Paris-based Indian filmmaker Partho Sen-Gupta’s Arunoday (Sunrise) is the only Indian entry among 30 selected from all over Asia (out of 200 entries received) for the Pusan Promotion Plan (PPP, a programme at the Pusan International Film Festival, Oct 2-10, 2008), designed to help these films find co-producers and financiers.
Arunoday, being produced by Sudhir Mishra’s Cine Raaz Production, is likely to see its production take off by 2008-end. PIFF has just started (Oct 2) and will continue till Oct 10. Right time, probably, to share with you an interview of Partho Sen-Gupta:
How did you get to know about this particular fund of Pusan film fest, and what kind of selection process you underwent before your project got selected?
When I was developing my first feature film, Hava Aney dey (Let the Wind Blow), in 2002, a French distributor, who had been on the funding commission of the Fonds Sud (French Cultural Ministry Fund) and who had supported my project, suggested my project to the PPP. So, I had been selected at the PPP in 2002 too. The selection process demands a normal international funding dossier which consists of a one page synopsis, a 1-2-page long Director’s Statement, a Treatment no longer than eight pages, DVD(s) of director’s previous work(s), production schedules, producer’s bio, etc.
The film projects have to be a feature-length fiction film. The project may be in any stage of production from scenario stage, pre-production, production, to post-production, provided that the project is not completed before the time of PPP 2008. And only those projects that are not fully financed are eligible.
How would this selection help your film?
A selection into the PPP gives my film project a position in the ‘world cinema market’. In the next three years most of the films that are in this selection will make it to the big five film festival selections (Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Locarno and Rotterdam). These will be the films to ‘watch out for’ for the international distributors, sales agents and the film festivals. I don’t have to tell anybody on the international cinema scene that I am making a film – they already would know. So it does gives a peer selection stamp on the project.
What exactly this selection entitles your project to?
There are some cash awards (Pusan award, Kodak award, Goteborg film fund award, etc) that the 30 selected projects will compete for. Once PPP official projects are selected and the participants of PPP are confirmed, the complete list of PPP projects with project profiles are sent to all the PPP participants. Participants to PPP are most of the top international productions houses, studios, television companies, sales agents, film festival selectors, distributors or funding agencies. They then have to apply for meetings to the projects of interest before the deadline. Filmmakers of selective projects can also choose up to five companies with whom they want to have a meeting. Then, between the 3rd to the 6th October, the selected PPP project directors are invited to an all expense paid trip to Pusan to conduct meetings in an especially reserved room in the Asian market of PIFF. Last year, there were 1,100 registered participants, 460 registered companies and organisations for the 35 PPP projects. So, it puts the project and the people backing it in privileged position in the market.
Was yours the only Indian entry in this selection process this year?
How did you conceive this project idea and by when do you envisage it will be completed?
I am an urban man and have always lived in big metropolis like Mumbai and Paris. I spend a lot of time walking around the streets, especially in the night. They are an amazing source of stories for my scripts. Everyday an amazing thing happens around 11:00 pm when the world as we know it goes back home and shuts off. And then a different population crawls out, they are people one would never meet in the day. On one such occasion I was sitting in a small shady bar in Mumbai. I was approached by a man who said he could supply me with a sexual partner. I queried further and I discovered that there was a free and open market of underage children for sex. I told him I wasn’t interested and I went back home very troubled.
When I was six, I had survived a kidnapping attempt on Shivaji Park beach in Mumbai where I grew up. I had been saved by passersby from the would-be kidnappers because I had shouted for help. This traumatic event has stayed with me throughout my life, often reproducing itself in disturbing nightmares. I have often wondered what my life would have been like had I been abducted. I have tried to imagine my parents’ grief and the effect it would have had on their lives. I wonder what and where I would be today.
Arunoday is a film about the destinies of missing children and the parents who have lost them. The film is told in a triptych, three spatially disconnected segments which interrelate temporally as part of one continuous narrative, culminating in an explosive and decisive end. Each segment functions separately as a narrative by itself but they could also be a continuous narration. The film is in Hindi and would be about a 100 minutes long. More details are at http://www.sunrisethefilm.com. The cast and crew are not decided yet though some are mentioned on the website. The film should go into production in December 2008.
Why do you think Indian independent filmmakers are having to look outside the country for funding, etc., when a lot of independent films are getting made now in the country?
I don’t know what you mean by independent films. Do you mean films in India that do not have a ‘star’ cast and do not work on the Bollywood formula? But they are not considered ‘Independent films’ in the world cinema arena. Because being independent is not just from the studios and the stars, it is from thinking and a way of making films. Unfortunately in India, it is rare that directors make anything that defies the style of B grade American cinema. It is rare that one sees anything groundbreaking in the directorial style. Films in India are called independent just because they have a non-star cast in them and they are made for the fraction of the cost of mainstream films. The content and the treatment still remains the same. None of these films have made any impression in the international market. Frankly, there is very little interest or money for real ‘independent’ movies in India.
Then it is not always the money one may look for but a collaboration that brings in knowhow and exposure to a market that is alien to us. Why would you not want a Belgian co-producer who is ready to release your film in his country or on Belgian television? Why would you not want to see your filmed released in Tokyo?
Were you satisfied at the way your first film worked out as far as reaching out to audiences was concerned?
I am extremely satisfied with my first film Hava Aney Dey. I love to see it again and again, especially for the great performances be it the main actors like Tannishtha Chatterjee, Nishikant Kamat, Aniket Vishwasrao, Rajshree Thakur or the numerous supporting actors. It brought me a lot of recognition in the international scene but not in India. The film was never released in India because the censors did not give a certificate and the Indian producer did not want to do anything with it. It was even taken off Osian’s Cinefan film festival because it was not censored. It has been shown in over 30 international festivals starting at the Berlin International Film festival. It received three awards in Durban, Hong Kong and Manchester. It is part of the prestigious Global lens 2008 of the Global Film Initiative which is a ten film package that tours 56 cities in the US for a year. Even after four years since its making it still gets screened in cities around the world. It was screened at the Museum of Modern art (MoMA) in New York. It was screened at the Rotterdam festival this year and it will be screening in Poland in November this year. It reached out to more people than most ‘independents’ in India who don’t last more than a week or two in the cinemas.
Your first film too had a foreign angle as far as it’s making its concerned (Fonds Sud). How different have been your experience this time?
I make films – it does not matter who puts the money. I make what I want to, not what anybody wants me to. Thus, there is no effect on the making. Hava Aney Dey was a Franco-Indian co-production but a Hindi language film; there was some money from the Fonds Sud, some European private money and a minority Indian producer.
Arunoday will be produced by Sudhir Mishra through his company Cine Raaz Entertainment who has just finished producing Piyush Jha’s Sikandar. We are going to Pusan and we hope to get some interest from international sales agents and distributors.
I also have another film being developed in Europe. It is funded partly by Europe MEDIA fund and by the Dutch film fund and produced by a Dutch producer. It will be shot in India.
It’s always a different experience each time. That’s what I like about making films.
The a complete list of selected entries for PPP, 2008:
Arrested Memories (Korea, Japan) dir. SABU
Black and White Photos (China, France) dir. Shu Haolun
A Brand New Life (working title) (Korea, France) dir. Ounie Lecomte
The Bride (Iran) dir. Mona Zandi
The Bright Way (Kazakhstan) dir. Marat Sarulu
Crawling at Night (U.S.A) dir. Kimi Takesue
Devil’s Rock (Georgia) dir. Rusudan Chkonia
Eugenia (Korea) dir. Jung Bum-shik
Executioner Garden (China) dir. Zhang Yuan
A Father (Korea) dir. Zhang Lu
Forget-me-not (Japan, Malaysia) dir. Yasmin Ahmad
How are you, Dad? (Taiwan) dir. Chang Tso Chi
I am Dan Ba (Vietnam) dir. Viet Linh Nguyen
Jeon Woo Chi (working title) (Korea) dir. Choi Dong-hoon
Leaving the Peninsula behind (Japan) dir. Lee Sang-il
A Long Afternoon Nap (China) dir. Chen Tao
The Lullabies (Iran) dir. Manijeh Hekmat
My Back Page (Japan) dir. Yamashita Nobuhiro)
Our Grand Despair (Turkey) dir. Seyfi Teoman
Pinoy Sunday (Philippines, Taiwan) dir. Ho Wi Ding
Quari (Korea), dir. Cho Eunhee
Running across Beijing (China) dir. Cai Shangjun
Sacred Warriors (Taiwan) dir. Chou Zero
Sandcastle (Singapore) dir. Boo Jun Feng
Snow (Thailand) dir. Kongdej Jaturanrasmee
Stranger (U.K.) dir. Simon Rumley
The Sunrise (India) dir. Partho Sen-Gupta
Two Dragglers (China) dir. Zhu Wen
YIPSAK-A Chicken Wild (Korea) dir. Oh Sung-yoon
“LEE Chang-dong Project” (Korea) dir. Lee Chang-dong
Indian films at PPP over the years (the names as given in PPP website):
1998: Twist with Destiny, Sudhir Mishra
1999: Unni , Murali Nair
2000: The Sea, Shaji Karun
2001: The Cleaner, Rajan Khosa
2002: Let the Wind Blow, Partho Sen-Gupta
Are You Happy?, Sidharth Srinivasan
2003: Virgin Cow, Murali Nair
2004: Kamli (My Daughter), K N T Sastry
Kerala , Santosh Sivan
2005: The Legend of Sandalwood, Arindam Mitra
2006: Jermal, Ravi Bharwani
2007: Boy with Grenade, Santosh Sivan
The Flicker’s Dance, Priyanka Kumar