Six under-production documentaries and a ready-made fictional feature film from South Asia are seeking production and distribution breakthroughs in pitching and mentoring sessions coinciding with the 74th Cannes Film Festival.
” Eka (Solo) ”, the feature debut by Calcutta-born and Mumbai-based Suman Sen, is in La Fabrique Cinema, a mentoring program sponsored by the French Institute for young directors.
We are only one draft away. If the pandemic situation allows, we will start filming in mid-2022, ” says Sen, who has worked in the advertising industry for 15 years. “The film reflects the times I have lived in for the past two years: a time of hatred, intolerance and violence,” Sen said.
” Eka ” rests on a large statue of ‘the common man’ about to be officially unveiled in Kolkata. A diabetic insurance agent, a man on the verge of retirement, is seething over the city’s economic, political and cultural failures. To register his protest, he stands motionless in front of the mammoth statue. His act of defiance sparks a worldwide movement. “I have a love-hate relationship with Kolkata,” says Sen, who moved to India’s financial capital five years ago. I wanted to distance myself from the city I grew up in and see it objectively. The move to Mumbai gave me a new, reflective lens to see Kolkata. ââ Eka, âan Indo-Bangladeshi-French company backed by Arifur Rahman of Goopy Bagha Productions, is one of 10 projects at La Cinema Made.
Another South Asian selection from La Fabrique is Afghan filmmaker Sahra Mani’s multi-award-winning documentary âKabul Melodyâ about two teenage girls facing family opposition and threats from the Taliban as they sue. their passion for music.
In his statement of intent, Mani, who did the highly acclaimed âA Thousand Girls Like Meâ (2018), said: âBeing a filmmaker in Afghanistan means being a social activist. Still, with ‘Kabul Melody’ I want to show hope and the emergence of free will among the women who will create the future of Afghanistan. ” A quartet of South Asian documentaries – each from Afghanistan, from Bangladesh, India and Nepal – is shortlisted for the docs-in-progress awards at Cannes Docs 2021. These projects, all at an advanced stage of production, are presented by the International Film Initiative of Bangladesh.
Among the four is ‘Thirteen Destinations of a Traveler’, a film by Kolkata-based Partha Das. It combines two journeys: one by thousands of Sufi pilgrims who travel for miles and days to proclaim their love for humanity, the other by a disabled and marginalized Muslim man struggling against physical obstacles and social prejudices to the search of happyness.
‘Thirteen Destinations of a Traveler’, Das’ first feature documentary, is jointly produced by Bangladesh Mokhalesur Rahman Talukdar and India Soumya Mukhopadhyay.
The other three South Asian films from Cannes Docs 2021 are Hezbollah Sultani’s âBirds Street,â on a Kabul alley lined with shops selling birds; âMunniâ by Tahrima Khan, which features the work of a former victim of child marriage who starts a girls’ sports academy in Bangladesh; and ” Devi ” by Subina Shrestha, the story of a former Nepalese guerrilla fighter and wartime rape survivor who now fights for her compatriots.
Another Nepalese documentary, âNo Winter Holidaysâ by Rajan Kathet and Sunir Pandey, is one of five HAF Goes to Cannes projects. The Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum (HAF) is an initiative that helps a new generation of filmmakers access global funding, co-production agreements and marketing support.
The diary of ‘No Winter Holidays’, a Nepalese-Korean co-production, reads:’ Once married to the same man, two women in their 70s must forget the past and work together to make each other. occupy an empty snow- bound village through the winter. ” PTI CORR RDS RDS
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