Saturday, June 22, 2024

Indian documentary ‘The Golden Thread’ awarded Golden Conch award for the Best Documentary Film of the Festival

The prestigious Golden Conch award for the Best Documentary Film of the Festival in International Category was awarded to the Indian film ‘The Golden Thread’ directed by Nistha Jain. The film, which follows the weft and warp of jute work in Kolkata, is both an homage and an observation of the last vestiges of the industrial revolution impacted by economic change.

Under the twinkling lights of Mumbai's iconic skyline, the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short Fiction, and Animation films concluded, illuminating the City of Dreams with the brilliance of cinematic artistry. The city that never sleeps reverberated with the echoes of storytelling and creativity, reaching its crescendo with a spectacular closing ceremony graced by Maharashtra Culture Minister Shri Sudhir Mungantiwar.

Celebrities, filmmakers, and luminaries from the film and entertainment world gathered to celebrate the festival's resounding success and the enchanting magic of non-feature cinema. Among them were Shekhar Suman, Shaji N. Karun, Subbiah Nallamuthu, Poonam Dhillon, Chaya Kadam, Ammie Barauh, Akshay Oberoi and Vishal Malhotra among others.

Delivering his keynote address, Shri Sudhir Mungantiwar, Culture Minister, Government of Maharashtra said that our filmmakers are the Kohinoors of our nation. "When we move forward, our heritage and every subject connected to our films will move forward.  The capacities of those sitting here are such that they can reach the depths of our souls through their art; depths even doctors may not reach," he added. He urged everyone to leave MIFF with a renewed perspective and a commitment to increasing their capacities in the years to come.

The Minister also congratulated the Government of India for its efforts in promoting talented filmmakers through this esteemed medium. Highlighting the transformative power of films, he stated, "Films are a mirror to the society and lead to social transformation. A single dialogue from this sector can transform a person’s life."

Shri Mungantiwar also underscored the multifaceted role of films, stating, "Films are not only a source of entertainment but also a power station that develops personalities. When personalities are developed, societies develop, and when societies develop, the nation develop." He concluded his speech with a call to action, encouraging everyone to come together through the medium of film to take the pride of our nation to every house and heart across the globe.

Sharing the International Competition Jury’s views about the competing films, Shri Bharat Bala, Chairman of the Jury said that they were inspired by the narratives of cultural values around the world which still place family at the centre of our lives and the resilience of humanity that encourage all to become better version of ourselves. “Soul of all the documentaries reflected the culture of humanity and culture that we live and breathe from across the world. We expect all of us to invest more in documentaries so that humanity can thrive”, he added.

Indian producer Apoorva Bakshi, the Chairperson of National Jury of MIFF said that jury was honoured to witness strong, profound, and poignant narratives emerging from different parts of India. “The highlight of viewing experience was how filmmakers across the board deconstructed the anatomy of patriarchy and portrayed male relationships through a tender lens which was seldom explored”, she added.

Golden Conch award for ‘The Golden Thread’
The prestigious Golden Conch award for the Best Documentary Film of the Festival in International Category was awarded to the Indian film The Golden Thread directed by Nistha Jain. The film, which follows the weft and warp of jute work in Kolkata, is both an homage and an observation of the last vestiges of the industrial revolution impacted by economic change. The jury noted that the film illustrates the relationship of man to machine while questioning the equation by which capitalism values man only in terms of his labor. The stunning imagery and sound weave a beautiful narrative that underscores the compelling nature of documentary filmmaking. The award includes a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakhs. ‘The Golden Thread’ was also screened as the Closing film of the festival.

The Silver Conch award for the Best International Short Fiction Film was bestowed upon the Estonian film ‘Sour Milk’, directed by Vera Pirogova. The film eloquently portrays the intricate bond between mother and son, weaving a narrative, rich in expectation and disappointment. This award also includes a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs.

The Polish film Zima, directed by Tomek Popakul and Kasumi Ozeki, received the Silver Conch award for the Best Animation Film in the International Competition section, accompanied by a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs.

Lovely Jackson, directed by Matt Waldeck, received the Jury’s Special Mention in the International Competition category. The jury was inspired by the film's spirituality and the creative techniques used to tell its compelling story.

Technical Awards for Best Sound Design was awarded jointly to Niraj Gera and Abhijit Sarkar for their excellence in the films The Golden Thread and Dhara Ka Tem (Time for Milking). Best Editor award at the MIFF was awarded jointly to Vignesh Kumulai for Karparaa and Irene Dhar Mallik for From the Shadows. Award for Best Cinematography was bestowed jointly upon Babin Dulal and Suraj Thakur for Dhorpatan: No Winter Holidays and Entangled respectively.

The Pramod Pati Award for Most Innovative/Experimental Film was awarded to the Japanese film The Old Young Crow, directed by Liam Lopinto, for its inventive and magical storytelling of multiple dualities. The award includes a trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

The Silver Conch award for Best Indian Documentary Film went to 6-A Akash Ganga, directed by Nirmal Chander Dandriyal. The film, which draws viewers into the reclusive world of legendary musician Annapurna Devi, includes a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs.

The Silver Conch Award for the Best Indian Short Fiction Film (up to 30 minutes) was awarded to Salt, directed by Barkha Prashant Naik. The film explores the tender inter-generational understanding of sexuality in a poignant and beautifully crafted father-son story. This award includes a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakhs.

Nirjara, directed by Gaurav Pati, won the Silver Conch award for the Best Indian Animation Film. The film, which tells the story of two brothers reuniting during grief-ridden rituals on the ghats of Ganga, includes a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakhs.

A Coconut Tree, directed by Joshy Benedict, received the Jury’s Special Mention in the National Competition section for addressing the urgent topics of migration and climate change.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari Award for Best Debut Director at MIFF 2024 was awarded to Sreemoyee Singh for her film Towards Happy Alleys, which also won the FIPRESCI International Critic Jury award at MIFF. The awards include a trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

The IDPA award for the Best Student Film at MIFF was awarded to Chanchisoa (Expectation), a Garo film directed by Elvachisa Ch Sangma and Dipankar Das. The award includes a trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

The Best Short Film Award on India in Amrit Kaal was awarded to Life in Loom, directed by Edmond Ranson, which explores the socio-economic and climatic challenges faced by weaver communities in India. The award includes a trophy, certificate, and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

The evening left the audience spellbound with colorful, vibrant, and eclectic cultural performances that set the stage on fire. The technical committee of the festival and film personalities were felicitated at the function. Shri Prithul Kumar, Festival Director & Managing Director, NFDC, proposed the vote of thanks.

MIFF 2024 in a nutshell:
This edition of MIFF proudly showcased a diverse array of 314 films from 59 countries, presented in 61 languages. The festival featured an impressive lineup, including 8 world premieres, 5 international premieres, 18 Asia premieres, and 21 India premieres, highlighting the global appeal and unique storytelling prowess of filmmakers worldwide. A significant highlight of MIFF 2024 was the introduction of the Documentary Film Bazaar, a groundbreaking initiative that offered filmmakers an exceptional platform to engage with buyers, sponsors, and collaborators. This innovative event attracted nearly 200 projects from 10 countries, spanning 27 languages, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas and opportunities.

Festival attendees were also treated to masterclasses by renowned filmmakers such as Alphonse Roy, Nemil Shah, Shaji N. Karun, Audrius Stonys, Santhosh Sivan, and Subbiah Nallamuthu, among others. These sessions provided invaluable insights into the art of filmmaking, enriching the knowledge and skills of aspiring and established filmmakers alike. Panel discussions at MIFF 2024 delved into contemporary and innovative topics related to documentary, short fiction, and animation filmmaking. Delegates explored new facets of filmmaking, promotion, and distribution, broadening their understanding of the industry's evolving landscape. Additionally, a workshop on Animation and VFX pipeline, led by a senior animator from Warner Brothers, captivated participants with its in-depth exploration of cutting-edge techniques.

The Open Forums, organized by the Indian Documentary Producers Association, sparked engaging and heated discussions on pertinent issues such as documentary funding, artificial intelligence, OTT platforms, and filmmaking in the era of social media. These forums provided a dynamic space for professionals to debate and share insights on the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today. MIFF 2024 has once again affirmed its status as a premier platform for global cinematic exchange, fostering creativity, collaboration, and the celebration of diverse storytelling traditions from around the world.

Sonakshi Sinha, Riteish Deshmukh-starrer 'Kakuda' to debut on ZEE5 in July

Written by Chirag Garg and Avinash Dwivedi, Kakuda is an upcoming Hindi-language horror comedy directed by Aditya Sarpotdar and produced by Ronnie Screwvala, under RSVP Movies... 

Horror comedy Kakuda, featuring Sonakshi Sinha, Riteish Deshmukh and Saqib Saleem, will premiere on ZEE5 on July 12, the platform announced on Friday. The movie is directed by Aditya Sarpotdar, whose horror comedy Munjya is currently running in theatres. The streamer shared the news of the film's release date in a post on social media platform X. “Purushon Ke Hit Mein Jaari- #Kakuda aa raha hai ‘12 July' ko, toh ghar pe rahein aur theek 7:15 baje, darwaza khula rakhna naa bhoolein. Kyunki #AbMardKhatreMeinHai, #Kakuda only on #ZEE5,” the company posted. Kakuda is set in the village of Ratodi in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura district.

Purushon Ke Hit Mein Jaari ⚠️- #Kakuda aa raha hai ‘12 July' ko, toh ghar pe rahein aur theek 7:15 baje, darwaza khula rakhna naa bhoolein. 👻 Kyunki #AbMardKhatreMeinHai, #Kakuda only on #ZEE5  #KakudaOnZEE5

“While Ratodi seems like any other village, it isn't because of the curse inflicted upon it for years. Every house in the district has two similar looking doors, one that is normal size and one which is smaller than the other. The film revolves around a peculiar ritual that demands the opening of the smaller door of each house every Tuesday at 7:15 PM sharp. Failure to comply with this rule invites the wrath of Kakuda, who punishes the man of the house. But who is Kakuda… Why does he punish the men in the village? How will the villagers get rid of the curse? Beware! Ab Mard Khatre Me Hai!” according to the official synopsis.

Gujarat HC allows release of 'Maharaj' says film does not target any sect

“Having viewed the film, this court found nothing objectionable that would hurt religious feelings of petitioners or a sect. The core message of the film revolves around social evil and the fight against it by social reformer Karasandas Mulji, who was also from a Vaishnavite community,” the judge said while reading out the order in the court.... 

The Gujarat High Court on Friday lifted its stay to the release of Maharaj, debut film of Bollywood star Aamir Khan's son Junaid, observing that it did not target the Vaishnav Pushtimarg sect as alleged by its members. Some members of the Pushtimarg sect had filed a petition against its release, claiming that the film hurt religious sentiments. The film has nothing objectionable or derogatory, the court said after watching it, and allowed its release on streaming platform Netflix.

The film is based on an 1862 libel case which was centred on a clash between a Vaishnavite religious leader and social reformer Karsandas Mulji. He, in an article published in a Gujarati weekly, had alleged that the godman had sexual relations with his female devotees, leading to the case for defamation which the social reformer won.

Justice Sangeeta Vishen of the Gujarat High Court, who had granted an interim stay to the film on June 13, a day before its scheduled release, watched the film on Thursday before passing the order. Allowing the film's release on Friday, Justice Vishen refused to stay her order as requested by the Pushtimarg sect's lawyer Mihir Joshi, and said that YRF and Netflix “are at liberty to release the movie”. The judge, in her order, noted that the film has already been certified by Central Board of Film Certification.

“Having viewed the film, this court found nothing objectionable that would hurt religious feelings of petitioners or a sect. The core message of the film revolves around social evil and the fight against it by social reformer Karasandas Mulji, who was also from a Vaishnavite community,” the judge said while reading out the order in the court. The film ends with a note praising the Vaishnav community, and the devotional verse Govind Stotram is also recited in the film, she noted. The book authored by Saurabh Shah on which the film is based was published way back in January 2013, Justice Vishen said, adding that it was based on a true story.

As to the petitioners' argument that the content of the film was “incendiary” and likely to incite hatred and violence against the Pushtimarg sect, the judge noted that when the book came out 11 years ago, no incident of violence was recorded.

“The apprehension that the movie is derogatory and runs down a religion is based on surmises. The freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution cannot be curtailed,” said Justice Vishen. “Maharaj is based on events which led to the libel case, and it is not targeted to hurt sentiments of Pushtimarg sect. The film has been certified by CBFC and an expert body after considering the relevant aspects,” the court observed.

During the hearing, the petitioners' lawyer had argued that the British-era court which decided the 1862 case “castigated the Hindu religion” and made blasphemous comments against Lord Krishna as well as certain devotional songs and hymns.

The petitioners had approached the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, requesting it to take steps to stop the release, but there was no response, advocate Joshi said. He also argued that Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, which gives the right to freedom of speech and expression, is not a “license to insult” and the law does not protect publishers (such as OTT platforms) only because their creation is based on true events.

Appearing for Netflix, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi argued that the petitioners' prayer to set aside the film's censorship certificate was misconceived, as such certification is not required for a release on OTT platform.

One of the petitioners, a “prominent businessman of Ahmedabad”, did not take any steps against the book on which the film is based or material available on the internet, Rohatgi said. The film is based on legal history which cannot be eradicated, he argued. The YRF counsel told the court that the part of the libel case ruling to which the petitioners objected was not included in the screenplay.

Friday, June 21, 2024

18th MIFF Explores the Magic of “Shaping Characters” and taking them Closer to the Viewer

Editing is about creating in the minds of the viewers a question mark or desire to know more: Master Editor Ollie Huddleston

“As an editor you need to be involved in the story, fall in love with the characters – whether with fiction or documentaries”, said Ollie Huddleston, an award-winning film editor with over 30 years of experience in television and cinema documentaries, in his master-class organized in the penultimate day of the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) in Mumbai. Today’s editing master-class titled ‘Shaping Characters’ by Ollie Huddleston focussed on a storyteller’s perspective for making a film.

The master editor chose to showcase his award-winning project ‘Dream catcher’ to explain his craft of shaping characters through editing. The documentary film which has bagged several international awards, takes us into a hidden world through the eyes of one of its survivors - Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute who worked in the streets of Chicago, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community. With warmth and humour, Brenda gives hope to those who have none. Her story is their inspiration. Through the remarkable story of Brenda from Chicago, director Kim Longinotto explores the cycle of neglect, violence and exploitation which each year leaves thousands of girls and women feeling that prostitution is their only option to survive.

Ollie Huddleston stated, “When people tell you compelling stories like that of Brenda, editing becomes an emotional experience” Showing a number of scenes from the documentary, the master editor spoke about his work that brought Brenda’s character to life on the screen.  For him, storytelling in documentaries is all about showing what happens to people and how they live and survive. He stressed that the editor should view the film project from a storyteller's perspective. “You have to take the viewer inside the story”, he added. Editing has to be suitably done to take the viewers closer to the character.

He firmly feels that music and images should not disturb the story. Captions may also be used in documentaries to narrate the story. Editing can add layers to the character, he added. “Editing has no formula, it is a journey to bring out layers of a character”. He likes working on personal stories, he added.

While the Director, Kim Longinotto had spent two months in Chicago with the characters of the story, Ollie didn’t meet them. In this context, he said that film-making is a collaborative work and the   editor's work is to go through all the footage and make notes of the unedited material in a relaxed manner and then to feel his/her way through the film. You don't necessarily have to make an observational film to make a good documentary, he further stated.

Ollie Huddleston said that Brenda herself saw the film and liked it, which was the biggest reward of utmost satisfaction to him as an editor. Summing up his work in a sentence, he said, “Editing is about creating in the minds of the viewers a question mark or desire to know more”.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Sony Music Entertainment India and Maddock Films announce strategic partnership

This collaboration embodies Sony Music Entertainment’s vision of creating innovative avenues for artists to connect with audiences. And by combining Sony’s musical expertise with Maddock Films' cinematic vision, Sony Music Entertainment is confident in delivering impactful and unforgettable experiences

Sony Music Entertainment India and Maddock Films have announced a new and broad strategic collaboration in India’s entertainment industry. This partnership unites the two companies with the goal of producing music projects, encompassing film soundtracks and independent pop projects featuring A-list Indian talent.

Several high-profile projects anchor this alliance, including soundtracks for the upcoming Hindi film "Chhava" starring Vicky Kaushal and Rashmika Mandanna with music by A.R. Rahman, the drama "Diler" featuring Ibrahim Ali Khan, and "Ikkis" starring Agastya Nanda with music by Sachin-Jigar. In addition, the soundtracks for "Luka Chhupi 2," "Sector 36" starring Vikrant Massey, "Sarvagunn Sampan" featuring Vaani Kapoor, and "Rumi Ki Sharafat" starring Radhika Madan will be part of this collaboration.

Vinit Thakkar, Managing Director of Sony Music Entertainment India, said, "This collaboration embodies our vision of creating innovative avenues for our artists to connect with audiences. Film and music are powerful storytelling mediums, and by combining our musical expertise with Maddock Films' cinematic vision, we are confident in delivering impactful and unforgettable experiences."

Dinesh Vijan, Founder of Maddock Films, echoed the sentiment, adding, "Both Sony Music Entertainment India and Maddock Films have a proven track record of creating chart-topping hits, making this our most significant music collaboration to date. Over the next two years, we are committed to building the industry's most dynamic and successful music partnership."

This partnership will aim to deliver exceptional entertainment content through a strategic mix of new soundtrack acquisitions and creative independent pop singles.

Acting is like living life, it should always be natural: Fabrice Carrey

18th MIFF Unveils Stanislavski’s Secrets in Acting Workshop with Fabrice Carrey

The 18th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) today featured a captivating workshop on acting, focusing on “The Approach of the Stanislavski System in the Acting School.” The workshop was conducted by Fabrice Carrey, the renowned artistic director of the Franco-Belarusian association Demain le Printemps TEATRO.

In a live and interactive session, Carrey delved deep into the life and artistic breakthroughs of the legendary Russian theatre personality Konstantin Stanislavski, exploring the foundations of his unique approach. Carrey emphasized the importance of naturalism in acting, stating, “Actors should always be alive. Acting is like living life.”

Highlighting Stanislavski’s preference for natural characters over traditional acting, Carrey elaborated on the scientific approach Stanislavski adopted in his method. “He always aimed to achieve authenticity and naturalism in his characters,” he opined.

Discussing the universal language of theatre and art, Carrey remarked, “Communication doesn’t only mean text. It’s the intention and emotion. An enthralling play always crosses the barriers of language and culture, connecting with the audience on a deeper level.”

Carrey underscored the necessity for actors to remain natural and empathetic to truly captivate their audience. He stressed that an actor must be prepared for any situation, noting, “A good actor needs to be very attentive to face any sort of difficult or challenging situation.”

To capture the audience’s attention, Carrey advised budding actors to embrace creativity and uniqueness in their performances. “You always need to do something unique, creative, and unusual to draw the attention of the audience,” he suggested.

The session offered valuable insights into the Stanislavski system and emphasized the significance of naturalism, empathy, and readiness in acting. MIFF continues to be a platform for fostering artistic excellence and inspiring the next generation of actors.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

BIG FM concludes its highly impactful campaign ‘Jal Andolan - Desh Ne Thaani Not to Waste Paani’

The campaign saw a huge support from celebrities like Manoj Bajpayee, Divya Dutta, Raghubir Yadav, Faisal Malik, Mini Mathur, Alka Yagnik and Anuradha Podwal, who came together to raise awareness on water conservation 

In response to the escalating global water crisis, BIG FM, one of India's leading radio networks, successfully concluded its purpose-led initiative Jal Andolan - Desh Ne Thaani Not to Waste Paani, aimed to raise awareness about responsible water usage. Responding to soaring temperatures aggravating water shortages across major Indian cities this summer, the campaign garnered significant support from celebrities, government authorities, activists, communities and NGOs.

Through this campaign, BIG FM also rolled out the Jal Daan initiative, encouraging individuals to curb their water usage. The collected water was then distributed across various locations in Delhi and NCR regions with the help of water tankers. In addition to on-air initiatives, the campaign featured on-ground activities such as cleaning nearby water bodies, conducting awareness programs at malls, holding discussions with experts in schools and colleges and organizing painting, slogan writing competitions across all BIG FM stations.

The highly impactful campaign drew the attention of the Jal Shakti Department, with Secretary Ms. Debashree Mukherjee IAS expressing her appreciation for the cause. Celebrities including Manoj Bajpayee, Divya Dutta, Raghuvir Yadav, Faisal Malik, Mini Mathur, Alka Yagnik and Anuradha Podwal supported the initiative by sharing how they are individually contributing to water conservation. Activists like Dr. Rajendra Singh (The River Man of India), Sunanda Tai, Peepal Baba from the Give Me Trees Trust and Padma Shri Ganesh K. Mani showed their solidarity with the cause through audio and video messages. Additionally, listeners also shared their Jal Warrior stories on air by reaching out directly to BIG FM RJs or through their social media handles, detailing how they are saving water in their daily lives.

Sunil Kumaran, COO of BIG FM, shared his views on the campaign, stating, "The need for water is perpetual for all. As demand rises and the population grows, conserving not only water but all natural resources has become crucial. Through ‘Jal Andolan,’ we aimed to further emphasize the importance of mindful water consumption and thereby the needs for its conservation. I would like to extend my gratitude towards all the dignitaries who supported this initiative; their influence is vital in fostering a healthier environment for those without access to fresh water.”

‘Jal Andolan’ concluded in Delhi with ‘Jal Daan,’ encouraging people to save water by using a bucket instead of taking a shower, not washing their car and reusing RO wastewater for household chores. Approximately 50,000 litres of water were distributed to water-scarce areas in Delhi by BIG FM RJs - RJ Khurafati Nitin, RJ Akriti and RJ Yogi — with the support of Delhi Police, various listeners and communities.