Twelve short films at Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival caught the eye

The difference between short films and feature films is one of time, obviously, but also temperament. Given the financial constraints under which shorts are usually produced, they often look and feel different from their longer counterparts, and offer a singularity of focus on the subject, which could be found lacking in a longer feature film. The short films competition at the recently concluded Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival comprised 12 shorts from Asian and the Arab countries, which presented the medium in all its variations and possibilities. Here we focus on three of the Indian shorts.

Cat People

The 15-minutes-long English short, set against the backdrop of Onam in Kerala, is an adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Man Eating Cats. The film explores the fears and insecurities of Shankar and Maya, who are trying to give their relationship a second chance while dealing with the baggage from their previous relationships.

Directed by Kuriakose Saju, an FTII graduate, the film was shot on a shoestring budget of Rs. 22,000. As this was his graduation film, “its basic costs and the equipment were provided by the Institute itself. We had to raise an additional 5000 rupees,” he says. Kuriakose believes that compared to a feature film, short films pose far lesser financial risks and have a huge scope for the same reason. He is currently working on turning the script of his short into a feature film.

Dirty Doves

Dirty Doves is the English title of the Urdu short Khaleel Khan ke Faakhtey. Running into 25 minutes, the film describes the journey of the titular character from Pakistan to his village in India 60 years after the Partition and his chance encounter with Mata Prasad, an old friend. But the meeting turns sour when he is asked to pay back the money he borrowed 60 years ago, which Mata Prasad dearly needs.

Directed by Rizwan Siddiqui, a Lucknow-based creative consultant and a copywriter, the primary cast of the film is made of theatre actors from Lucknow and some of the extras include a puncture repairer from Kakori and a keyboardist in an orchestra band. The film was financed out of the savings of Rizwan and his wife. In addition to Osian’s, the film has travelled to London and has been selected for two other international film festivals. “It doesn’t matter whether you are making a short film or a feature film, as long as you are fired by the desire to tell a story,” he says.

Indhiyam

The 11 minute short by Ekta Arora is her diploma film from L.V. Prasad Academy, Chennai and deals with inhalant abuse and sexual abuse. While Ekta got support from her film school, the film was majorly personally financed. She believes that there is an international audience for short films in India through portals such as Youtube and Vimeo.

“The good thing about short film is that it is not very demanding from its viewer in terms of time, place, money,” she says. Indhiyam has travelled to 14 national and international festivals, and Ekta hopes it can be the launchpad to a career in feature film making. She intends to continue making shorts, however, as “it is a different kind of exercise to your film making muscle.”