Rajesh Shera’s Ocean of the Old Man is being showcased in the New Currents section of the Pusan International Film Festival as one of the six projects selected for the Independent Feature Post-production Fund of the Asian Cinema Fund (ACF) programme, considered a recognition for best emerging talents from Asia. Here, Rajesh shares his thoughts on the film and the funding it has got:
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?
My associate producer Pinaki Chatterji, who got associated with my film from the last year’s Film Bazaar, IFFI, Goa, had informed me about the ACF. For the selection process, I had to send the rough cut of film to Pusan selection committee along with the shooting script.
How would this selection help your project?
This fund opened a big opportunity to explore the international scenario of filmmaking and since it is a completion fund, I am able to complete the film finally.
What exactly this selection entitles your project to?
The Fund provided me DI of the whole film and pre-mix and final mix of sound. It also has provided accommodations and travel to Seoul for two people. The film is being showcased in PIFF.
How did you conceive this project idea?
My ‘Director’s Intention’ explailns this:
“The Andaman and Nicobar Islands has a history of the advent of the British Raj, the establishment and final abandonment of their naval and war power in the Indian Ocean, the World Wars, the efficacy of the Japanese war technology, the relentless efforts of the Christian missionaries, the spread of education, tribal myths and pagan practices, the co-existence of ferocious and primitive Negroid hunters with mild mannered Mongoloid fishermen.
I visited the isolated and marooned islands of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal after the Great Tsunami of 26th December 2004.
The human agonies, which I witnessed there, the aftermath of the devastations, and similar tales of woe and loss that unfolded around the world remained with me even after I came back from the archipelago.
These remote and unknown islands are so far away from the consciousness of the people, of the world.
But within the rich texture of the island’s history and its flora and fauna lurk the overwhelming stench of death. The thousands, died in the tsunami.
I felt that the pristine beauty of the exotic Andaman seascape was intensified by the pathos left behind by the tsunami.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands beckoned me back many more times in the following years.
Ocean of an Old Man took shape during my sojourns in those islands, amidst the endless sea and the ruthless ruins.
As I roamed the different islands and spent my times with the inhabitants of those islands, silence on their faces had conversation with me, which I still can’t, forget but then I met a teacher who was left insane by the tsunami.
I sensed a great urgency to tell a story of this tragedy to the world and I choose my medium of cinema.
In my wanderings in search of a story for my film, I also realized that any story that might be played out within the ruins left behind by the great natural calamity in these islands cannot exist outside the entire history of that space. And this history, which was so pervasive everywhere I went, was not limited to textbook history. Rather it was quintessentially colonial, anthropological, and military.
So, Ocean of an Old Man is the story that the Islands and the Ocean had told me.”
Other details are at : www.oceanofanoldman.com.
It is an original story conceived and developed by me. We took 50 days of production out of which we shot for 39 days, location is Andaman islands and language is Hindi and Nicobari in the form of their folklore and traditional songs. This is the first time in the history of Indian cinema this has been done though a lot of documentaries have been made there.
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 feel it’s not related to that. It is more related to who selects the project for the funding. I think people like me try every possible option they get. I did try in my country also. NFDC showed primary interest and selected it for 2007 film bazaar at IFFI, Goa. I would like to thank NFDC for providing me with the opportunity at the film bazaar. Later, I attended the Rotterdam International film festival 2008 through NFDC and participated in the producers lab, where I came to know about the international scenario of the filmmaking. I must say NFDC is really working with a new vision.
I feel we still need to have formal and dedicated production houses for independent filmmakers. The good thing is that now people from abroad are looking positively towards India as they are getting new and promising films from India and co-production proposals from India. One big hurdle regarding the funding from other countries is that our country doesn’t have film production treaties with most of the countries and that sometime hampers the production possibility. I feel the government should do something about it.
2008 Independent Feature Post-production Fund recipients:
“Breathless” (Korea) Yang Ik June
“The Pit and The Pendulum” (Korea) Sohn Young sung
“Land of Scarecrows” (Korea) Gyeong Tae Roh
“Ocean of An Old Man” (India) Rajesh Shera
“River People” (China) He Jianjun
“At The End Of Daybreak” (Malaysia) Ho Yuhang