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 NJISACF 2011 - Fifth New Jersey Independent South Asian Cine Fest

Fifth New Jersey Independent South Asian Cine Fest (NJISACF), 2011, produced by the Asian American Film and Theater Project, will showcase independent films by or about South Asian women from all over the world that challenge the stereotypical and traditional portrayal of South Asian women in mainstream commercial cinema. The two day-long festival will introduce new and established independent women film artists, from South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora. The festival will also feature filmmaker Q&As and panel discussions with participation from scholars and academics from a variety of disciplines.

Jury and Audience Choice Prizes will be awarded for excellence in various categories. Filmmakers are invited to submit films of all genres, formats and length. Submission form and guidelines are available at www.njisacf.org Submission forms may also be requested by sending an email to asamfilmtheater@yahoo.com

Submission deadline is July 16, 2011

Indian Independent Filmmakers at Cannes Film Festival, 2011

Bollywood, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told,an 81-minute documentary film that celebrates the dazzling world of Hindi cinema,produced by Shekhar Kapur and UTV motion picture and directed by 'Delhi 6' helmer Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and documentary filmmaker Jeff, was screened out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival which opened on May 11, at the seaside town of the French Riviera. “The documentary is a result of a conversation I had with Thierry Fremaux at Cannes last year. He spoke of the international audience’s fascination with Bollywood. But it was his inability to find a film that he could show in the main section, that urged me to make a film especially for Cannes,” says Shekhar Kapur.

Vimukthi Jayasundara
Vimukhi Jayasundara
Besides Bollywood, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthi Jayasundara's Indian co-production Bengali film Chatrak (Mushroom) was India's only other entry at the Directors' Fortnight at the same Festival. In 2005, Jayasundara’s first feature film, The Forsaken Land - Sulanga Enu Pinisa, won the 2005 Cannes Film Festival Camera d’Or, the first Sri Lankan to do so. Here’s how the festival describes the film Chatrak: In Kolkata, Rahul, an architect who had gone off to build a career in Dubai, begins a huge construction site. He is reunited with his girlfriend, Paoli, who has long awaited his homecoming, living alone far from her family. Both set out to find Rahul's brother, who is said to have gone mad and who lives in the forest and sleeps in the trees.

Satish Manwar’s Gabhricha Paus (Damned Rain), produced by Prashant Pethe, which had its East Coast premiere at the New Jersey Independent South Asian Cine Fest (NJISACF) 2009, featured in Cannes Cinéphiles, Junior section. Aimed at a young audience, the film is among 8-10 movies chosen because they highlight themes or depict worlds that may provide topics of thought for young people viewing them. Cannes Cinéphiles (Cannes Film Enthusiasts) is an event organised by Cannes Cinéma and the Festival de Cannes to provide public screenings from the Official Selection, as well as films that have travelled worldwide.

Did you know…. the first Indian film to win a top award at the Cannes Film Festival was not Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (Song Of The Road). It was Neecha Nagar (Lowly City), a 1946 Hindi film directed by Chetan Anand and written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. It shared the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (Best Film) award at the first Cannes Film Festival in 1946.

And, the Winners are...

Jan Villa, aUSA –India co-produced film, directed by Indian filmmaker Natasha Mendonca, recently won the Tiger Award for short film at the 40th International Film Festival Rotterdam 2011 held from January 26 through February 6. The film shared the top award with the Belgian film Stardust directed by Nicolas Provost and a US film Pastourelle by Nathaniel Dorsky.

Mendonca
Natasha Mendonca
Jan Villa is Mendonca’s personal account of the city of Mumbai after the monsoon floods of 2005. “The film is an associative cumulative essay. It works obtusely on the idea of Eisenstein’s dialectical montage. It is about Mumbai as a city that is my home and about my personal home and understanding about family structures. In the film, the floods serve as a metaphor for destruction, decay and neglect”, says Mendonca about her film.

Biju Viswanatah
Biju Viswanatah
Held annually each spring, the two-day Mexico International Film Festival (May 20 and 21, 2011) screened around 50 films (features, shorts and documentaries). An important destination event for film lovers, it is founded on the premise that the language of film is universal and a dynamic force in bridging cultural understanding. It gave its Golden Palm to the filmmaker from Kerala, Biju Viswanatah, for his English film, Viola. Biju’s earlier feature film Mahotsav (Grand Festival) was the closing night film at the first New Jersey Independent South Asian Cine Fest (NJISACF) in 2007.

Mexico’s Golden Palm also went to Indian documentaries, Burma In Peace (directed by Arun Sharma), You are Not Forgotten (directed by Samrat Chakravarty) and Made in India (directed by Rebecca Haimowitz and Vaishali Sinha).

Anjan Das
Anjan Das
Banshiwala, a Bengali feature film based on a story by Shirshendu Mukhopadhaay and directed by Anjan Das, has bagged the Bronze Palm Award at the same  Festival. According to the festival organizers, the film has "demonstrated excellent and outstanding film-making and is deserving of special recognition."

After winning a special mention at Venice last year, Amit Dutta returns to the prestigious European festival with his feature film Nainsukh. The film is based on the life of 18th-century Indian painter Nainsukh of Guler.
Amitís first feature film (an anthology of three short stories) Manís woman and other stories had won a special mention at the festival last year.
Nainsukh will be screened in the Horizons section of the festival.

A 10-year old Dalit girl from India is the director of  Dhanwarlo O’ Avva (A Grandma in Dharwar). In her movie, made in 2010, the young girl, who comes from a family in rural India, follows her 80-year old grandmother as she engages in ecological farming. The film was screened at the 7th IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival 2011 (The International Association of Women in Radio and Television).

 Tagore Stories on Film

Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in association with the National Film Development Corporation of India has released, a special DVD pack to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore on May 7th, Tagore’s 150th birthday. “Tagore Stories on Film” is a compilation of five films made in the past each using a different Tagore story directed by known names, and the sixth is a bonus DVD on Tagore’s life.

The five feature films in the pack are: Tapan Sinha’s Khudito Pashan (Hungry Stones), 1960, in Bengali; Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya (Three Daughters), 1961, in Bengali, based on three of Tagore’s stories, The Post Master, Monihara and Samapti; Hemen Gupta’s  Kabuliwala, 1961, in Hindi; Satyajit Ray’sGhare Bhaire (Home and the World) 1984; Kumar Shahani’s Char Adhyay (Four Chapters), 1997,  in Hindi, based on Tagore’s novella of the same name.

The sixth DVD has two documentaries on Tagore’s life, one made by Satyajit Ray in 1961 and the other, the silent film Natir Puja, a compilation of footage directed by Rabindranath Tagore himself, shot on the occasion of his 70th birth anniversary.Tagore also played an important role in it.

 Books

Girish
Girish Kasaravalli
The master filmmaker from India, was introduced to the American east coast audience by the New Jersey Independent South Asian Cine Fest in 2009 and 2010 through the screenings of Gulabi Talkies in 2009 and Nayi Neralu (The Shadow of the Dog) in 2010.
Now the acclaimed film critic, Pradip Biswas, has published two books on those films. The first one is : Girish and Gulabi Talkies (Arsenal, Kolkata), and the second one The Shadow of the Dog: A Critique (Dasgupta & Company, Kolkata).

Adoor Gopalakirshnan
Adoor Gopalakirshnan
Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Life in Cinema, published in 2010, is the first authorized biography of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan who was hailed by the late Satyajit Ray as India’s best. Adoor was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award at the New Jersey Independent South Asian Cine Fest in 2009 where his last film, Oru Pennum Rantaanum (A Climate for Crime), also had its North American premiere. A reviewer in the Hindustan Times wrote, “Writer Gautaman Bhaskaran traces the ebbs and flows of the life of this enigmatic director. From his birth during the Quit India Movement to his lonely childhood at his uncles’ house; from life at Gandhigram, where Adoor studied economics and politics, to his days and nights at the Pune Film Institute; and from his first film, Swayamvaram (One’s Own Choice), to his latest, Oru Pennum Rantaanum (A Climate for Crime), Bhaskaran’s lucid narrative tracks the twists and turns of Gopalakrishnan’s life, finding an uncommon man and a rare auteur”. The book is a must-read for Adoor fans and film enthusiasts from all over the world.

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