The future of Indian cinema and story of two young directors

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Published: May 12, 2019 3:05:27 AM

Two young directors and a recent cinematography graduate from India promise good tidings at the forthcoming Cannes Film Festival.

With no films from India, the world’s largest film producer, in the festival’s official selection, Palit, Sangma and Rai will be the sole representatives of Indian cinema at Cannes this year.

Modhura Palit is excited to be sharing the stage with Bruno Delbonnel, the famous French cinematographer who shot Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Both Palit, who graduated in cinematography from the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata, two years ago, and Delbonnel will be receiving two top cinematography honours on the sidelines of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival beginning on May 14.

“I will be getting the opportunity to meet Bruno Delbonnel, the world-famous cinematographer of Amelie,” beams Palit who was born in Kolkata. “There are going to be a lot of important DPs (directors of photography) at the ceremony,” she adds. The Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography ceremony on May 24 will pay tribute to Delbonnel, while Palit will receive the Angénieux Special Encouragement award. Instituted in 2003 in memory of Pierre Angénieux, founder of French camera lens manufacturing giant Angénieux, to honour a prominent director of photography in world cinema, it also highlights the promising work of a young film professional from last year. Palit, who has already shot three feature films in Bengali, will be offered the opportunity to use the best of the Angénieux technology for the images of her next project as part of the award.

Palit will be joined in Cannes by two of her fellow SRFTI graduates—Dominic Sangma and Saurav Rai. Sangma, who is from Meghalaya, and Rai, from West Bengal, studied direction at the film school. Sangma has been chosen to present his new film project at Marche du Film, the Cannes festival’s film market. Rai’s new film, which is in post-production, is part of the Hong Kong Goes to Cannes section, also in the film market, having been selected by the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF).

Sangma will be part of La Fabrique Cinéma of the Institut Français in Cannes, a tailored programme to help talented young directors from emerging countries increase their international exposure. His film, titled Rapture, is once again set in his Nongthymmai Garo village in Meghalaya like his previous one. It revolves around the disappearance of a boy when villagers are busy collecting an insect that appears only once in four years. “I have shot the opening scenes,” says Sangma. “The insects, called cicada, come in millions and people throng forests to collect them for food because these are soft, tender and tasty,” adds Sangma, who will be meeting agents, producers and festival programmers.

Rai, whose short film Gudh (Nest) was part of the Cinefondation section for film schools at the Cannes festival in 2016, will be pitching his debut feature film in Nepali at the Cannes film market. Rai’s film will be part of the same Hong Kong Goes to Cannes programme that had Village Rockstars in 2017. Titled Invitation, the film, like Sangma’s, also centres on a boy, 10-year-old Tashi who works in a cardamom orchard. “It is about the judgment and morality of society,” says Rai. “We still have a filter to look at certain people,” adds the director, who has cast several of his family members in the film, shot in his village, Bara Mangwa, located between Darjeeling and Kalimpong towns. “It is organic home-brewed cinema,” laughs Rai, who has roped in Telugu music director Lokesh Kanithi to compose music.

With no films from India, the world’s largest film producer, in the festival’s official selection, Palit, Sangma and Rai will be the sole representatives of Indian cinema at Cannes this year.

(Faizal Khan is a freelancer)

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