic realism zone it enters in the 2nd half. And also because of Rasika and Tillotama’s terrific performances. Probably it’s only me but I think the film gives a solid theory on why Punjab has the maximum cases of female foeticide/infanticide. (Qissa won the NETPAC Award at TIFF.)

Why_Dont_You_Play_In_Hell_Banner_4_25_13-726x248Why Don’t You Play In Hell (Shion Sono): Shion Sono of Cold Fish fame is a rockstar already and this film (recommended strongly by my script lab friend Nikhil Mahajan who wanted to watch all the films in Midnight Madness section, a section devoted to all the mad-horror-slasher-campy films, with titles like ‘All Cheerleaders Die’) came with huge expectations. And the first 15-minutes just raise your expectations to the skies. A spoof on Yakuza cinema of Japan, film sags a bit in the middle with spoofs being so subtle that it starts looking serious, but the last 30-minutes or so Sono comes back full-steam and blows your head. And the very last shot adds another magical layer to the entire film! Super-ambitious and super-welldone. (WDYPIH won the best film in Midnight Madness section.)

under-the-skinUnder the Skin (Jonathan Glazer): The creepiest film at TIFF, in spite of it being non-gory, non-gross. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien (nudity is there, perverts) and nothing much happens beyond a pattern (which may be a minor spoiler so avoiding), but the mood, location (cloudy, wet Scotland), Glazer’s solid craft, and Mica Levi’s trance-type BG score make it a super-juicy watch.

Half of a yellow sunHalf of a Yellow Sun (Biyi Bandele): Knew nothing about this film but then Aseem Chhabra recommended it and I found out it’s based on a novel by Chimamanda Adichie (always a big plus for me when a film is based on a book). And it was like a fulfilling novel – a sprawling, excellently recreated epic of 2 sisters and their 2 lovers in the middle of Nigeria-Biafra conflict of the late 60s. Would have been a strong Oscar contender in many categories if it didn’t have an all-black cast and ethos and history. And to make it even more worth it – Thandie Newton and flavor of the season Chiwetel Ejiofor (of 12 Years A Slave fame) hit it out of the park with their excellent performances.

Walesa, Man of HopeWalesa: Man of Hope (Andrzej Wajda): Another of my favorite genres – biopics. And this one is as solid as any I’ve ever seen. Based on the life of Lech Walesa, a man I knew nothing about except vague memories from GK books that he won a Nobel Peace Prize, the film is a bit too political-jargon heavy, but none of it stops it from being a great, engaging film with some godlevel period-recreation detailing. And the use of Polish punk-rock music as a thematic narration device adds so much to the mood of the era. Plus the main lead Robert Wieckiewickz has the charm and power of early Robert De Niro and the actress playing his wife (Danuta Walesa), Agnieszka Grochowska, had a face with so much beauty, pain, and understanding ki mujhe us-se pyaar ho gaya. Triple Ace!

ElanorThe Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – Him and Her (Ned Benson): A mouthful of a title, a seemingly simple drama about a couple’s separation but dive into the film and realize it’s almost as ambitious as Gravity. Two films (of 90 mins each) showing the perception of events through husband’s and wife’s perspective – and so many layers added by just one more perspective to a particular event. And the best part – the film showed as Him-Her and then in another show as Her-Him (the order of perspectives reversed) and that changed the meaning of many scenes for viewers, including the climax. So in a way, it’s a film as well as a perception game! Interactive cinema done so simply. And I’ve not even started on how sensitive, brilliant, and insightful Ned Benson’s writing is. This one too, among my top 3 at TIFF.

ThouThou Gild’st The Even (Onur Unlu): Shot in crisp 35 mm black and white and great to look at, but kuchh samajh nahin aaya so walked out after 30 minutes. Read more about it here and go WTF.

The f wordThe F Word (Michael Dowse): Don’t even ask me why I went to see this one. (There wasn’t anything else playing at that time, mainly that’s why. Also ‘cos Dowse made the terrific ‘It’s All Gone Pete Tong’.) A standard rom-com, most likely to make profit if it releases during Christmas or Valentine’s Day, with some very funny lines, and some very average clichés, but done well. Zoe Kazan is excellent, crush-worthy, yet again after Ruby Sparks (which she by the way wrote too), and Daniel Radcliffe is stuck in that odd place/age where Kunal Khemu and Jugal Hansraj have already been.

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Toronto International Film Festival has come to an end, and has announced the winners  for this year.

Here’s the good news – An Indian co-production, Anup Singh’s Qissa has bagged the NETPAC Award at this year’s fest. The film stars Irrfan Khan, Tillotama Shome, Rasika Dugal and Tisca Chopra. This Punjabi film is written by Anup Singh and Madhuja Mukherjee. And here’s what the official release says -

As selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, the NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere goes to Anup Singh’s Qissa. Jury members include Jay Jeon (Korea), Intishal Al Timimi (Abu Dhabi) and Freddie Wong (Hong Kong). The jury remarked: “The NETPAC Award for the best Asian film at Festival 2013 goes to Qissa, directed by Anup Singh, for its sensitive portrayal of the issues of identity and displacement that affect people not only in India, but in all parts of the world and for brilliance of cinematic craft and the choice of metaphor that has been employed to tell a moving story that is bound to provoke thoughts, spark debate and give its viewers an intense experience.

TRAILER

TIFF NOTE & SYNOPSIS

Set amidst the ethnic cleansing and general chaos that accompanied India’s partition in 1947, this sweeping drama stars Irrfan Khan — also appearing at the Festival in The Lunchbox — as a Sikh attempting to forge a new life for his family while keeping their true identities a secret from their community.

Beautiful, timeless, and touching the deepest of human impulses, Qissa carries the spirit of a great folk tale. Although it’s set in a particular time and place — the Punjab region that straddles India and Pakistan in the years immediately after partition — it is both deeper and broader than any one moment. As this eerie family drama progresses, it cuts to the heart of eternal desires for honour, empathy, and love.

One of India’s best actors, Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Festival premiere The Lunchbox, and a feature guest in this year’s Mavericks programme) plays Umber Singh, a Sikh uprooted by the religious violence that came with partition in 1947. He and his family move to a safer locale, and it is here that the story takes a remarkable turn. Having already fathered daughters, Singh now wants a son. When his next child is born he celebrates his wish come true, but there is one problem: the baby is in fact a girl.

“Qissa” is originally an Arabic word meaning folk tale. Both the word and the idea migrated from the Gulf into the Punjab, still connected by the ancient oral narratives handed down in communal settings. Working within this tradition, director Anup Singh gives his film both the grand themes and elemental emotions of classic storytelling. As Umber’s daughter is raised as a boy, the characters are propelled with greater and greater urgency towards their inevitable fates.

Part of a new generation of directors with feet firmly planted in India and far beyond, Singh has delivered a film immediately accessible to anyone sensitive to the conflicts that drive classic stories: fear versus hubris, individual need versus social codes. Qissa is a Punjabi story for the whole world.

DIRECTOR

Anup Singh was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He has written film reviews for Sight & Sound, directed Indian television, and consulted for BBC Two. His features as director are The Name of a River (02) and Qissa (13).

CAST & CREW

Director: Anup Singh

Countries: Germany / India / Netherlands / France

Year: 2013

Language: Punjabi

Runtime: 109 minutes

Rating: 14A

Producer: Johannes Rexin, Bettina Brokemper

Production Co.: Heimatfilm, National Film Development Corporation of India, Augustus Film, Ciné-Sud Promotion

Principal Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tillotama Shome, Rasika Dugal, Tisca Chopra

Screenplay: Anup Singh, Madhuja Mukherjee

Cinematographer: Sebastian Edschmid

Editor: Bernd Euscher

Sound: Peter Flamman

Music: Béatrice Thiriet

Prod. Designer: Tim Pannen

Int. Sales Agent: The Match Factory