Archive for the ‘Indie’ Category

Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to certify Alankrita Srivastava’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha. And the reason given are pure WTF. Here is the letter issued by CBFC. Do read.

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Click here to read the full report. This is not the first time that they have been so dumb about certifying a film. And this surely won’t be the last. With bonafide morons at the helm of affairs, what else can one expect.

And the best part is the film has been doing the fest rounds for quite some time and has been getting some great reviews.

 

The 2017 edition of Berlin International Film Festival has come to an end and the awards were declared tonight. Some good news for two Indian films at the Berlinale – Amit Masurkar’s Newton and Amar Kaushik’s Aaba.

Newton was given the CICAE Art Cinema Award in the Forum section of the fest. The “Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai” (C.I.C.A.E.), the International Confederation of Art House Cinemas, forms one jury for the Panorama and one for the Forum. Each jury awards one prize in its section. Pedro Barbadillo, Tanja Milicic and Rainer Wothe were in the jury panel for Forum section.

CICAE was founded in 1956 by the national art house cinema associations of Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland as an international lobby or pressure-group in order to support the art cinema sector and to protect the cinematographic diversity against the supremacy of so-called commercial filmmaking. Since then it unites about 3000 independent as well as already nationally associated art house cinemas, 15 festivals and a certain number of film distributors from approximately 30 countries from all over the world in an international umbrella association.

The Art Cinema Award is awarded twelve times a year to art house films at certain cooperating festivals such as the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, Panorama and Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin and the Venice Film Festival.

Amar’s Kaushik’s Aaba has been awarded the Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Short Film. This includes cash award of  € 2,500 by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany). The jury noted that it tells a story of the circle of life in an elegiac and slow pace with a beautiful cinematography.

Filmmaker Gurvinder Singh has been quite vocal about the steps that the Government has taken regarding Film and Television Institute Of India (FTII) in the last two years. He criticised Gajendra Singh’s appointment, and also refused the National Award last year in protest against the choices made by the jury. Now, there is another controversy regarding a diploma film which was being shot. Click here to read about it.

On his FB page, Gurvinder has clarified his stand on the controversy.

Some stills from ‘Sea of Lost Time’, the diploma film for acting students of FTII which I was directing but stopped midway due to exceeding the ‘shooting ratio’!

The real reasons though lie elsewhere. ‘Shooting ratio’ is a relic from the age of shooting on film stock. One student was rusticated just before the shoot started. He filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court challenging his rustication and pleading he be allowed to act in the film. I gave a statement stating if the court allows he can join the shoot. Which is what the court did. That made the FTII administration, and specially the Head of Department of Acting, Tom Alter, see red. And dutifully the axe fell on the shoot.

The reason: I had exceeded the shooting ratio! Yes, I did. But the norm was thrown at me after the shoot started. I even offered to delete the excessive footage and comply with the norm for rest of the shoot if the norm was so vital to the shooting of the film. But no. All pleas fell on deaf ears. I was given a letter asking to proceed with editing the half-shot film! The entire class and the crew of the film are being penalised for supporting the rusticated student. I wonder if the film will be completed ever.

But we shall fight! The work of the students and all of us who have worked hard on the film deserves to be seen. But the film under production is of no concern to the administration of the Institute. All they care for is ‘norms’ and ‘rules’, which helps them in their vendetta. Tom Alter, backed by the Director and the Chairman of the Institute, and I suppose with full backing of the I&B ministry, have all ganged up to stop this shoot. This is what happens when you appoint mediocre people who have no eligibility to head such institutes.

Vengeance is all that they are there for.

He also shared some stills from the shoot. Click on any still to start the slide show.

(PS – And if you are philistine like this current Government or Gajendra Chauhan, bit on Gurvinder here – An alumni of FTII, Gurvinder Singh is one of the most promising and fearless young filmmaking talent in the current generation. Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction) premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2015. His debut feature film, Anhe Ghorey De Daan, was selected to premiere at Venice International Film Festival. And it bagged 3 National Film Awards – For Direction, Cinematography, and for Best Punjabi Film)

Amit Masurkar’s new film Newton had its world premiere at the ongoing Berlin International Film Festival. Here’s all the buzz about the film from the fest.

(click on any of the pic to start the slide show)

Finding humour in the tenuous nature of democracy might be a hard task on the global stage at present; however, in Newton’s darkly comic exploration of one official’s attempt to uphold the election process in India, it’s simpler than it sounds. The second film from writer/director Amit V Masurkar bows in Berlinale’s Forum section with a sense of chaos and absurdity, while remaining aware of the drama of reality. When the feature emphasises either extreme, it proves engaging viewing.

–  From Screen Daily’s review. Click here to read the full review.

– Rajeev Masand’s video-blog on the film –

 

Newton is a very important film, despite its satirical tones, laced with a lot of humour and irony. It is a film that should make viewers think about how important their right to cast a vote is.

– from Aseem Chhabra’s report on the film. Click here to read the full report

Newton is a brave attempt. Because it uses the feature film format to tell a story about on-going violence and exploitation and cynical political aggrandisement : anytime you hear the words Naxal, or Maoist in a film, it falls into the tried and tested formula. Newton breaks that mould, refreshes hardened tropes, and makes us smile and think. Really hard. Because what effects India Interior today will one day ripple over and claw its way into our complacent urban, mall-infested enclaves.

– from Indian Express. Click here to read the full report.

– Some tweets on the film:

(pics taken from Twitter)

the-unreserved

While watching Garath Davis’ film Lion last week, i was wondering why we don’t shoot the Indian Railways the way these firangi directors capture it in their films. Remember the thrilling sequence with the kid hanging upside down in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire? Till 80s, we were still portraying the trains in our films. But now it’s limited to occasional chaiyya chaiyya or tap tap tippa.

And here comes an entire film set in our railways. Three friends – Samarth Mahajan, Rajat Bhargava, and Omkar Divekar embarked on a train journey covering a distance of about 25,000 km over a period of 17 days. They documented their stories on twitter too (click the thread embedded in post). Almost after a year, all these stories have turned into a film.

Here’s the trailer of the film

The film will be available online from 15th Feb.

Great news coming from the ongoing International Film Festival Rotterdam. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s film Sexy Durga has won the top award (Hivos Tiger Award) at the main competition section of the fest.

The Hivos Tiger Award is the festival’s flagship competition. This year, eight new films competed for the coveted Hivos Tiger Competition award, which is accompanied by a €40.000 cash prize. The jury admired the film Sexy Durga : “For its daring and resourceful approach in creating a mood of constant tension, providing an insight into multi-layered power dynamics of gender, class and authority.”

Trailer

Official Synopsis

Goddess or whore? Two extreme views of women intermingle in this largely improvised spine-chiller. During a nocturnal ride, a young woman and her lover encounter a cross-section of Indian male society. What starts out as an attempt to escape descends into a journey through hell – from which no escape is possible.

This ominous road movie about two lovers on the run is interspersed with footage of a Hindu festival in the southern Indian province of Kerala. Men dance ecstatically, walk across red-hot coals and push metal skewers through their faces. Some are hauled into the air on metal hooks stuck through the skin of their backs and thighs, dangling above the crowd like the mythical eagle Garuda. All in honour of Kali, embodiment of the rage of the mother goddess, Durga. Her likeness – four arms bearing her weapons and a severed head – is carried through the village in procession.

Durga is also the name of a young woman trying in the dead of night to take a train to a far-off destination with her lover, Kabeer. First they have to reach the station, for which they depend on the kindness of strangers. But the help offered to them quickly takes on dubious forms; the police are too involved in their own business and the isolation of the night completes the oppressive atmosphere.

Sanal Kumar Sasidharan made his previous feature film, An Off-Day Game, without a script; for Sexy Durga he even dispensed with a pre-set narrative. Here, he investigates how obsessiveness and worship can quickly degenerate in a patriarchal society into a mentality of oppression and abuse of power.

Director

After completing studies in Zoology and Law, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan (1977, India) started work as a lawyer. As a film fanatic, he used his network to found Kazhcha Film Forum, a crowdfunding platform for the production of independent films. This provided a financial basis to make his own films. Kumar Sasidharan’s short and feature films have received many awards in international film festivals.

Filmography

Wonder World (2001, short), Parole (2008, short), Frog (2012, short), Oraalppokkam/Six Feet Height (2014), Ozhivudivasathe Kali/An Off-Day Game (2015), Sexy Durga (2017)

 

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More good news coming from Berlin International Film Festival. Two more Indian features have been selected for this year’s edition.

Amit V Masurkar’s sophomore feature Newton is all set to make its World Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. The Drishyam Films produced feature will be screened in the ‘Forum’ section of the Berlinale which features ‘avant-garde, experimental works, political reportage and yet-to-be-discovered cinematic landscapes’.

Newton was part of the Co-Production Market (CPM) at Film Bazaar, 2015 and also one of the Film Bazaar Recommends titles at Film Bazaar 2016. The film stars Rajkummar Rao in the title role and is a sharp political black comedy that takes place on an election day in Central India. Rajkummar Rao plays Newton, a rookie clerk on election duty in a conflict-ridden jungle of Chhattisgarh, who tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of an attack by Maoist rebels. The supporting cast includes Anjali Patil, Pankaj Tripathi and Raghubir Yadav. 

lady of the lake

The second film, Haobam Paban Kumar’s Manipuri film Loktak Lairembee (Lade Of The Lake) is also selected in the same ‘Forum’ section of the fest. The film has been doing the fest rounds for quite some time now and was also the winner of top prize in the India Gold section of Mumbai Film Festival.

Haobam has 5 National Film Awards and 5 Indian Panorama Selections to his credit. The film Loktak Lairembee (Lady of the lake) is his debut fiction feature film.

Here’s the official synopsis of the film –

Loktak Lake is a unique ecosystem where fishermen lived in huts built on floating biomasses. In 2011, the authorities, in the name of protecting serenity of the ecosystem, burnt down the huts leaving thousands of fishermen homeless. Tomba, one of the victims, lives with a harrowing nightmare of looming displacement since then. He is haunted by seamless fear of further intervention of authorities that would make him homeless forever. Confined in his makeshift hut, Tomba senses the spirit of evil around, while his wife Thambalsang works hard to make their living. One fine morning Tomba accidentally finds a gun hidden within the biomass. He marvels with the gun as his power of self-protection. He transforms himself to an assertive man who is looking for an appropriate offense. One day, an old lady who mysteriously wanders in the lake, knocks at his door in the middle of the night. Fearful Tomba, anticipating the lady as the spirit of all evils, chases her and commits an unintended crime.

Trailer