Jennifer Alphonse’s short film will be screened in the Short Film Corner

Jennifer Alphonse bagged three Nandi Awards and an international award for her previous short film Kachra. That, she hoped, would make it easier for her to raise funds for her next short film. But it didn’t. Help came in from friends, actor Pitobash (known for his films like Shor in the City and Million Dollar Arm) liked her script and didn’t charge a fee, and the team went out of its way to support the director. Yet, she was nearly broke. “I didn’t know what to do. People asked why I needed money to make a short film since these days it can be easily shot on a mobile phone or a camcorder. But I was making it the professional way. I saw it as a feature film of 27-minute duration. And that required money,” says Jennifer.

Basi Reddy of Digiquest offered to help and the film, Strangerssss, got made by early January and she sent it to the Cannes International Film Festival. The film has been selected to be screened as part of the non-competitive Short Film Corner section. Jennifer has written and directed the film set in Hyderabad. “Pitobash plays Raju, a cab driver from Charminar and the passenger is a foreigner (played by Nesa, a genetics student at Osmania University). He begins by talking to his passenger about Charminar and other tourist spots in the city. The story goes through twists and turns and shows how a stranger goes out of his way to help. Towards the end, people will know why there is an emphasis on ‘ssss’ in the title,” says Jennifer.

Jennifer has directed commercials and short films, including public awareness campaigns for Cyberabad police, and has also worked as an associate director for films such as Shakti, Krishnavamsi’s Danger, Shadow and Bangaru Kodi Petta. She hopes to direct feature films alongside documentaries.

Strangerssss has been shot by Surya and has music by Michael Makhal. Jennifer hopes she will be able to screen the film widely in India. “Earlier no one was interested. With the Cannes recognition, people are calling up to enquire about the film,” she beams.