This year’s Cannes Film Festival has a strong subcontinental flavor. Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the world’s most influential film festival has lined up films from India, Pakistan and Nepal for the official selection for the May 17-28 event. The three neighboring countries are part of a consultative program for a new generation of filmmakers from emerging countries at the Cannes Festival Market, March du Film. In March, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and France, Du Film has already declared India a land of honor.
The stories and social challenges of local heroes today underline the power of subcontinental cinema, which is reflected in the selection of ears from the region. In the special screening program of the festival, Delhi-based filmmaker Shaunak Sen’s documentary All That Breads, two brothers about saving birds of prey from the polluted air of the city. The film, which won the Sundance Festival Top Award for World Film in January of this year, was screened with a new documentary by Oscar-winning American director Ethan Koen (Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in the Mind) and Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa (The The The Screen Space). Shared. Natural History of Destruction) and Chilean director Patricio Guzman (My Imaginary Country) in the special screening section of the ear.
“This year has been especially good for Indian cinema and especially for documentaries. Major international festivals have been well-received for Indian non-fiction. There is of course curiosity for regional stories. Our film is the story of a black dragon from Delhi, “said Sen, who was surprised to hear All That Breaths call for Cannes.
A film school production from India also took place this year, reflecting the depth of the next generation of Indian filmmakers. An alumnus of Mumbai’s Whistling Woods International, the first Khurana boatman, is among 16 films in the La Cinep (formerly Cinefoundation) category, selected from 1,528 entries from film schools around the world. In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, Khurana created a 26-minute film for his final semester on the Whistling Woods International undergraduate filmmaking program, telling the relationship between a sick old man and his caregiver. Nauha, an Urdu word meaning “mourning for loss”, was shot in Noida on the outskirts of Delhi last year. Khurana said, “Urbanization and relocation are the big themes of cinema. Catdog, a film and television institute of India (FTII), Pune production, led by Asmita Guha, won the top prize of 15,000-euro (about `12 million) in the Cannes Film School competition in 2020. Another FTII alumnus, Pawel Kapadia, was the first Indian film to be released at the 2017 Cannes Film School competition.
Growing respect for the work of the new generation of filmmakers in the subcontinent is also reflected in the selection of Pakistani film Joyland in the Uncertain Regard category for a new voice in world cinema at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, a year later by Bangladeshi director Abdullah Mohammad. Saad’s Rehana Maryam Noor is in the same category. Rehana Maryam Noor, Bangladesh’s own MeToo story, confronted with a failed attempt by a medical student professor to expose the sexual harassment of her classmate, Jayland explores a flourishing sexual rebellion in a patriarchal family. Directed by Sim Sadiq, who studied filmmaking at Columbia University in New York, Joyland Hall is a feature extension of the director’s own short film, Darling, which won the Best Short Film Award at the 2019 Venice Festival.
Nepali director Abinash Vikram Shah’s Lori (Melancholy of My Mother’s Lulabis) is one of the nine films competing for Pam D’Or for Best Short Film this year. Selected from 3,507 films from 140 countries, Lori is the first Nepali film to be selected in the competition section of the Cannes Festival. A well-known screenwriter, Shah’s story for the screen explores personal relationships. La Fabric Cinema Mentorship Program at the Shah Can Festival Film Market is also part of her first feature film project, Elephants in the Fog, about a group of transgender women responsible for patrolling wild elephants that are in conflict with nearby human settlements. “In our society, where conservative ideologies can sometimes occupy humanity and sympathy, those who want what our society forbids them to do are often marginalized. They fail in the eyes of society, and are thrown aside, “said Shah, a former student at Locarno Filmmakers Academy. Anup Paudel, producer of the Kathmandu-based independent production house, Underground Talkies Nepal, added, “We are actively partnering with a new generation of filmmakers who strive to tell bold, original and authentic stories.”
The new generation
Starfruits, a Hindi language feature project, directed by Gaurab Kumar Mallick, is one of ten projects in various stages of development, mentored in the La Fabric Cinema program this year to help young filmmakers from emerging countries gain international experience. Last year, another Indian project by Sumon Sen, born in Kolkata about a single protest against a huge statue of the common man in the West Bengal capital, was the only Indian entry in the movie La Fabric. Set in Mumbai in the 90s, Starfuits, which runs through casting and location scouting, tells the love story of a young gangster and his male friend. In addition to two Indian and Nepali projects, the Pakistani film Panah Khana (Haven of Hope) completed a subcontinental addition to the movie La Fabric. Directed by Pakistani artist and filmmaker Seemab Gul, Panah Khana is about three prisoners from a shelter for women who enter the outside world for a day. At an advanced stage of development, the film addresses women’s rights and mental health. “The film’s focus is less on women’s mental health, but how their prudence is called into question when they demand their rights; The rights of their children, divorce and especially their inheritance, “explained Abid Aziz Merchant, producer of Karachi-based films. “I firmly believe that the only way to feel our presence in this highly competitive world cinema is to show the world our uniqueness and our strengths, our culture and our reality,” added Merchant, who has left a lucrative banking career. Launched in 2013 by Sanat Initiative, an independent film production company.
Michelle Hazanavicius, a French zombie film, Final Cut, directed by Oscar-winning film The Artist, will open the festival on May 17. “This is the story of the shooting of a zombie movie,” said Thierry Framox, art director at the Cannes Festival. “The film manages to entertain as well as inform.” This is the second time since American director Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die in 2019, a zombie movie. The then small fishing village on the shores of the Mediterranean. Films competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or include Belgian filmmakers Brother Jean-Pierre and Luke Darden’s Tori and Lokita, Romanian Christian Mungiur RMN, Canadian director David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future and Amer. Gray. The competition has five female directors: French director Claire Dennis (Stars at Noon), American director Kelly Richard (Showing Up), who has an Indian-origin producer, Anish Savjani (who also produced Ritesh Batra’s film), and French filmmaker. Leonor Serraille (mother and son) and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Forever Young), and Belgian actor-director Charlotte Vandermirsch, who co-directed The Eight Mountains with compatriot Felix van Groningen.
Faizal Khan is a freelancer