Filmmaker Jahar Kanungo’s second feature film Half Truth was chosen for Independent Feature Script and Project Development Fund at the just-concluded Pusan International Film Festival’s Asian Cinema Fund (ACF). Jahar’s first film Nisshabd – Reaching Silence (Bengali) was an interesting treatise on the effect of noise in modern life. Kanungo is scouting for funds to make his film right now, and the Pusan selection was on the basis of a synopsis he had submitted as the entry. Here, Kanungo shares his thoughts on the selection, how it could help his project, and more:
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?
I came to know about Pusan’s Asian Cinema Fund from some of my friends who I came to know in different festivals. You know how it happens. You talk on different subjects, or they try to find out about my future projects, etc., etc. Then I i followed the usual process – going to the net and finding out details. They have different schemes like Script and Project Development, Post Production support, etc. For script development, you need to send so many papers like synopsis and treatment, director’s note and so on. I think, the treatment is very important because in your treatment they would like see how your concept is getting developed – getting a shape.
How would this selection help your project?
Their support will help me tremendously. Their funds give me an opportunity to do all the research work and engage experts in the story board, to engage script editor, visit the likely locations on the basis of which the script is developed, etc.
What exactly this selection entitles your project to?
In today’s film world, Pusan is a very important platform for a filmmaker, which I realised when I was in their festival in 2005 while Nisshabd was screened in their competitive section. When my script is ready, I may deccide to approach Pusan Promotion Plan which will help me meet the possible international producers. Then it is up to how you convince them that your project is good. And most importantly, many producers may be interested when your project has been supported by Pusan.
How did you conceive this project idea and by when do you envisage it will be completed?
Once I wrote a Bengali story which was published in a magazine called Digangan. I had a relook at the story, and started thinking about various possibilities of treating that story in a completely-different way. And in that process I came upon a new concept.
Some details about the project….
All I can say at the moment is that my story is about fiction and reality. Is fiction a manipulation of truth? This I want to make it to be a thriller.
Why do you think Indian independent filmmakers are having to look outside the country for funding, when a lot of independent films are getting made now in the country?
I want to make this a commercially-successful film. But before I do that I know that I will have to do a lot on my script before I approach producers in India or abroad. As far as foreign viewership is concerned, they would like to see that the film will have to be acceptable not only to the NRI audience, but their own audience too. So, I need support for completing the script, and this support is available in a few countries but not in India. I still need more support for which I am looking around. If any Indian producer comes forward, I will not look outside my country.
Were you satisfied at the way your first film worked out as far as reaching out to audiences was concerned?
I was not very satisfied about its theatre release. I could screen it in Kolkata only for a week. Then I didn’t have money to do proper publicity, etc. But later on, I am very satisfied with other successes – Moser Baer is now marketing its DVD, Doordarshan has screened it on three occasions so far in their Classic Cinema series, and the External Affairs Ministry has bought five prints in five different languages -. English, French, Russian, Arabic, and Spanish. NFDC have signed a contract with me to market it in internationally. And over and above, I am still getting invited to screen my film and meet the audience at different forums – whether it is at Pune film institutte or many other institutes. It’s happening.
Your first film too had a foreign angle as far as its making its concerned (Fonds Sud…). How different have been your experience this time?
When I made my first film, I was not known. But this time, I am sure I would find producers accepting my script.
2008 Independent Feature Script and Project Development Fund recipients:
“Seaside” (Korea) Kim Jongkwan
“Daybreak” (Korea) Cho Kyu Jang
“The Reason” (Korea) Min Yong Keun
“Woman On Fire Looks For Water” (Malaysia) Woo Ming Jin
“Half Truth” (India) Jahar Kan Ungo
“I Carried You Home” (Thailand) Tongpong Chantarangkul
“Balloon” (China) Wanma Caidan