FOCUS: An Indian Indie

From dodging debt to clearing censorship, SOUL OF SAND director, Sidharth Srinivasan, discusses the genesis of a film fueled by “passion, persistence, patience–and pig headedness!”

(Image courtesy of Sidharth Srinivasan)

It’s been three achingly long years from script to screen. We shot PAIRON TALLE (SOUL OF SAND) as an utter indie, sans any form of corporate funding let alone guarantee of completion, on love, not-so-fresh air and foolhardiness, in the fall of 2008. To embark on such a venture one has to contend with a veritable host of naysayers—aghast outsiders, concerned family members and frowning well-wishers, and during pre-production I could almost smell the cast and crew clandestinely questioning the folly of my endeavors behind my back, but supporting me nonetheless for my very personal Waterloo (bless their souls). I say stick to your guns if the project has stuck with you for as long as it has—independent filmmaking is the exclusive domain of masochists who revel in the pleasure/pain principle…

Once principal photography began in earnest everyone was disbelievingly stunned into action, as it were, and spirits ran alarmingly high – the joy of a successful shoot is akin to chasing that ubiquitous dragon. But the low that came post-shooting hit like a ton of bricks – case in point, our film was in the proverbial can but we were over-budget (despite having completed

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NEW ON DVD: Leo’s Room and Ocean of an Old Man!

LGBT Festival-favorite LEO’S ROOM and Rajesh Shera’s Post-Apocalyptic Gem OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN to Release on DVD November 8th

The Global Film Initiative is pleased to announce the DVD release of two new films from the Global Lens film series:

Dir. Enrique Buchichio Uruguay, 2009, 92 minutes Spanish, with subtitles in English
Shaken by a recent breakup, a troubled but handsome young man dreams of the future and cautiously explores his sexuality with the encouragement of an old friend and a sympathetic therapist. Special Jury Award, Torino GLBT Film Festival; Official Selection of the San Sebastián Film Festival (New Directors), NewFest and Miami International Film Festival.
“A sensitive, engaging and emotive portrayal of a young man coming to terms with his sexuality. Leo’s Room is a triumph of a movie….The understated performances, subtle direction and strong story make Leo’s Room a must-see.” -Entertainment Focus
“Filled with wonderful little touches and character beats….Leo’s Room feels utterly fresh.” -Miami Herald

OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN Dir. Rajesh Shera India, 2008, 84 minutes Hindi, with subtitles in English In the devastating aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, an elderly British schoolteacher comes to grips with his own loss as he searches for

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Special Feature: Tom Alter on the Making of OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN

The DVD release is next month, but we’re giving you a peek behind the curtain of this extraordinary film

Indian director Rajesh Shera’s OCEAN OF AN OLD MAN follows a grief-stricken schoolteacher in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. As Shera’s debut feature and the first film ever to be shot on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the production was no easy feat and is a fascinating story in its own right.

Naturally, when Rajesh sent us a video interview with the film’s star, veteran Indian actor Tom Alter, we knew it would be an essential addition to the DVD’s special features. Through Alter’s narration and behind-the-scenes footage, audiences can witness how the crew converted an old restaurant into a schoolhouse, see the no-frills rooms that the crew stayed in during production, and hear how Alter—a former schoolteacher himself—personally related to his character.

It’s a special feature for a special film—now take it away, Tom:

THE IMAGE THREADS, a Feast for the “i”

East meets West as this Indian cyber adventure makes its West Coast premiere

A scene from Vipin Vijay's THE IMAGE THREADS

We’re pleased to announce that Vipin Vijay’s THE IMAGE THREADS (formerly titled THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY NET POTATO) will be screening as part of the 3rd i’s Ninth Annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival!

THE IMAGE THREADS received a GFI grant in 2008 and went on to screen at the São Paulo International Film Festival (New Filmmakers Competition) and the International Film Festival Rotterdam (In Competition). It is one of our more unusual films and definitely deserves a second (or third, or fourth) look. Read the review from Twitch below:

(via Twitch) What better country to make a film about the internet age than India, the largest IT labor exporting country? This serene, visual contemplation on the nature of the virtual world and finding one’s identity in it starts with an ironic quote: “I had a dream about reality. It was such a relief to wake up.” by a Polish aphorist Stanislaw J. Lec, which sets the tone of The Image Threads.

An IT professor named Hari, ‘pimping (in his own words)’ the information technology laborers to the US

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FESTIVALS & AWARDS: Academy Awards, Pusan IFF, Mumbai Film Fest and more!

We’re extremely proud of our Global Lens films and GFI grant recipients—read on for the latest good news!

The following films were selected as Foreign Language submissions to the 84th Academy Awards:

BELVEDERE (dir. Ahmed Imamović, Bosnia & Herzegovina), included in the Global Lens 2011 film series OCTOBER (dir. Daniel Vega Vidal and Diego Vega Vidal, Peru), awarded a GFI grant in 2008 SKOONHEID (dir. Oliver Hermanus, South Africa), awarded a GFI grant in 2010

In other GFI grant recipient news…

 

THE MIRROR NEVER LIES (dir. Kamila Andini, Indonesia), was selected for the New Currents section of the Pusan International Film Festival! Watch the film’s trailer here.

THE DEAD SEA (dir. Leena Manimekalai, India) is the only Indian film chosen for the International First Films Competition at the Mumbai Film Festival (October 13-20).

SUPPORT: You Say “Tomato” and I Say “Tomahto”

Global Lens and promoting a difference of opinion for the sake of diversity

Global Lens: grindhouse, arthouse, our house

Every year, we do our best to bring you the best in independent world cinema. And over the years, if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that tastes vary from person to person and often what we see in a film isn’t always the same as what you see…

Earlier this year, we released what some audiences describe[d] as a “slasher” film–and others describe as an iconic representation of the “Indian New Wave.” For us, Sidharth Srinivasan’s SOUL OF SAND is an eccentric thriller that ‘delves into the dark interstices between Indian modernity and tradition,’ and for Memphis-based critic, John Beifuss:

“A blunt horror-art hybrid… With one foot in the arthouse and the other in the grindhouse.” [more]

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OPEN MIC: Carnival Barking, or the Art of Reviewing Films

Will Stephenson—film student, columnist, curator, radio host and friend of GFI—looks at SOUL OF SAND and his own process for critiquing films

As an amateur critic and programmer based in Athens, Georgia, I spend a lot of time arguing the merits of films that many readers and viewers are otherwise just as happy ignoring, like stop-motion animation from the Czech Republic or 1940s zombie movies based on Jane Eyre. This is almost always rewarding and sometimes shockingly easy, as the greatness and/or strangeness of the objects can often speak for themselves, in which cases my job (which I feel lucky to have, even at an unprofessional level) consists of something like carnival barking.

But in writing about new art-house releases or curating a series with no readymade theme, the challenge (and appeal) generally involves attempting to dispel certain preconceptions about genres, national cinemas, and canons—all of which begin as useful classifications or critical tools, but can very easily lead to a disheartening reduction in the types of films people see and the ways they relate to them. The best critics work to collapse tired categories and oversimplifications, contesting and expanding our received notions about the medium. They surprise us, basically. And not to lapse into boosterism, but this is also a way of describing the Global Film Initiative’s objective, and it’s why I’ve enjoyed interning here. The films we distribute are difficult in that

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Film on Fishermen Escapes Scissorhands (IBN Live/New Indian Express)

GFI congratulates grantee Leena Manimekalai on gaining CBFC-clearance for SENGADAL, THE DEAD SEA

A scene from Leena Manimekalai's SENGADAL, THE DEAD SEA

(via IBN Live/New Indian Express) Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai has found her shaken faith in democracy restored. At the end of a long battle, her film, ‘Sengadal, the Dead Sea,’ was cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) with an ‘A’ certificate without any cut for theatrical release.

This docu-fiction, which portrays the plight of the families of fishermen, who were allegedly killed by the Lankan Navy at sea, was earlier shot down by the regional censor board on the grounds that it contained “political reference in a denigrating way on the functioning of Indian and Sri Lankan governments”.

The filmmaker decided to challenge the ban with the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) authorities, New Delhi. [more…]

Indian New Wave?

SOUL OF SAND’s Sidharth Srinivasan speaks with Rob Avila about modernity, caste and breathing new life into the Indian independent scene

A scene from SOUL OF SAND

I had an opportunity to sit down with the film’s affable and thoughtful director, Sidharth Srinivasan, just after he introduced the film to a sold-out house on January 15th at the Museum of Modern Art. At the end of our conversation, he returned to the screening room for what proved a long and spirited Q&A with his clearly moved, cosmopolitan audience. Below are a few highlights from our discussion.

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