‘NFDC Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes’ will pitch five debut indie films

First online edition of Marche du Film, the biggest international film market, to be held from June 22-26

While Prateek Vats’ Eeb Allay Ooo posted mind-boggling numbers (about 150,000 views at last count) in its 24-hour run at the first online ‘We Are One: A Global Film Festival’, the lab where these fantastic independent films are sown, grown and nurtured — the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) Film Bazaar — has entered into a defining partnership with Marche du Film (Cannes Film Market) this year, when everyone assumed all was lost for cinema, especially the small indies.

The NFDC Film Bazaar, the largest film market of South Asia, will collaborate with the biggest international market, Marché du Film, in its first online edition, to be held from June 22-26, with the ‘NFDC Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes’ programme. ‘Goes to Cannes’ is in its eighth edition and is one of the premier events at the market. It will take place on June 22 and 23.

As a part of this collaboration, five work-in-progress films from NFDC Film Bazaar 2019 will be pitched to international festival programmers, distributors and sales representatives at the Marché du Film Online. The business wing of Festival de Cannes, Marche du Film featured 12,527 participants from the film industries of 121 countries last year.


The participating projects — all debut features — include Dostojee (‘Two friends’) by Prasun Chatterjee in Bengali; Fire in the Mountains by Ajitpal Singh in Hindi; Pedro by Natesh Hegde in Kannada; Shankar’s Fairies by Irfana Majumdar in Hindi; and Uljhan (‘The knot’) by Ashish Pant in Hindi. While three of the films are set in India’s rural interiors, two have Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow as their location.


Prasun Chatterjee, a self-taught filmmaker, confesses to being fascinated by life in the villages along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, his own family having immigrated back in the 1970s from the then East Pakistan. His Dostojee is set in one such village along the Padma river and has been shot with the local people. “It is about the innocent friendship between two boys and their ultimate separation,” he says. The film is set in the 1990s, with a strong political, social and religious undercurrent running through it. Mr. Chatterjee hopes that with the market going online this year, a “different kind of attention” will be focused on their films.


Journalist-turned-filmmaker Natesh Hegde’s Pedro, about a village electrician of the same name, was shot in his own home town, Sirsi, in the Western Ghats. His entire cast is drawn locally, and includes his father playing one of the roles. “I hope our small film gets visibility at the international level,” says Mr. Hegde.


An academic who teaches film at College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York, Ashish Pant first wrote the script of Uljhan during the screenwriting class while pursuing a Master of Fine Arts programme at the Columbia University. It’s a “human drama” about an accident and the rift it creates between a couple. “It uses suspense as a driving tool,” says Mr. Pant. It’s about how the differing approaches of two individuals to the same incident can trigger fissures, and how and why they react the way they do. “It will get out to a wider industry audience. It is difficult for a small film to be able to do that,” Mr. Pant says of the significance of being in the ‘Goes to Cannes’ programme.

Fire in the Mountains

Ajitpal Singh’s Fire in the Mountains is inspired from an incident in his own family, when an educated and well-read cousin of his died because of lack of hospitalisation, and all because her husband thought she was possessed by a ghost. His film revolves around a progressive woman and an orthodox man, is set in the hills of Uttarakhand and draws from the local rituals like the “jaagar” in which gods, local deities and ancestral spirits are invoked and woken up through music to ask them for cures and remedies. Being a part of the ‘Goes to Cannes’ programme, Mr. Singh feels the film won’t find it difficult to muster eyeballs. “They are already promoting it well. We won’t have to struggle to get attention because it is part of a flagship programme. It’s we who have to be clear about what we want [from the participation],” he says. His aim is to look for film festival premieres and deals on major OTT platforms.

Shankar’s Fairies

It was her grandmother’s death and the impending sale of the ancestral house that made theatre director and solo performer Irfana Majumdar to shoot her first feature film there. The story of Shankar’s Fairies came from her own mother, derived from the memories of her childhood. “Set in 1962, it is about a nine-year-old daughter of the Senior Superintendent of Police in Lucknow. It is about her relationship with the family servant Shankar and also talks about the social situation of the time,” says Ms. Majumdar.

A shot at deals

The five Indian films will be part of the 20 curated projects from four festivals/ markets across the globe and will have a shot at striking major business deals. The other three festivals include the traditional ‘Goes to Cannes’ partners — Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), Poland’s New Horizons International Film Festival, and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

One more Indian production, a documentary called The Borderlands, about life along the Indian border, features in the ‘Goes to Cannes’ section through HAF. It has been directed by Samarth Mahajan and produced by Akshay Gangwar and Sunil Doshi of content development platform All Things Small.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 10:14:55 AM |

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