Saturday, October 4, 2014

A spotlight discussion ‘Rainbow Stories - Queering Indian Shorts’ with Kashish's Sridhar Rangayan steals a million hearts

Day two of 17th Manhattan Short Film Festival created quite a stir as film lovers and short film aspirants thronged to Sitara Studio, a quintessential theatre platform which is hosting the Indian chapter of this festival that travels across six continents. Screenings of ‘Vote For India’ short film winners and global finalists coupled with a one of its kind opportunity to interact with film personalities made day two a must-attend for every avid film lover.

Saturday afternoon commenced with an exceptional workshop with acclaimed film critic Bhawana Somaya who recently debuted as a film maker in collaboration with ‘Vote For India’ initiative winner Stalin Massey. The workshop ‘Film Critic turns Filmmaker’ charted out an atypical transition of a film critic to film making.  The attendees at the workshop welcomed a chance to gather the thought process of a seasoned film critic but a novice film maker and her off the beaten path change over. The chai break that followed bustled with energy as the conversations among the budding short film makers appearing to giving shape to many more creative ideas besides the exchange of takeaways from the festival workshops and screenings so far.

Soon the short film genre took centre stage as the day progressed with a big screen showcase of another ‘Vote For India’ winner ‘Seductive Berozgaari’ directed by Stalin 'Bertie' Massey. The film with a fantastical touch is the story of an unemployed young man who encounters a genie in a radio who grants him three wishes. The treatment of the events that unfold appealed to the audience who decided the fate of films that participated in the Manhattan Short ‘Vote For India’ initiative organised in collaboration with Vivanta by Taj, and made ‘Seductive Berozgaari’ emerged as one of the winners.

Besides the value adding workshops, film buffs seized the opportunity to watch ten crème de la crème short films that are the global finalists in the competitive category of this travelling short film extravaganza. The exhilarating lineup of films that compete on a global map proved to be an inspiration and an incredible learning experience for every aspiring film maker in India. Film goers came together to watch films that were all under 18 minutes starting from Ben Brand’s Dutch film ‘97%’, Alix Lambert’s & Sam Chou’s American graphic-novel-style documentary titled ‘Crime’, Josh Soskin’s Mexican film ‘La Carnada’, Bexie Bush’s British film ‘Mend and Make Do’, London based filmmaker Sameer Patel’s drama ‘On the Bridge’, French  director Thierry Lorenzi’s thriller ‘On/Off’, James Croke’s Australian film ‘Shift’, Moon Molson’s American emotional drama ‘The Bravest, the Boldest’, Andreas Thaulow’s Norwegian thriller ‘The Fall’, to director Erik Schmitt’s German film ‘Rhino Full Throttle’.

The evening session opened with the workshop on ‘Rainbow Stories - Queering Indian Shorts’ with Sridhar Rangayan from Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. He emphasized on the importance of encouraging independent cinematic voices of ‘queer’ subjects, an umbrella term used with pride within the homosexual and transvestite, transgender and lesbian community. Rangayan who is the festival director of India's only mainstream LGBT festival suggested that such subjects are often gripped in the clutches of discomfort and disdain in our country and need to be viewed in a different and more comforting light. ‘Silvatein’ directed by Arati Raval-Pandey was another gem, winner of the ‘Vote For India’ initiative that was screened late evening on Day two.  The subject which is skillfully dealt with and appealed everyone present at the screening, brought out the relationship based intricacies of a couple who get confined together due to an indefinite curfew as a result of communal riots.

On receiving an overwhelming response on Day two, Mr Anil Sadarangani, Festival Director of Manhattan Short in India shared, “The joy of seeing Manhattan Short India prosper year after year is inexplicable. The India chapter in its 5th year is being looked upon by patrons as well as participants of short film genre as an integral platform to showcase and hone the young talent. It was Vivanta by Taj’s unfailing commitment and support to the ‘Vote for India’ initiative that helped us march forward with the unique idea to let the audience be the ultimate jury. The encouraging results are for everyone to see.”

After a day full of movies and some master tips on a wide array of movie making, the vibe at Sitara Studio was filled with love and passion for cinema. Manhattan Short 2014, India chapter, scheduled from 3rd October 2014 to 5th October 2014 at Mumbai is casting a spell on the Indian movie buffs and opening their horizons to the world short film cinema genre. The first two days delivered more than what they promised as film buffs soaked in every bit of the cinematic delight offered by the three day festival. The the short film genre enthusiasts in particular were looking forward to what day three has in store. Whether the magic continues on the last and final day of the festival, day three will unveil.

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